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What is the logo worth? | DesignNotes by Michael Surtees

What is the logo worth?

what is the logo worth

Design is an optimistic pursuit, but sometimes the ideals of designers can get in the way of things as they are as opposed to what things should be. Let’s take a look at the “Logo” as we’ve been trained to admire and as a further extension of the “brand” as we used to know it. Today banks and financial institutions aren’t doing so well—their reputations are tarnished, maybe beyond repair. The typical design response would be to suggest they just need to reposition themselves, design a new logo. That standard response would have worked in the not so distant past, but I don’t think that’s going help today which leads me to believe the logo really isn’t as meaningful as it used to be.

As crazy as it is, people vote with their clicks. While it’s a cold transaction there’s as much emotion in their decision as the snap reactions to brands in the technical sense of the word. People are reacting to what their friends, peers and content that means something to them with a simple yes/no or thumbs up/down to define what’s valuable. Of course if they really care they typically can add a comment. The standard argument is those clicks don’t mean much. It turns out that they actually do—in my Link Drop last week I posted a link about how Amazon created 2.7 billion dollars of worth via a simple yes/no question on their reviews. Google brought in web 2.0 with the cash cow of simple advertising links. The evolution of that is the vote economy where people have the power to have their collective say. While some people might laugh at that idea, that click gives more emotional tie in possibilities than any logo could provide. That vote emotion is what will drive commerce and designers better be willing to adjust to that reality because logos as we know them are dead.

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  • http://www.davidairey.com David Airey

    Could it be that the the 'standard response' of old (repositioning / designing a new logo) doesn't work because today's consumer has a lot more choice?

    For the most part, I don't purchase anything without checking out the competition online. Aesthetics are important to me, but I'd happily buy from a “plain Jane-looking” company on the back of some nice word-of-mouth marketing.

    I don't know so much about how things used to be done, but it seems foolish to think that an identity-change can alter an organisation's fortunes.

    Change needs to come from within.

  • http://www.jameskurtz.com James Kurtz III

    Interesting concept, however I don't see how consumers deciding on the internet to buy something based on voting will kill the logo. Brands will still need a face, or some type of a visual identity, so that consumers can identify them amongst all the other brands being voted upon.

  • caren litherland

    Do logos and vote economies necessarily exclude each other?

    It's not really so crazy that people vote with their clicks. Our interactions with others have always been about making split-second decisions. For sighted people, a lot of if not most of the cues that subtly prompt us to make these reductive binary decisions are visual: the way someone presents him or herself. At least that’s what happens when we're making decisions more or less on our own. In a group setting (and the internet is the group setting par excellence), things get more complicated because of social proof, influence, peer pressure, whatever you want to call it. It’s nothing new. Social influence has been around for, like, ever. Why? Because most people are effing sheep and they hesitate, or don’t know how, to think for themselves. I agree with you that it’s completely emotional, rarely rational. But why couldn’t a visual mark, a logo, which is always rhetorical, play a strong suasive role in what you are calling the vote economy?

  • http://www.chomchomadvertising.com Vinh Nguyen

    Google is testing Adwords Favicons http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2009/03/16/go… which tells us the logo or brand identity will still be important in… driving clicks. That makes everyone happy, doesn't it?

  • http://www.selikoffco.com jonathan selikoff

    I don't think I'm following the logic here. Your thesis seems to point to the logo and public opinion as being completely separate and unrelated. I don't see a logo as a deciding factor, but it still plays an important part in the interaction between a product or service and its purchaser. Consumer opinion has always played a key role in the strength of a brand, but now the pool of accessible opinions is much larger. Somewhere back at the beginning of this chain of opinion, something had to persuade the first adopters. Was it the actual item being bought? Was it the identity of the company selling the item? Was it the ad that the consumer saw, that suggested they go buy this item? Was it a news article or a viral video or a random tweet that set this train in motion? Reality says it was all of them, all intertwined and relating back to one another. They all support the other, so it's very hard for me to make a leap that says the logo is any more or less important than it used to be. There's just too much in the mix. In the end, the consumer has more input to base his buying decision, and the logo is still part of that.

  • http://www.selikoffco.com jonathan selikoff

    I also would like to echo what David said about the “standard response.” No intelligent brand designer would expect a simple logo change to fix a company's problems. And maybe this is why you're touting the fall of the Logo (cap intentional). The brand industry has practically eaten itself the past 5 years with fluffy language and self-important marketing bravado playing up rebrandings. If a company doesn't rebrand from within – and by that I don't mean anything related to visual design – then no logo or look-and-feel change is going to do anything. For Merrill Lynch or AIG or Citibank to reposition themselves properly, they're going to have to rebuild their trust with the public. To do that requires a change in the way they do business, not a change in logo. Once they make those changes, then a new logo may be called for, and it might help spur forward those changes in the public's mind. But simply a logo change is never the answer.

  • http://www.sosmedia.org SOS Media

    Interesting perspective.

  • Idezinecorpids

    I would like to say – are you kidding me? Logos are a very important part of an identity system. Take for example: your traveling down the highway – your hungry – you want a McDonald’s hamburger. Do you exit when you see a sign with plain bold block lettering? No! You wait for the “Golden Arch”. If you want a good cup a coffee – you wait until you see the Starbucks sign. Either way we all know the experience we have with these institutions. If the customer experience needs attention, that’s where the changes need addressing.

  • http://www.thelappool.com/lap-pool-designs/lap-pool-designs-building-your-own-lap-pool/ lap pool designs

    This is the great blog, I’m reading them for a while,
    thanks for the new posts!