Dumb Logos vs ‘Lal Baraf

Article Source : Live mint

Date of Issue : 23rd September, 2015

Title of Article :Dumb Logos vs ‘Lal Baraf’

Details :
Last time, we discussed how brand owners could decide brand names; let’s discuss how they could decide their logos. In 1984, as a copywriter in advertising, I was helping non-profit Child Rights and You communicate about ART for CRY, an exhibition of paintings donated by various artists. Their sale proceeds would go to the CRY corpus fund.One of the paintings got exhibited sideways: neither the artist nor the viewers noticed the difference.

Your logo is not art. Art has no commercial objective: nobody measures how many people’s perception it changed. Your logo has a commercial objective. It has a communication objective and target.It is the most ubiquitous expression of your brand: it peeps out of visiting cards that hundreds of salesmen dole out at hundreds of conferences; it smiles from the website that your prospective partner from the US first visits; it stares back from the million products your consumers use.

In the best-case scenario, your logo must communicate to internal stakeholders (employees) and external stakeholders (prospective employees, clients, partners) what exactly your company stands for, so that they decide to join or not join your vision. In the medium-case scenario, your logo will communicate nothing. It will be a dumb logo. In the worst-case scenario, your logo will miscommunicate. That would be, on your balance sheet, a disinvestment!

Imagine this: I step out of Andheri suburban railway station on a hot May afternoon and hear a vendor shouting, “Lal baraf khaao!” In three words, the vendor has created a memorable image in my head. By combining the colour red and the coldness of ice. Two frames of reference cleverly combined to sell what? Watermelon.In an ideal world, that is what your logo should do. Create an unforgettable, ownable image of your organization for your target. The Baskin Robbins logo has the number 31 within it. That’s it! Baskin Robbins has as many flavours as there are days in the month.

The Amazon logo says A to Z, we give you everything. The Parag Parikh Financial Advisory Services logo has a tortoise and a line, “There is only right way.” Yes, all of us remember the story. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to investing in equity markets.One of the barriers to choosing a right logo is the confusion caused by specialist talk. This specialist talk is usually about fonts, colours and meaning of visuals. For example, in 2011, two famous and accomplished typographers sparred in public about the typeface of the Nokia brand line, Connecting People.

Bruno paraphrases his regular verbal sparring partner Erik Spiekermann—who designed Nokia’s previous typeface Nokia Sans—as saying, “I did something much better. At least what I did had personality.” “But that was the problem,” says Bruno. “What Spiekermann did with his typeface—and it’s a great typeface—is he gave it so much personality that Nokia couldn’t work with it anymore.”Did you notice any change in the Nokia brand line typeface? Except perhaps that Nokia closed down as a company?For example: “The Rainbow flower consists of four basic values of Integrity, Innovative Solutions, Human Values and Value for Money and stands as our brand identity.”

Does the rainbow flower hold all these meanings in your mind? Or even more extreme: “The M stands for McDonald’s, but the rounded m represents mummy’s mammaries, according the design consultant and psychologist Louis Cheskin. In the 1960s, McDonald’s was prepared to abandon this logo, but Cheskin successfully urged the company to maintain this branding with its Freudian symbolism of a pair of nourishing breasts.” For example: “Citrus green is about expression, representing growth, harmony with nature and renewed life. Sky blue embodies progression—big ideas, blue sky thinking, technology and innovation. Ruby red reflects cherished experiences—passion, indulgence, energy and dynamism.”

Unfortunately, colours have meaning only in context. A silk cloth as a sari on a Maharastrian woman means she is newly married; a silk cloth on a pole means it’s an Islamic flag. Yellow usually means happiness and good taste to Koreans; it means envy and infidelity in Latin countries. I have access to research that shows red means different things in Hyderabad and Mumbai.Once you are clear what your brand stands for and what you want your logo to communicate, you will deal with the easier executional aspects. Horizontal versus vertical, black and white versus colour, with brand line versus without; how it looks on packaging, on signage, even on a gift pen!

Of course, you need to remember not to overuse it.Right. Hope this helped.Kiran Khalap co-founded chlorophyll brand and communications consultancy in 1999 (www.chlorophyll.in). He claims his night job is writing fiction (his two published books are Halfway Up the Mountain and Two Pronouns and a Verb) and his weekend job is rock climbing. In this monthly column, he will share his insights on all things related to brands and branding that brand owners can act upon, rather than create a forum for intellectual entertainment.