It’s not uncommon for marketing consultants to preach the need for a meaningful logo, something that communicates by itself from day one. Ries and Trout used to argue that brand names like ‘Head and Shoulders’ were much better than meaningless names like ‘Pantene’ or ‘Vosene’. We marketing people tend to take our brands, and logos, very seriously and tend to assume that consumers do too, but this is misguided out-of-touch thinking.
Brands, and their distinctive assets, identify – that’s it. They (potentially) ensure that people know it is you, not someone else advertising. They allow people to repeat-buy you, to see you on shelf.
Consumers rarely stop to think about whether the logo looks nice, trustworthy, or conveys any other connotation. Few people (outside of the marketing industry) ponder….
- Why America’s largest most famous burger chain has a Scottish name ?
- Why one of Australia’s largest banks is named after a word that means to steal (nab) ?
- What does purple have to do with chocolate ? And what do the words Snickers, Mars or Kit-Kat mean ? Why is Toblerone a triangle ?
- What does IBM stand for ? What does the word Accenture mean ? Why is Google called Google, or Amazon called Amazon ?
- Is HP Sauce sold by HP (computing) ? Do Walker’s crisps and Walker’s shortbread come from the same company ?
People don’t ask these questions because brandnames and logos are simply that. THEY BRAND THAT”S ALL. They stand for a particular company operating in a particular category. And getting consumers to even understand that requires very hard marketing work and lots of money and time. Consultants and designers who think that brand names, logos and other brand assets have any deeper intrinsic meaning are merely showing how poorly they understand real consumer behaviour, and commercial reality.
This isn’t to say that designers don’t put an awful lot of thought into logos. For example see this video (I’m sure parts will surprise you). This thinking is one of the reasons why brand owners tend to over-estimate how consumers use their logo.