Business Logo Design – What Critics Say

Mash Bonigala

Business Logo Design – What Critics Say

Business Logo Design – This piece of news from the article “The government is demanding to know who this Trump critic is. Twitter is suing to keep it a secret.” on The Washington Post by Hayley Tsukayama, April 6, 2017, made me think of Tegiminis article “Why Critics Are Important?” written back in 2014, in which it was made clear that though you could get on well with your business without a critique, critics and their critiques did give us useful feedback to correct our drawbacks.

I liked Tegiminis article so much that I saved it to refer to it from time to time!

When I saw this Trump critic news, I looked up the Tegiminis article and decided to write this article, making business logo design as the topic in question.

Politicians, show business personalities, and corporate business tycoons all know the power of critics. It is a fact that a nice, cheesy critique can give a huge boost to a person or business, and a not-so-nice, gloomy critique can make a business empire and the emperor fall with a loud thud.

Paul Hudson in his article “Why Accepting Criticism Is Crucial To Your Success” on Elite Daily, reiterated the fact that the actual content of criticism carried a negative connotation but the purpose of criticism is not to insult but to improve! He also pointed out to us that ‘proper’ criticism was a way of giving feedback to a person or business with the intention of leaving them better off for it.

We’ve seen this many a time when logos of large corporates are ridiculed, as in the case of London Olympics logo 2012. Critics, including myself, ranted and ranted about the London Olympics logo without much success. The designers took about a year to make it at a cost of $800,000. Critics said the logo looked like a graffiti by a five-year-old. London’s mayor ordered the payment to the designers stopped. Anyway, nothing much happened because of that uproar of comments, but a lesson was learned if you wanted to believe it.

Logos for political parties for election campaigns are seasonal hot topics: Obama’s famous letter “O” for the 2008 election campaign was a remarkable success. Sagi Haviv, one of the three partners in the logo design firm Chermayeff & Geismer & Haviv, New York, said it changed everything for Obama.

However, Haviv wasn’t all for the Ted Cruz logo for 2016.

About this logo, Haviv said that, among other things, there was something extremely awkward about the cropping of that star, adding that it was a kind of a crippled star that was missing some of its limbs. Ted Cruz and his campaign chief must be “extremely” happy as they won the election with that same crippled logo!

And then this Trump + Pence logo made waves in 2016. Critics on social media took full on this logo. There were many sexually suggestive animated GIFs as the initials “T & P” were entwined to show partnership, and some even went up to comparing the logo with toilet paper.

However, Trump, who shrugged off critics from outside the party and the pessimists from inside the party, and Pence must be quite triumphant winning against all odds, including the ridicules about the logo. I understand this is not a business logo design but the rules still apply.

Here we have some expert comments from the comment section on the TripAdvisor Owl logo in “Experts Critique Business Logos”, Aug 21, 2009:

Armin Vit says “There’s something off about the eyes of the owl. He looks like he’s on drugs or that he’ll jump out of the browser. It’s a little graphic. The eyes are too googly.”

Richard Westendorf says “I love the idea that from the owl I can get wisdom, and I can trust them, but there’s a bit of fancy or fun. Travel is about fun and adventure, and this image connects to that sentiment very well.”

But the company did not make any changes to this business logo design and it has not stopped the millions that visit TripAdvisor.

I remember reading somewhere that the IBM logo, which saw several changes, finally got the one we see now in 1972, the letters with the horizontal lines, was ‘criticized’ by the then CEO that it looked odd with those lines! But it has stayed solid all this time since 1972.

So, it is to be understood that not all critics are right nor all of them wrong. They have the right to voice their opinions which undoubtedly sharpen the minds of the logo designers in general. Whether the critiques are positive or negative, the receiver must develop an open mind to accept them and, to a certain extent, make room for them in their marketing strategy.

I have had this positive feeling about critiques of all sorts, and in fact, I mentioned it in many of my articles about designing and branding. For example, way back, in my article “Do Not Neglect Your Business Brand”, I advised (small) business owners to respond to negative feedback positively rather than get into arguments with the critics.

And this item of news that Trump government deciding to withdraw its request ordering Twitter to identify the ‘Trump critic’ has once again proven me right.

It’s very interesting to learn what many a critic say about business logos. So, first let’s see what they say about the importance of a business logo design:

“If, in the business of communications, “image is king,” the essence of this image, the logo, is a jewel in its crown.” – Paul Rand, (1914 – 1996) the American art director and graphic designer, known for his logo designs for IBM, Morningstar, Westinghouse, ABC, Next, etc.

The Co-founder and Designer at Rocketspark, (Waikato, New Zealand, Online Media) Jeremy Johnson stated that “Having a professional looking, well-designed logo builds trust.” We also have a similar article on our website about why you need a logo design.

Peter Shadbolt, a business reporter for BBC business news, wrote in his article “How important is it for a company to have a great logo?” that for most people the logo of a firm immediately connected the customer’s mind to the business in question without the need to see its name, and that that type of instant recognition was the holy grail for a business. He quoted UK Oil group BP spending £ 136 million for its sunflower logo design back in 2000.

‘Logos are recognizable corporate stamps and messaging vehicles all in one’ is what Christine Birkner, the senior staff writer for Marketing News, stated boldly in his “Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv: Logo Pioneers Transition to Digital Era”.

Informi on their website’s ‘talking small business’ — “Do I Need a Logo?” — Choosing a logo for your business — declared that it’s not compulsory to have a logo; however, if you have one, there can be real benefits: provides a sense of identity; helps to build your brand, and conveys what your business is all about!

Stephanie Vozza, a freelance writer who has written about business, real estate and lifestyle for more than 20 years, quoted ‘a logo is one’s business public face’, in her “5 Signs that You Need a New Logo”!

Janna Sevilla, a professional writer & Manager of the Social Media Marketing Team, made her point clear about the business logo design in her “Why does every company need a logo?” on Quora. In her opinion, a good company logo design could establish loyalty between a customer and the business; it could organize a brand’s identity and gave it a professional look; and Janna Sevilla believed that a decent business logo design creates an identity; and she warned the business persons that without a business logo design (or brand identity) one could not establish the identity of a specific item (or service) in the market.

It’s interesting and informative to note that when the American Institute for Graphic Arts presented Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar with the AIGA Medal in 1979 for making great strides in the design arena, it wrote: “… the designs (logos) they make are visual images that are graphic poetry.” [The design firm CG — Chermayeff & Geismer, that later became CGH — Chermayeff & Geismer & Haviv, with the entry of Sagi Haviv has made world renowned logos for half a century. Their clients include Chase Bank, National Geographic, Mobile, NBC, Armani, Harper Collins, Exchange, NBC, Brown University, etc.]

There are, however, some open-minded people who are a bit harsh with the critics, with or without much consequence. Diana Budds, a writer on design and architecture, in her “The Precarious State of Logo Design” quoted Paula Scher, one of the partners at Pentagram, who created Shake Shack branding, as stating that the internet and the press should shut up and allow identities (business logo designs) find their audience who would ultimately determine the success and failure (of the companies/logos).

Ms Budds mentioned a few more critiques about the then new logo of ‘The Met’, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. She said the well-known typographer Erik Spiekermann “harped” on the proportions and forced curvy shapes of the logo; she also mentioned the New York Times critic Michael Kimmerlaman accusing the museum of pandering to younger audience; and added Justin Davidson of the New York Magazine comparing it to a typographic bus crash!

Diana Budds finally concluded that the more we argued and critiqued, throwing sharp comments at the designers and the designing, the better it was for the whole designing industry.

Author and founder of Big Brand System, with over 30 years of experience in marketing and designing, Pamela Wilson in her “Doctor, Do I need a Logo?” established the fact that one could get away without a logo, but that didn’t mean one didn’t need a tagline and branding and all the other marketing strategies. She compared this question with the question “Doctor, do I need a surgery?” to one’s surgeon, and the answer the surgeon would give, according to Pamela, was “Of course, you do!”