What’s All The Logomotion About?

Written by Erik Hansen

It’s been about a decade since I first read The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier. It was a simple statement on page one that helped motivate a career shift from design to brand strategy – “a brand is not a logo”.

Now in 2016, this simple statement evokes more feelings of exasperation than inspiration.

After hundreds of books, conferences, white papers and beyond have been centered around the essence of this statement, why are we still having this conversation?

When a company changes their logo, but does not change its core purpose and strategic trajectory, why do we call it a REBRAND?

Even worse, when a company does reimagine, reposition and redefine itself from the inside out, why do we focus all our attention on the shiny (and in some instances shitty) new logo?

Every week my social media feed has posts, articles and opinions that both wave the “brand is not a logo” flag and feature rebrand stories – yet the content is only focused on the before-and-after logo comparisons.

Uber recently launched a new visual identity that received a ton of media attention – and most of it wasn’t positive. What the masses missed was the amazing story about the Uber brand, its global impact on humankind and its vision as a company in the future. Much of this wonderfully authentic and compelling story was lost in the clutter of logo banter.

I was delighted this week when I picked up the Idris Mototee’s book, 60 Minute Brand Strategist, and the second paragraph of the introduction read:

“People often place too much value in the power of a logo or name, but rarely enough on their brand strategy. Many also assume that the brand strategy of larger companies is always robust, and only affordable because of their size. This is far from the truth; every successful business, large or small, global or local, must have a brand strategy and it needn’t be complicated.”

PREACH! Brand strategy is not exclusive to million dollar budgets, nor is great design. However, they are not mutually exclusive to one another. There are many companies with great design and no clear brand strategy. Likewise, there are companies with great brand strategy but terrible design.

Even great brands with clear vision like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, widely known as The Met – showcased how even great strategy and deep pockets can’t promise great design. Their new logo is the creative blunder of 2016.

How can you stay in the lead with your brand? If you are an agency selling brand solutions, hire a great strategist (or team of them) to help you bridge the gaps between business, experience and design. If you are a company looking to maintain and increase relevance, don’t think a new logo will solve your problems. Dig deep to understand your purpose and customer needs and then manifest your story and solutions through design.

At Mekanic, strategy drives every brand solution and our relationships with clients is very intimate. There is no other way to operate because we aren’t just designing a brand mark or providing a facelift. We get to know our clients’ past and help shape their future – from their corporate structure to their products and services, revenue projections to employee engagement, customer perceptions to market disruptors. In partnership, we unlock value and opportunity and weave together a suite of solutions to build a full brand experience from the inside-out. And no doubt, an awesome logo is always the cherry on top.