Brand marks: The resurrection of logos

wwf, logo, identity, black and whiteIf logos aren’t dead, then a genocide is in order.

I think there’s a need for graphic designers to gradually move away from the term “logo.” There’s really nothing wrong with the term itself, the problem is the expectations that clients have placed on logos.

But most importantly, the fact that graphic design has evolved to be a discipline that should be led by branding.

Therefore, some of its terminology should be adjusted accordingly.

Abandoned are the unbranded

No amount of good, kick-ass, wow, dope, or cool graphic design will reward the entrepreneur if their business has a second-rate branding strategy, or worse, if it doesn’t have a branding strategy at all.

In such instances, graphic design is nothing but the making of pretty pictures.

In the context of commerce, a graphic designer is a blessing to the entrepreneur. In a sense that the designer possess the expertise to articulate their brand strategy, through strategic arrangement and choice of visuals.

The name of the game

What we call things is more important that we realize.

If I introduce you to a someone who is a painter. It’s inevitable that you expect them to, well, paint. A singer, to sing. A dancer, to dance. A cook, to cook.

What I like is that the noun is termed based on the verb. He who does, is a doer. No confusion, or unfair expectations there.

So, if you hire a dancer only to find out that he can’t paint. The blame should be on you, and not on the poor dancer.

The way forward

Like I have mentioned in my previous writing, I too strongly urge that we as designers let go of the term “Logo,” and replace it with either “brand identity” or “brand mark.”

I like brand identity, but the downside of the term is that its a bit vague. As a brand identity can be both, visual and verbal. So, brand mark it is.

What I like about the term “brand mark” is that within the term itself, lies its purpose of which will discard the unfair expectations that a logo is somehow expected to fulfill.

Irrational expectations like a logo solely having to make a sale, whenever it is paraded in an ad.

But “Logo” is tattooed in our minds?

First thing first, whether you too see what I’m proposing as the most logical step forward or not, the transition will definitely not happen overnight. But it will need all those that share the same stance with me to double as an evangelist for the term “brand marks.”

There are colleagues who are already doing their bit, and Andrew Sabister is one of the very few that I am aware of.

The steering of this transition is our responsibility as graphic designers, and not the clients’.

The hurdle that needs to be jumped

I strongly believe that graphic designers need to create, and advocate branding-led visual communication solutions. It’s either that, or we play decorators.

There are a few deliverables within the graphic design discipline that seem like they don’t require an in-depth strategic branding thinking. Things like CD covers, posters, leaflets, etc. But I think they, to some extent, do.

The biggest challenge is no doubt, the fact that there are graphic designers who have an opposing stance, regarding the importance of branding.

I am saying it again, “graphic design needs to be branding-led.”

But who am I to press-gang you to be of the same stance as me, when some of the world’s renowned and “celebrated” graphic designers think that:

sagmeister, branding is crap, testimonials, quotations, website, branding
[Screenshot: Sagmeister, Inc.]

My take on the above disregard of branding

Take time to understand the logic behind branding, and hopefully you’ll share the same points of view with those that advocate branding-led graphic design. Only after that, can you start your transition from “logo” to “brand mark.”

— Long live brand marks!