“When people come to designers and they have an existing logo and they want to change, they want a new logo, one of the first questions, I’ll always ask and I’ll ask it over and over and over again until I feel like I’m getting the whole answer is like what’s wrong with what you’ve got now, why do you want to change this. Figure out what’s the best of what you do, what the very idealised image you have of your organisation and your institution and it’s purpose on earth and kind of use that as the starting point of what you do but don’t expect every aspect of that idealistic view to kind of be embedded in the work you’re commissioning. The introduction that this work will represent is really just an introduction, just the first word of a conversation that hopefully will last many years.

The most respected probably American graphic designer in history is a guy named Paul Rand, who is a Yale professor and famous for designing the IBM logo and the ABC logo and the UPS logo amongst may others and he once said that a good logo has the pleasure of recognition and the promise of meaning, so when you see it, it’s something memorable about that attracts you to it but also there’s the promise of meaning, that’s like the pursuit of happiness, you’re not guaranteed happiness, you’re guaranteed the right to pursue happiness and I think these logos don’t guarantee meaning but they sort of hold within them the promise of meaning and in a way that’s the compact that any organisation enters into with the world at large.

If you’re going to be public, if you’re going to represent yourself, you really are offering up something that people can engage with but also will criticise. People are now coming to understand that any logo or symbol is really just a starting point and that in fact more and more these days the general public wants to have a say in what that logo means and realising in a way that’s the real work of branding and it’s the most important thing to know about.”

Talk by Michael Bierut

Source: GLG (Gerson Lehrman Group)

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