Whether it be a sceptic friend, stubborn grandad, or god forbid, an unhappy client, there's nothing worse than to hear these words ‘I could have done that’. That sad moment a simplistic logo becomes the subject of ridicule for the sole reason that it is easily recreated. While there is undeniably a place for complexity in design and branding, my heart goes out to all those undermined logos that are just doing their job.
It got us thinking. When concerning branding, why is it that complexity is linked to value? Why is it that Instagram's 2016 rebrand came with a side of "I could have made that in Paint." Hey, BT hadn't even officially launched their rebrand, and they were already getting hate!
The comments likely come from the same thought process that riddles the traditional art vs contemporary art argument. An artist's effort is often apparent in 'conventional' art – the hours and expertise are almost tangible in a piece's complexity. But while classics like Raphael’s ‘School of Athens’ often provoke thought through immersion and awe, the contemporary artist looks to evoke feeling through what is, or isn't, on the canvas. In a way, traditional art is there to be marvelled at, whereas modern art is there to say something to the viewer. I think this is where design and contemporary art share qualities; they are both devices for function through form.
This difference in intention is the reason that simplicity in a logo triggers some whinges. Instead of looking at logos as a visual expense, people should understand it as a strategic investment; a logo is merely the tip of the branding iceberg. Branding, or rebranding, is more business consultancy and positioning and less putting makeup on a pig. Often, a simple and functional logo manages to communicate what a brand stands for – serving as a promise to their customers, both prospective and retained.
Don't get me wrong. There can be some awfully bland logos out there that really do not serve many purposes, but that's often an issue from foundation to execution. Branding is a beautiful harmony between creative and strategy, with logos tying a delightful bow on top.
We'll be starting our podcast soon, where you'll be able to hear us blab on more about branding strategy, design, and execution. But I guess what I'm trying to get at here is that, sometimes, sure "you could have done that", but you didn't. And more importantly, do you know why it works, and how to make it work?