The Death of the Logo

Posted by on Nov 3, 2013 in branding, creative strategy, design, marketing | No Comments
The Death of the Logo


‘Logos are a hangover from another time. They need to be shaken off, moved away from, de-focused.’ Simon Manchipp, Director at Someone.

Have logos become ‘pricey doodles’? Simon Manchipp seems to think so in his article: Logos are Dead . You don’t have to go far to on Google Image search to find a plethora of generic one size fits all logos available to buy. Where the uniqueness out there?

Michael Johnson (Johnsonbanks) Doesn’t seem to think that the logo is dead. However, he does think that there is too much of a sheep mentality when it comes to branding –  there’s plenty of ‘samey’ looking tourism and university logos out there. He even states that all Saul Bass’ logos were all basically the same.

Johnson also points out that branding should be more flexible. It’s not just about visual identity, it’s also verbal. Creative agencies are stepping more and more into the territory of ad agencies. The Johnsonbanks work for the Pew Center, shows how a unique ‘parent and child’ identity structure can be applied out across the organisation. The unique modular design was able to be applied to the print and brochure design, and could act as the navigation for the website.

Pew Center for Arts & Heritage from johnson banks on Vimeo.

In the same session, Marina Willer discusses that we should be concentrating on creative a voice, rather than a logo. Brands should not be imposing anymore. Willer goes on and discusses rebrand of AOL, and how it uses an invisible logo to creative an inclusive branding system that highlights the importance of the content of AOL. AOL would not exist without online content. They logotype itself has no unique typography, and allows the images behind it to do the talking.

Back to Manchipp. He sees that when a company rebrands itself and spends lots of money on a single logo – like a frivolous accessory , it creates an element of fear amongst its employees ‘ Why the change – is my job safe?’. I guess that is true in some ways – there probably is a lack of connection with employees that could be tapped into more, as well connecting better to consumers. He thinks that logos can’t connect:

‘…Sure, brands and their branding exist where competition arises. They aim to create a monopoly, to eliminate their rivals. Yet brands need to connect with people – emotionally, culturally, economically and clearly. But a logo alone fails nearly every time, because it needs an explanation’.

In his article, Manchipp discusses how the O2 branding has become a successful flexible branding platform. As he states, you could remove the logo and still know the brand – the logo is no longer ‘the hero’. The clever use of  bubbles, colour, photography and typography distinguish O2 on a much deeper and clearer level, so much so, that it’s elements are still in use since 2002.

O2 Bubbles from el Colony on Vimeo.

Manchipp calls for designers to create a  ‘brand world’  ‘a flexible branded platform that is instantly recognisable – you could remove the logo and still know the brand’. - and ditch the logo. Where as Willer and Johnson emphasise on the need for creating a voice and being flexible- the logo can exist, but only as a shortcut to the rest of the brand.  Branding isn’t a accessory, but a fundamental part of the culture of the company.

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