Simon Manchipp, one of three partners at London-based SomeOne, said on Twitter: “Logos are dead. Yet we have been featured in the new book Logo Design Love as an example of how to do logos. They are a hangover from old-school thinking about branding. There is no desire by the public for a new logo. They are simply an old-fashioned approach to differentiating products or services.”
Upon questioning, Manchipp explicitly meant that: “Symbols invented to accompany brand names are a waste of time, money and effort.”
I asked David Law, Manchipp’s partner at SomeOne (and the man who kindly submitted SomeOne’s designs for inclusion in my book), what he thought of his partner’s statement:
“It’s something we have been debating internally for quite a while. When you look at brands like O2, its success lies in the richness and depth of its brand world (bubbles, blue gradient, etc.). This forms a flexible branded platform that is instantly recognisable — you could remove the logo and still know the brand. The logo in itself is not the ‘hero’.
“In the past, brands like IBM and FedEx traded on the logo as the ‘hero’. We see it even today. So while we all acknowledge that the logo is not about to disappear — and that it is still an important part of any brand toolkit — there is a case for applying more emphasis on brand worlds.
“The ‘favicon’ or ‘twibbon’ is now the equivalent of the ‘black and white fax’ that we all learnt (years ago) was the minimum requirement for a logo to be recognisable as. These are much smaller applications than we have ever had to deal with, and ones where traditional logos are struggling.
“Brands now ‘move’ as standard — being ‘Apple‘ implies all sorts of physics that lend attributes to the brand and do not rely on the logo to do everything.
“Lastly, the amount of platforms, media, applications (and now ‘experiences’) that need to be branded has multiplied significantly with technology. People simply get bored quicker and brand worlds allow the conversation to ‘flow’.
“Yes, the logo is the ultimate ‘rechargeable battery’ of the brand and is the final distillation of all the brand’s attributes BUT what we are debating (and we haven’t reached any conclusion) is that if the brand world is powerful enough, could the ‘logo’ simply be the company name designed in a simple, ownable way? Possibly, dare I say it, with no symbol to sit alongside it?”
Symbol or no symbol is a valid question, and one I talk about in my book:
“Sometimes your clients just need a professional wordmark to identity their businesses. Use of a symbol can be an unnecessary addition.
“This is something you want to determine at the outset of the project. Ask your client if she has a preference one way or another. If the company is entertaining ideas about future expansion into other markets, it might be better to opt for a distinctive wordmark, because an identifying symbol might prove restrictive.”
Quoted from the Logo Design Love book.
So while Manchipp’s initial “Logos are dead” quote might be over the top, it still raises an interesting debate.
Tombstone photo from Flickr