Y’know those deeply held beliefs that you hold near and dear to your heart (and never tell a soul) because they go against everything you’ve been taught about a particular subject?
Well, I’m finally coming out: I think logos are almost pointless.
I’ve thought this for years.
But last week on Instagram was logo-geddon. It was as if every designer I love and respect had some secret club meeting and decided all at once that it was finally time to publicly take down the long-lived reign of the logo.
(And in reality, while I’m sure there was no secret meeting, they all happened to post—all at once—about this topic. It was kind of wild.)
Now, before you get your undies in a bunch—YES, I still design them for my clients and they come included in my packages. I don’t think a brand is complete without one. But do I think they are as necessary to the success of your business as they once were?
Here are some brand elements that matter 1,000,000x more to the success of your business.
Your Creative Direction
Imagine someone just blindfolded you, drove you to an undisclosed location 2 hours away, guided you out of the car and led you into an air-conditioned building.
As soon as you step inside, you’re greeted with a familiar smell: coffee. You already have an idea of where you are. And when they remove the blindfold from your face, you see you’re in a coffee shop featuring dark brown wood details and dark green menus with white lettering.
You’re in a Starbucks, of course.
You clock it immediately. You clocked it with the smell before you even took the blindfold off.
Most importantly: you haven’t laid your eyes upon the logo yet, but you know exactly where you’re standing.
That’s creative direction. Think of creative direction as the overall ~vibe~ of your brand. The macro vision for how all the pieces come together. Starbucks’ green color on its own wouldn’t be as recognizable as it is when it’s paired with those classic wood countertops and black details all over. But together, it makes one cohesive visual ~vibe~ that your brain immediately associates with the brand.
And that vibe? Way more powerful than a logo could ever be.
Your Photography and/or Videography
It makes sense to me why everyone thinks they need a logo right at the beginning. I mean, it’s all we’ve been taught for decades—it’s such common knowledge that even folks without an entrepreneurial bone in their body know about it.
While I’m thrilled that the graphic designers of the 80’s and 90’s got their message out to the masses, we live in a digital age now. No business is successful without their website or their social media channels. And what’s required for websites and social? Imagery.
Think of the last time you interacted with your favorite brand online. Did you see their logo somewhere? Or did you recognize the photo and/or video content as their signature style?
My favorite example of this is Equinox. I’m a member, I have their app on my phone, and I go there at least 4x a week. If I think really hard, I can picture their logo. But when I’m served one of their targeted ads on Instagram, my brain recognizes their sexy, edgy, raunchy imagery first. (I know it’s Equinox as soon as I see two absolutely shredded men in a suggestive position with low-exposure lighting and a color filter—and if I didn’t already have a membership, that image would sell me on one. Your logo can’t do that.)
And imagery is not just important for Instagram. You could have the most stunning logo on planet earth, but without some form of photo and video content, what else are you going to put on your website?
I’ll tell ya one thing—you’re gonna need more than a logo.
Your Brand Voice
Logo schmogo. If I’m not sold on your product or service by your website copy or Instagram captions, then it doesn’t matter—I’m not buying.
While I’d argue that creative direction and imagery are the first things I’ll notice subconsciously about your brand to put 2-and-2 together, it takes much more than stunning visuals to make a sale. I need to be sold to, bestie. I need to be shown and told how your product or service will make my life better in some way.
And you can do that with or without a logo.
The brands that show up in my inbox or on my Instagram feed and have a strong point of view on something—those are the brands I remember, respect, and buy from.
And I actually don’t think I could picture a single one of their logos in my head.
Your favorite influencers and content creators don’t have logos, and their businesses make more money than many of us can even imagine. Y’know why? Because they have a point of view, irresistible content, and keep us captivated.
That’s all you need.
Now, I’m not saying you need to be an influencer to be successful, but creating valuable, entertaining, educational, or insightful content is important to any business’s marketing strategy here in the year of our lord 2023. (Also, cultivating a personal brand is helpful. Read this blog post on why.)
If new business owners put as much stock into their content creation routines as they do into their logos, I am *confident* they’d grow so much faster.
(Not to mention, do you know how much fun it is to unveil a new logo when you already have a built-in audience!? People love following a journey. Give them one to follow.)
Jeez, Kleist—what did logos ever do to you?
Logos did nothing to me. Love a logo! Love having a fancy little thing to put in the top left hand corner of my website. Looks sick, 10/10 reccommend.
But that logo never did anything for me either. I’d bet my life savings that it never made the sale, it was never the differentiating factor, and it never made someone remember me either.
If you’re looking for a brand design experience that prioritizes executing the macro vision, you know where to find me 😉
Hey, I'm Sarah Kleist.
Brand builder, website designer, and performing artist on a mission to help creatives and business owners step into their digital spotlight.
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