When a new logo is just wrong.

Recently I was asked by an organization to create a new logo for them. They had conducted surveys of their constituents and made it and other research available to me. They also sent me a video link so that I could watch meetings of the committee discussing the new logo and the process.

As I read through the surveys, perused the research, and watched the video proceedings, it became increasingly clear that they had a problem that had nothing to do with their logo. They didn’t have a broken logo, they had a broken brand. And no logo on the planet can fix a broken brand. The best logo in the world will not save a bad brand, anymore than a bad logo can hurt a really good one. So I had to explain I couldn’t, in good conscience, take on their project until they addressed the elephant in the room.

So what was the problem with their brand? It was very obvious that the people on the committee were not in agreement what the brand was, nor how the process should go—never a good working environment for a designer who needs open-mindedness and cooperation in order to feel free to create. But the even bigger problem was the lack of confidence the constituents had in the brand and in the committee. They were putting their efforts into a “paint job” and not the cure. A fool’s errand.

You have to be careful to know where the work needs to be done on your brand, your product, your service, or your logo. Is the brand firing on all eight cylinders? Granted, it is harder to repair a faltering brand than it is to introduce a new logo, even as arduous as that can be

So, before you launch developing anew logo, run the surveys, do the research, and make sure that your constituency, both inside your organization and outside, are experiencing all the qualities of a healthy brand. If the answer is a resounding “yes”, and all the feedback is positive, and you still feel like you need a new logo, then by all means—you deserve it. A new logo should be a celebration of a respected brand and not a cover-up for one that is failing. People don’t buy your logo, they buy your brand.

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