Thursday, September 5, 2013

The art of logos

In my humble opinion, the biggest con man (men) alive today are the ones who design corporate logos.  They'll tell you they're trying to define the essence of a company by just one word or one symbol.  OK, fair enough, but why does it take a whole team of $500-an-hour graphic designers months to come up with a winning design?  Are they the ultimate control freaks or just high-class pickpockets?

A story in this morning's news told of how new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (who makes considerably more than $500 an hour) spent an entire weekend with her "logo design team" putting the finishing touches on a new symbol that had taken months (and probably cost millions) to get to that point. 

Some logos make sense, having a story behind them:


Ford's logo says....well....FORD, as in "Henry Ford".  The epitome of simple.


Audi's four interlocking rings represent the German companies Horch, Auto Union, DKW, and Wanderer that joined together to form Audi in 1932.


BMW used to make airplane engines, and the blue and white circle in the middle of their logo represents a spinning propeller.

I'm guessing their logo "design teams" knocked those out in an afternoon, probably drawn on a cocktail napkin after a few beers down at the corner tavern.  But nowadays we tend to over-think everything.  We have to hear from (pay) graphic designers, consultants, psychologists, focus groups, etc, before we can come up with a winning design.



The stock brokerage firm Merrill Lynch's logo is a bull, as in "Bull Market".  Get it?  I wonder how many million dollars it cost to design that stylized bull?

But back to Yahoo.  Here was their old logo:


Here is their new logo:


They wanted something that would look "sophisticated, yet whimsical".

Here are the doodles that it took to get there:


I have visions of the mail room boy pushing his cart down the hall when he stumbled across the logo team hard at work.  "Why don't you just straighten out the letters, and make that last O a bit bigger and tilt the exclamation point?  That would be sorta whimsical."

DOH!

But what do I know.  I designed ours on the back of a cocktail napkin after a couple of beers down at the corner tavern.


To me it says "Sophisticated, yet too cheap to hire a design team".  ;)

S


16 comments:

  1. My son and the testosterone challenged step-crank are both graphic design artists. I didn't know they made $500 an hour!! I'm going to have to rethink Christmas presents this year. I think they do a little more than just design logos, but these do seem pretty simple.

    I like yours!

    The Merrill thing went with the slogan "We are bullish on America"

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    Replies
    1. Yep, some of the biggest horn tooters, the ones who wear scarves and don't tuck in their shirt tails and schmooze with Fortune 500 company execs, milk it for all they can. It's all about time on the clock.

      I also just read that B of A is going to kill off Merrill entirely. Pity. :(

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  2. My brother got a degree in graphic arts but never used it. Maybe he should have. The closest I've come to making a corporate logo is for my publishing imprint (http://www.planet99publishing.com) which like you I knocked that out in a few minutes. Making book covers is really difficult though and I wish I could hire some $500/hour guy to do it for me. As it is I just try mostly to find a decent stock image and slap some text over it. That's a problem for some books, like my superhero ones, where there isn't a decent stock image really. It's a pain in the butt.

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  3. I think your logo says that I probably couldn't afford one of your homes :)

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  4. The city where I live and where Mrs. C. works paid a design team $75,000 to design a new logo for our city. It took them six months and they created a design that looks like a logo for a certain feminine product.

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  5. Plano has proposed a new logo, it'll be the third since I've lived here. The last chage happened during the flush years and cost the city a couple hundred thousand for the design. Small price to pay for slanting the old "P" to make it a more forward looking "P".

    Now this new one will have a tail on the star that's already inside the "P" to give it a shooting star look. Pretty fancy. And underneath it says, " Plano, where people connect.". Catchy. Sounds kinda like e-harmony don't it? The cost has not been revealed, but one thing's for sure, it's always very easy when spending someone else's money..

    ReplyDelete
  6. Plano has proposed a new logo, it'll be the third since I've lived here. The last chage happened during the flush years and cost the city a couple hundred thousand for the design. Small price to pay for slanting the old "P" to make it a more forward looking "P".

    Now this new one will have a tail on the star that's already inside the "P" to give it a shooting star look. Pretty fancy. And underneath it says, " Plano, where people connect.". Catchy. Sounds kinda like e-harmony don't it? The cost has not been revealed, but one thing's for sure, it's always very easy when spending someone else's money..

    ReplyDelete
  7. Plano has proposed a new logo, it'll be the third since I've lived here. The last chage happened during the flush years and cost the city a couple hundred thousand for the design. Small price to pay for slanting the old "P" to make it a more forward looking "P".

    Now this new one will have a tail on the star that's already inside the "P" to give it a shooting star look. Pretty fancy. And underneath it says, " Plano, where people connect.". Catchy. Sounds kinda like e-harmony don't it? The cost has not been revealed, but one thing's for sure, it's always very easy when spending someone else's money..

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  8. I like your logo. Even more, I like all your knowledge of German auto companies. Even I didn't know that about Audi and BMW!

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  9. Plano, huh? But did it take three identical comments to tell me that?

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    Replies
    1. My bad. Second time that posting from my iphone did this.

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    ReplyDelete