It is only by association with a product, a service, a business, or a corporation that a logo takes on any real meaning. It derives its meaning and usefulness from the quality of that which it symbolizes. If a company is second rate, the logo will eventually be perceived as second rate. It is foolhardy to believe that a logo will do its job right off, before an audience has been properly conditioned. Only after it becomes familiar does a logo function as intended; and only when the product or service has been judged effective or ineffective, suitable or unsuitable, does it become truly representative.
— Paul Rand (1991) Logos, Flags, and Escutcheons
It’s quite rare to see an article so precise and rich as this one. In the field of branding, it’s even less common. I’m not surprised that the author is the great Paul Rand.
The one quoted above is a very difficult concept when you do proper brand design (the same happens for names). If Facebook wasn’t the company it’s now, people would have laughed at any brand consultant suggesting “Facebook” as a proper name for a global company. Google? Don’t even get me started. And Nike’s swoosh doesn’t mean anything, for the good rest of all the experts that try to get a meaning in things, Adidas one is even less so.
Yet, these are huge, strong brands today.
Yet, a brand strategist is called all the times to suggest things like these, even if most of the value of the symbol is made up by the company actions.
That’s why today it’s in hype the idea of a “dialogic brands”, however this is nothing new. Real experts, as Rand above, knew and told us that all along, more than 20 years ago.
A good brand designer, a good brand strategist, needs first to intimately understand the values of the company and the business itself. The final graphic execution is secondary and its success is dependent on the company alignment and focus, first.
Read the full article, it’s really a must, it even explains the 7 elements that make a good logo:
Via Ciro Esposito.