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Logo Design vs. Branding

A Thousand (cheap) Logos Will Never Replace THINKING First A counterpoint to a recent Kelowna Capital News article

See the original article that sparked the debate: Tapping into our younger generation can pay dividends

By Jennifer Smith - Kelowna Capital News Published: March 04, 2010 6:00 PM
"...... The idea is simple. You post your specs, designers come up with a logo and the price they want for the design and you choose what you want. There are other on-line design companies doing this mind you and, unfortunately, it can result in the out-sourcing of jobs to countries with cheaper labour, in some cases shooting local designers in the foot. But in Beech's case, there's no competing on qualifications or large corporate wars involved, so it's not a case of the big guys win simply for showing up. Anyone can post a design and price it accordingly; so anyone could win the contract......"


First of all, congratulations Terry & friends on the new business. It's a modern and scalable business model, using the power of crowd-sourced artwork. It's exciting to see startups with a team of talented local people! I have to bring up a counterpoint though... I can't help but feel there is a potential downside for businesses using the "let me see a 100 logos for $250" system. Being in the marketing & design industry for the last 10 years, I've seen my share of good and bad logos. But that really isn't the point.  Others have commented on the unfairness to artists, and devaluing the talent, etc... but again that isn't my particular gripe.

Big Idea: A logo is just a piece of the overall branding.

Long before pencil touching paper, the brand strategy is critical to the overall success of the business. Usually, a lot of time is spent developing and asking proper questions: who is my audience, what are their tastes, what is my core message, how can I differentiate in an ocean of competitors? What is my brand promise to my customers? After that is done, now what is the visual interpretation of that background understanding - the logo. What is the logo concept? Is it a wordmark (text only)? Or a true logo (text plus icon)?

What is the intended use? Is the logo reproducible in a variety of formats - online and offline? (Here is where amateur 3D, complex gradients, and colour schemes with similar tonal values cause havoc.) At least equal time should be given to strategy and design. Often, more time dedicated to the research, questioning, and strategic positioning phase. I'm sure your business will find a good number of interested customers, and some of the advantages are great: multiple designers from around the world. Then again, a good marketing agency will offer multiple designers too, along with the process and strategic pre-production phase. Moral of the story: buyer beware. Eg. Think houses. Would you start choosing paint colours for rooms before figuring out which type of house to build?

Just thought I'd add my 2 cents and play devil's advocate for a moment. ;-)

James Shaw, Principal/Creative Director Twin Creek Media Inc.