One of the most common questions I receive is, “Can you design me a logo?” While the hypothetical answer is, yes, I can design you a logo, the actual answer is, no, I won’t design you a logo. Why is the actual answer no? Because the mere request for a logo is open-ended and short sighted. This is by no means the end of the road or the conversation, however, it marks the beginning of a series of conversations.
I believe in developing a unique and responsive brand identity and design language that spans across a variety of mediums in a cohesive manner. I don’t believe in half-assing design or setting people or their businesses up for failure. If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this right. If we’re going to build a brand, we’re going to build a brand, not just the image of one.
Most people think they just need a logo, but contrary to their belief, they just want a logo. It’s important to place emphasis on need and want to bring attention to their differences. Often times, a client’s perceived needs are simply wants which differ from what their business truly needs.
This want/need relationship is extremely common because clients are limited to their own perspective, they’re only seeing their business from the inside, and they will never get the experience of truly seeing it from the outside. So it’s easy to think that they just need a logo. Very rarely is that the case.
There’s much more to a business, a company, a brand than what’s on the surface—than just a logo. Michael Bierut has famously stated, “Clients seeking an identity often think what they want is a logo. But this is like acquiring a personality by buying a hat.”
“Clients seeking an identity often think what they want is a logo. But this is like acquiring a personality by buying a hat.” —Michael Bierut
A logo is purely a moment and without any content it lacks the ability to stand as or even develop into a story. Branding is the understanding and articulation of a story. Thomas Hull of Rigsby Hull has mentioned that design is largely about organization beyond that of a visual practice—the organization of information, research, ideas, thoughts, opinions, questions, and solutions.
Perhaps there will be a case where a client simply needs a logo and just designing a logo is entirely appropriate, but even so, my energy, efforts, knowledge, and skill are best utilized when I’m developing a holistic vision and system for a brand that extends past the surface details. This is equally for the benefit of my own focus as well as the client’s goals and needs.
It’s not that I lack the abilities to design a logo or this is an active attempt to be a jerk, it’s just that designing a logo isn’t where my focus should be. A common mistake designers make is not understanding where their focus should be and understanding how to be most efficient with their skills and creativity.
In what ways are you not managing your skills and creativity efficiently or effectively? When you begin to discover how you’re most efficient with your abilities, you’ll be forced to turn down more work yet you’ll be allowing yourself to work on the projects that actually matter to you.