I’ve long held the belief that logos are overrated. Taken out of context, a lot of logos are just average designs. Think of the Mastercard logo, which is just two overlapping circles. If you were to submit a design of this same simplicity in a graphic design course, you’d get a C—if you’re lucky—no matter how much you might try and say you were intentional in designing it this way. And yet, other logos from companies like McDonald’s and Nike are praised for their design and “simplicity.”
But ask yourself this: if these companies weren’t famous, would we still be in awe over their cleverly designed logo? Likely not. There’s an obvious reason why whenever we talk about logos in design classes, we refer to logos from big corporations. They are well known global brands after all, and the purpose of a logo is for visual identification. Naturally, it makes sense to talk about a logo most people recognize.
I’m not denying that logos have a role in branding. I’m just saying they’re overrated. I believe it’s the quality of a product or service that truly defines the company. That, and of course, the marketing and advertising a company does to promote said product or service. A local business might have a great customer base and thrive in their community, but people who aren’t locals wouldn’t recognize their logo if the store didn’t market themselves. When we see a logo we recognize, we don’t think, “oh yeah, what a beautiful logo;” we think of the company itself. So, while logos are important for brand recognition, we place too much emphasis on logos. A business’ brand is so much more than just a logo.
Now, admittedly there are good and bad logos. Trying to cram your entire shop’s description into your logo is a bad design. There are still basic principles a logo should follow, like good contrast, clear font, and scalability. But beyond that, it doesn’t matter that much. Just pick a logo you like and work on the multitude of other things that could make your brand successful. When I picked a logo for my business, I chose a drawing I had readily available. Could my logo be better? Of course. But my brand didn’t collapse just because I didn’t have a perfect logo. Save your time in creating 10 versions of a logo. There are more important things to do.
Brand design, on the other hand, is not overrated. Brand design encompasses all the visual and design elements of a company. This includes the logo, colour palette, font choice, packaging, and business cards, which all factor into creating a memorable experience for your customer. Instead of endlessly admiring the nice curve of the McDonald’s Golden Arches, I think it would be more productive to focus on their overall brand design. I believe one thing all these companies have in common (apart from being famous) is they all have cohesive branding that stretches beyond just the logo.
Staff Writer (Volume 49) — Hannah is a third-year student double majoring in Communications, Culture, Information and Technology and Professional Writing and Communications. In her spare time, Hannah can be found running her sticker shop The Aesthetics Studio and listening to true crime podcasts while drawing. Hannah’s previous publications include UTM's Professional Writing and Communication official journal of creative non-fiction Mindwaves Vol. 15 and research in Compass Vol. 9. Hannah was also an associate editor for Compass Vol. 9. Find Hannah on Instagram and LinkedIn.