Quick! Redesign the logo!

Here is Steve Jobs talking about Paul Rand who designed the logo for NeXT computers:

Steve makes the point that companies have to spend 10 years and a hundred million dollars to associate a logo with a company in the customer’s mind. And this is the key thing that is overlooked in most discussions about logos. It’s there to create an association.

Paul Rand’s approach was not to provide different choices that could be judged on their aesthetics but “to solve a problem”. The logo serves a purpose, it is not there for its own sake. It is not there because it looks good or is visually witty or at least not only for these reasons.

Changing a company’s identity is a way to refresh its image, but it also leaves behind the associations that customers have with the company. Every time you change, you reset customer expectations. This was useful for Windscale which became associated with the word “disaster” but can be harmful if you want to preserve your image.

Redesigning your logo is rarely the answer to any problem. The logo is only the sign you hang on your reputation. If the sign is ugly it doesn’t make a terrible company. Conversely, a terrible company can’t change by hanging a new sign.

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