Logo Design Can Jeopardize Design Investments

April 28, 2008 – 6:54 pm

Because of the front-and-center accessibility and intimacy of the logo as a concept, logo design is an area where people with no practical design experience feel particularly comfortable weighing in with heavy-handed and micromanaging feedback. “Let’s see what happens when you make this a dotted line.” “Try using an image of a starfish holding a crossbow, and he’s grinning.” “Try making this part transparent instead.” Specific design revision instructions given by someone with no professional reps executing this type of work are instead made on the basis of personal considerations. In a situation where you are designing around the whim of a non-creative professional’s latent creative impulses, you are going to chase your tail.

If the tone of this article strikes you as annoyed, it’s because it is an annoying phenomenon to deal with. That’s not important, though. What is important is the fact that a client’s over-reaching involvement in an outsourced design project jeopardizes that client’s return on their investment. Additionally, as a behavior, it is a troubling symptom of misplaced priorities. Corporate logo design is not a high-value task. From a bottom-line standpoint, the difference between stroke width A and stroke width B in a corporate logo does not translate to increased sales, and even if it did, there are few metrics to confirm such an zany notion.

As a business owner, your priorities should be “big picture” and in general guide the direction of the ship. Every second, every ounce of energy focused on low-value minutia is time and energy taken away from high-value tasks.

“But the logo is the first thing people see…it’s critical for us to have the right logo.”

I appreciate that sentiment and as a professional designer I respect each and every client’s paid prerogative. However, if I indulge them too much in their secret ambition to be a logo designer, I’m not exactly doing them a favor. The “do it yourself” approach to logo design, when executed in the guise of hiring a professional designer, ONLY yields good results when the feedback is general and not specific. When the feedback is high-level and not granular to the point of micromanagement, it elicits the best possible work. When the “do it yourself” approach to logo design is indulgent and based on the buyer’s personal considerations, it nearly always results in amateur work because the designer is no longer designing…instead, they are now dutifully (if unwillingly) executing the specific design instructions of an amateur, and essentially acting as an Adobe “engineer.”

“How am I supposed to go with a logo I don’t like?”

You’re not supposed to. Instead, this should be a moot point. If you’re obsessed with a logo design to this degree, your priorities as a business owner are misplaced and you have other more important problems to worry about. Don’t worry about the logo, if you hired a professional on the basis of a solid portfolio, trust them to do their job and know what fits the task. give them high-level feedback and guide the overall direction of the design process by quickly identifying what suits your needs. Let them work, and don’t get in the way. If you do, it’s your time and your nickel.

Find something better to do with your time, for example, finding new business prospects and converting them to sales. That course of action stands to have a more immediate, measurable impact on your bottom line.

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