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« Maybe not so dumb | Main | My web vs. The web »

Logos

About thirty years ago, three companies dreamed up logos that have become so powerful, I don't even have to show you the images to get them to pop up in your head. A sneaker company paid a few hundred dollars for an abstract, upside down wave, a coffee company picked a half-naked mermaid (is there any other kind) that cost them nothing, and a computer company picked [hired a PR firm that picked] a piece of fruit with a bite out of it.

What the images had in common: nothing. They range from abstract to woodcut to groovy. The art of picking a logo, even one for the Olympics, has almost nothing to do with taste or back story. A great logo doesn't mean anything until the brand makes it worth something.

That's why spending $800,000 for a logo is ridiculous. And it's why you can't (I don't think I'm going out on a limb here) draw the logo of any Olympic games since 1898. The Olympics have trouble creating new logos of value because each Olympics already has an image that sticks with people... and that's the image of the city where the games take place. Putting an abstract picture on top of something that already has a picture doesn't work.

[and of course, the original Olympics logo meant nothing much when they started, but now provides a great shorthand to remind us of a whole bunch of attributes (youth, sportsmanship, spirit of the games, yadda yadda) that would be very hard to visualize without it.]

The iPod didn't need a logo, where a pair of sneakers or a cup of coffee do.

If you're given the task of finding a logo for an organization, your first task should be to try to get someone else to do it. If you fail at that, find an abstract image that is clean and simple and carries very little meaning--until your brand adds that meaning. It's not a popularity contest. Or a job for a committee. It's not something where you should run it by a focus group. It's just a placeholder, a label waiting to earn some meaning.

Anyone want to join me for a cup of mermaid? No sugar in mine.

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Logos:

» Seth Godin over logo\'s (o.a. Olympische spelen) from Tipt
Seth Godin (voormalig vice president direct marketing van Yahoo!) heeft het over logo\'s en de kracht ervan. Waarom het onzinnig is er tonnen aan een ontwerp te spenderen, en ook heeft Seth Godin het over het logo van de Olympische spelen [Read More]

» OK, Now I Don't Feel So Guilty from Clearing Up The Confusion
When I was updating the Cyber Data Solutions website, I decided to "go cheap" and whip up my own logo. I thought that, maybe someday, I could afford to have a professional do a better job.Then I read... [Read More]

» Logo-gate from CleverThink
Much has been written in the past few days on the logo for the 2012 London Olympics. People have called it horrible, ugly, a waste of money, etc. Seth Godin chimes in today with his thoughts on logos. In short: a logo is just a empty visual. It gets fi... [Read More]

» Logos from Travel and Web 2.0
Seth Godin hits it spot on - as always, Im almost tempted to say. ... [Read More]

» Some more honey from Ugh!!'s Greymatter Honeypot
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» Seth Godin on logos from The Logo Factor
Marketing guru Seth Godin chimes in on the Olympic Logo fiasco, the price tag of same, and a word about logos in general. If youre given the task of finding a logo for an organization, your first task should be to try to get someone else to do... [Read More]

» Seth Godin on Logos, part 2 from Be A Design Group
I hate having to keep dwelling on Seth Godins opinions about logos, but I think it is important for two reasons. 1. His thoughts represent a common misunderstanding about the value of logos. and 2. He has a huge audience... [Read More]

» Your Logo Means Nothing Until You Make It Mean Something from thoughts
When it comes to logos, marketing guru Seth Godin says the image you pick doesn't really matter. The meaning comes not from the logo itself, but what your company actually does. "A great logo doesn't mean anything until the brand... [Read More]

» The 2012 Olympics Logo is Unveiled from brandcurve.com
Seth Godin posted two great articles on his blog about the new 2012 Olympics logo.  For those of you who dont understand the logo, its a psychedelic 2, 0, 1 and 2 with the host citys name and the Olympic logo.  Its hard to... [Read More]

» A Disaster of Olympic Proportions from bigPicture
$800,000. That figure is disgusting in and of itself. Add to it that the final product worth $800,000 is this makes it almost unbearable. I ceratinly hope that this is not a foreshadow of what is to come out of [Read More]

» Whoah ING Savings forBusinesses? from Hire A Helper
So we just got venture capital right? And were looking into getting some CDs so that we can make the most possible interest in the safest way possible while we dont need the money. Then I run across this http://business.ingd... [Read More]

» When logos go bad -- London Olympics 2012 from The Bleeding Edge
I'm sure we've all seen it at this point -- that's the logo for the olympic games, 2012. Apparently, the (blog/news)osphere is all atwitter about it -- and rightly so IMO -- it's ugly and expensive, two things I... [Read More]

» Logos from Luc Latulippe
This is from a post on Seth Godins blog about logos. Clearly, its been inspired by the newly unveiled and wildly unpopular logo for the London 2012 Games. My apologies to Mr Godin for quoting almost the entire thing: About thirty years a... [Read More]

» More thoughts on logos from McEWANHACKETT.COM
Why did the 2012 logo cause so much debate - and so much of it hostile? Apart from the obvious answer here in the UK, i.e. it was featured heavily on the BBC news, I think it's because of the... [Read More]

» Logo Design: Its Always Too Much or Too Little from Synaxis Speaks - Writing + Podcasts
Seth points out that great logos are about the meaning derived, not from the logo itself, but from the company behind it. While thats certainly true, it underestimates the role of design in a good logo. There is no doubt that creating a great l... [Read More]

» logos from oh snap, brilliance!
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» Create Your Own Meaning from The Simplest Thing That Works
Link: Seth's Blog: Logos. I agree with this blog post of Seth Godin's - he talks about logos that have become ultra-recognizable (Nike's swoosh, Starbuck's mermaid, Apple's apple), and opines that it's goofy to spend a kajillion dollars on a [Read More]

» Name It, design It, brand It from People, Pixels and Production
I never wanted to try designing the logo myself. The process should be simple yet effective, so it’s better to leave it to a professional. Im lucky: Seth Godin agrees with me. ... [Read More]

» On va en entendre parler pendant 5 ans from Samuel Chéné
Ce logo c'est un peu la grande blague du moment.L'organisation des Jeux Olympique de Londres en 2012 vient de se permettre une folie comptable de presque 600 000€ pour la création du logotype des JO. Et les 5 cercles juxtaposés, [Read More]

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If you've ever struggled to create a logo, you'll appreciate Seth's take on Logos: If you're given the task of finding a logo for an organization ... find an abstract image that is clean and simple and carries very little [Read More]

» average price for a graphics artist from T-Shirt Forums
Hi... what is the average price for a design by a graphic artist (for a tee) ? They approach me and say they will be happy to do work, but when i ask what their pricing structure is, they say it depen... [Read More]

» Purpose oflogos from work in progress
What is the purpose of logos? To create an image? Something that can be recognised? How do we create good logos? Seth explores the concept of logo creation. There are a few things Id like to point out: Some of the great logos in our day didn... [Read More]

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