May 2015 Special Section

The Truth About Logos

Written By: Greg Ash

By now, we are all familiar with the Nike swoosh, which was designed by a Portland State University student and is now a symbol for one of the most powerful brands on the planet. However, it wasn’t Caroline Davidson’s skill at drawing check marks that made Nike’s mark so special. The real meaning comes from the products and messaging Nike has created over the past 30- plus years.

When we enter into a new brand development process, the word “logo” will without a doubt come up. A slight uncomfortable silence is quickly followed by all of the political, historical and financial implications wrapped up in the single mark. Not to mention, the chairman of the board’s wife’s cousin was the original designer. Oh, and no one likes it.

The good news is that you don’t need a great logo to have a great brand. Logos are designed to be functional, meaning they work across every platform and medium seamlessly. It’s easy to get caught in the new logo trap. Anytime the bottom line slips or brand loyalty isn’t as strong, a new logo seems to be the answer. But, in fact, it’s the meaning of the logo that needs to change.

It doesn’t need a logo to appeal to all of your different audiences, and it certainly doesn’t need a logo to stand out against your competition. Your logo simply exists to identify that a message, a store, an employee or a truck is yours.

Take a look at your latest ad campaign. Cover your logo, and look again. What needs to be refined — your logo, or what it means?

GREG ASH is the creative director responsible for the 160over90 south office.

He began his career designing apparel for a local surfing company, where he uncovered a passion for the outdoors and the art of branding. Over a decade later, he has seen the inside of global advertising firms and small design boutiques. His work has been featured in The One Show, Communication Arts and published in four books. Greg has had the privilege of developing brand campaigns for a dozen universities as well as consumer clients including Ferrari of North America, Google, the Miami Dolphins, AAA, Godiva Liqueurs, Johnson & Johnson and American Eagle.

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