Have you ever heard the somewhat Northern phrase “you can’t polish a turd”? This is sometimes an appropriate analogy when applied to branding. From a design point of view, good branding starts with the logo and follows through any marketing literature or promotional activity a company wishes to use to communicate what’s special about them, their products and their services to their target audience.
It flows through everything they do, everything they represent and the message and visual style needs to be consistent… however if their logo looks great, but their service and products are awful, neither are going to be a success.
If Nike’s first few pairs of trainers were badly made, ugly to look at and uncomfortable, there’s every chance they might not have grown to become the behemoth of a brand they now are. A fancy logo may cover over the cracks, it might attract people in and initially increase brand awareness, but if the ‘destination’ doesn’t live up to the ‘promise’, customers won’t come back for more. In Nike’s case, they had everything right, they delivered on their promise to customers and we all bought into their brand. The Nike swoosh logo has subsequently become iconic for the right reasons. As Michael Bierut says in the video below, when the swoosh was first designed it wasn’t anything special, it was because the products were good and with the genius of Nike’s marketing apparatus we now associate the brand with athletic achievement.
A good logo is important for any size business, it should tick all the boxes that make a logo effective by being ‘Simple, Memorable, Timeless, Versatile and Appropriate’… but to become truly iconic it needs the rest of the brand strategy to be in place too, there are no quick fixes, we shouldn’t be ‘polishing turds’.