What’s the worst that could happen? How ignoring the fundamentals of good logo design almost killed.

Not only can it hamstring your business, it can kill. That’s how bad a bad logo can be.

I’ll explain how in a moment, but before I get to that, allow me to make one thing clear:

Logo design is not an intuitive process. It is shockingly easy to make mistakes that cost businesses dearly in both time and money, if you don’t know what you’re doing.

As researchers at MIT have found, a good logo is the tool you give your customers to easily identify your brand and differentiate you from your competition. Giving them the wrong logo is like handing a rubber chicken to a carpenter when they ask for a hammer: you’ll end up looking like a fool and nothing will get built.

I’ve seen hundreds of rubber chickens in my time as a marketing specialist, but I’ll give you an example with which you may be familiar: the London 2012 Olympics logo.

London 2012 logo

The deadliest logo

This logo cost the British taxpayer four hundred thousand pounds.

As an experiment, I showed this logo to my content specialist (sans the Olympic rings and the word ‘London’) and asked him what it was. He looked at it for a moment and then asked if the symbol in the top right-hand corner was supposed to represent Australia. When I told him it didn’t, he shrugged his shoulders.

He wasn’t the only one stumped. When the logo was released to the public, it was met with world-wide scorn. People found it confusing, gaudy and downright non-sensical. Thirty-three thousand people signed a petition to have the logo changed, and Iran threatened to boycott the games completely in response to many reading the word ‘Zion’ (Hebrew for ‘Jerusalem’) instead of ‘2012’, in the design.

Perhaps the most egregious mistake made by the designers was that they did not perform a simple health check on the animated version of their logo. Only after doctors from around the world warned that the flashing advertisement could cause deadly epileptic fits, was the logo retooled to a safer format.

Again, this logo cost four hundred thousand pounds.

So, what went wrong?

Quite simply, the London 2012 Olympic logo failed on all four fundamental principles of good logo design.

It made a terrible first impression

A logo needs to be instantly recognisable and easily accessible. While it can represent many themes or values, there should not be any ambiguity as to what the image is communicating.

It had no discernible identity

A logo should serve as the guiding light that shines upon the aspects of your business that you are most proud: those intrinsic to your brand.

It made the London Olympics committee look unprofessional

Your client wants to know that they are in safe, well-practiced hands. As logos are so intrinsic to how we mediate our relationship with brands, a logo blunder can undermine the very foundation of our trust in a company.

It was not designed to work in multiple contexts

Your logo could go anywhere: your product, a billboard, the rear window of a car. The possibilities are nearly limitless. It needs to be customisable to any situation in which it might be displayed.

Where to start with your new logo

Before you think about colours, shapes, or even whether to include your business name, you need to answer one seemingly simple question
What is the core concept of my business?
This is the message, set of values, and vision, that underpins every aspect of your business, which is then expressed as a simple statement. Look at every successful logo in the history of business and you will see that they all communicate the brand’s core concept.
Find your core concept and you’ve found the bedrock of your company.

If you’d like help taking the next steps in developing your logo, contact us. We’ll make sure you get it right the first time.

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