The Logo Doesn't Tell The Whole Story

5 min read

Let’s travel back in time to 1971. We’re going to meet a Portland University student named Carolyn Davidson. We tell her we want a logo, one that represents ‘movement’. She agrees. After about 17.5 hours of work, she comes to us and presents a tick sign. ‘What’s that?’, we say, ‘just a tick? I mean where’s the dazzling font, surrealistic pictures, elaborate emojis or something? ’ Well that’s what our hypothetical avatar might do, but not Phil Knight, Nike’s founder.

He didn’t like it, for reasons obvious to us, but he decided to stick with it, for reasons not so obvious to us. Today, that simple ‘tick’ is now widely known as the Nike Swoosh; and I bet you can’t mention any other tick as notable as that one(the ones on your school homework don’t count).

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So what happened? How did something so mundane, so simple, become so relevant today? Well here’s our answer. Nike built the logo into what it is today. The logo is a symbol of the brand, but not the brand itself. So what is? Well, we don’t know about you, but when we see Nike, we think of two things, quality products and unforgettable stories. The product and superb customer service acquainted people with the Swoosh. The more they came back, the more they connected with it as Nike continued to perform beyond expectations.

We recently pitched three logo designs to a client for his barbershop. Obviously he was reluctant to pick one, maybe it was the fear of missing out on other possible designs. He wanted something perfect, something like the Mona Lisa on steroids. He was predisposed to the mindset that the logo represented everything about the brand, well he’s not exactly wrong, but not exactly right either. We get a thrill off of dealing with clients like this because it forces us to challenge our assumptions as well as that of the client. We made him realise that without a brand, a logo is just a plain picture, and we know pictures may be worth a thousand words, but those words don’t tell the whole story. We decided to tell it ourselves. We spoke about our thought process, our motivations, our reason for each element we incorporated into the design. The moment we finished our dialogue, our barber was enthusiastic enough to beat the paradox of choice and pick his favourite design. Our own experience showed us what we suspected all along. A brand’s top two superpowers are the service rendered and the stories told. People won’t connect with a brand, let alone a logo if they hate the experience they had there. An exceptional service creates a feeling in the air that customers can’t understand and don’t find anywhere else. This brings about retention, they keep coming back, curious to find out more. Why did they feel that way? How can they feel it again? What’s in store that hasn’t been seen yet? How does the brand create cool experiences? Strive to create a feeling that there’s something about your brand that is unique, something transcendental.

Blog image Now for the second trait, A story. Stories move people, gets us to collaborate, humans are the dominant species today because we’re the only species capable of cooperating The Nike SwooshThe Logo Doesn't Tell The Whole Story 3 in large numbers. We’re able to do this because we tell stories that unite us. People won’t connect with a logo until they’ve been told the story behind it. Adidas is a good example, their famous three stripes, tilted to about thirty degrees to the left and shown in order of increasing height. This is intentionally made to represent a mountain. This would probably be strange to us at first sight. It’s pretty austere. So here’s the story behind it. It represents in the company’s own words, ‘It represents the challenges to be faced and the goals to be achieved’. Well coming from a company with consistent successes like Adidas, that logo hits harder now. The logo didn’t change one bit, our perception of it did. That’s the power of a good story, now we see the cup as half full instead of half empty.

At Soundclaz, we don’t just design and advertise. We always make sure there’s a story in there to tell and we always do our best to provide a service that’s to die for. The logo is important, it’s a compact pictorial representation of your brand’s philosophy. The thing is, at first sight, it’s not that great to most people outside your inner circle. Good service and an engaging story will change that. That’s what should be worked on, that’s what matters. These two things turned a bunch of stripes into an iconic symbol of excellence. The logo doesn’t build the brand, the brand builds the logo.