We've all seen it, the latest rebrand of a company comes out and these type of comments roll in - "could have done this in 2 minutes", or "how much did they pay for that logo?!" - in very rare occasions, these comments are justified (kind of) but for many, they are a knee jerk reaction to the first look at a logo. We've done it ourselves too, but the beauty of being designers means that we view it from a slightly different perspective, and we want to look at what they were hoping to achieve with the re-brand before making a judgement. (Side note: we're not ALWAYS this polite about it)
It's worth noting that for us Brits, we HATE change, so when a company changes something that we love it takes us a long time to get used to it, which may be part of the negative reaction when a brand gets refreshed. But after the initial shock of it all - we're normally fine (I think).
This leads us to the whole point of this post - that sometimes our initial reactions can block us from seeing the beauty in simplicity and change. The truth is, we're surrounded by this style of logo identity in our culture today. It's the obvious choice, but if you look at the Nike swoosh for example, you don't see many criticising that logo, because it works perfectly across a range of platforms. Consumers also know who it represents, which is the whole point of a brand after all. Many people have written and spoken about the possible reactions Nike would get if they unveiled their logo today, including Micheal Bierut so we're not going to go into too much detail about it, but that could probably be classed as "too easy". It's a well known idea that many people are more aware of design they like and dislike, which can bring some interesting comments, and largely, that's probably a good thing. So yeah, we thought we'd address this topic in this week's post!
This is going to be the first of a series of posts which focus on how good branding works, and we'll look at important elements to bear in mind and work on as your own company/brand grows. You could write a whole book on these topics (and loads of people have, in case you're interested) but we thought we'd just share our very quick thoughts on branding and logo identities, with some case studies, in bitesize posts. We'll be looking at a different aspect of branding each week. With that said, let's get started on post 1 ...
1. John & Jane Branding
You've probably seen this work featured on many different pages and design websites, as it just shows how simple and effective design can be. John & Jane is a technical event support and production company - and it seems that the goal of the project was to give them a more coherent brand, and give the brand a bit more of a personal identity. It was created by skinn branding agency back in 2017.
The identity is striking and bold, but it's literally just two J's joined together into one logomark and forming the shape of an ampersand. We don't mean to diminish this solution, as it really works well and skinn would have gone through loads of iterations to get to this point, but that's the core of the identity. We've all seen an ampersand before though, so why is this so good?
Well, it's memorable - anyone could re-create it. It will stick in people's minds because of it's simplicity, and it is easily identifiable. As a sound technician, you have to be organised and it's important that the very expensive gear isn't lost or misplaced. This logo takes that into account as it's bold, and you don't need the whole wordmark on there to know who it belongs to. Despite being a symbol we've seen loads of times before, it's still relatively unique and scalable - a key part of creating a successful logomark. It's much the same with the Nike swoosh. If we're going to look at it in the same way, it's basically just a glorified tick (sorry Nike). Nike didn't really create something new, but they brought a new perspective to it and impressed their own stamp on this symbol, that decision allowed it to become arguably the most memorable brand in the world.
So in the case of the John & Jane brand, and the Nike swoosh - they're both really adaptable, as ALL logos should be. They should be able to be used on a variety of print and web media and still be effective.
So to conclude with our original question; Why are "boring" logo identities usually the best ones? - Well, to list them down:
They encapsulate the personality of a brand in one simple mark - side note: that could only take 10 minutes, or that could take 10 months. But if we consider how much value that has brought to both these companies - shouldn't they be considered successful?
They're adaptable, while still being unique
They're simple, but they still have room to expand
We could go on for ages about loads of different successful companies identities and use the same logic, but we hope we've made our point by now. We also want to keep these posts in fairly bitesize pieces.
We do just want to say that this doesn't mean that technical ability doesn't come into play, it certainly does and it's always worth developing those abilities. We just wanted to give you some thoughts about how you can simplify a brands vision into one mark, and that does take a lot of practice, expertise and we're still not complete masters ourselves. This is something I struggled with when I was starting out, I was always wanting to use the new tools I've learnt on any new work we had, but that's not always the way to do it. Sometimes, it even calls for us to learn new skills for a specific project. Design is a craft, and it needs to be continually developed, but that doesn't mean you always have to use the latest design trends on each project. It comes down to what will work from a brand, and that stage should become clearer once the initial research stage is complete.
Next week we'll talk about the importance of the messaging of a brand, and it's tone of voice. We might even focus on our own brand next time - until then though, if you're a business owner, think about how your logo could be improved or simplified, and if the current iteration of your logo is the most effective/memorable way to present yourself. If you still have questions, feel free to get in touch with us. We'd love to be part of the process of re-envisioning your logomark and brand.
If you're a designer, start by examining logo identities that you see around you and come up with a refresh. You never know, it could lead to a job one day ...
Until then, here's the messaging from the John & Jane brand, to get you thinking about it:
Hint: We really like this messaging.
We'll speak to you soon!
The BRIX Team