Identity Crisis

This (stolen) picture of logos demonstrates a property of corporate image done well: Even when the logo is obscured in an unusual way, I can still identify the company.

I even distinguished the “The” from “The New York Times” and the “The” from “The Wall Street Journal.”

Is your corporate image so unique that this trick would work for you? Here’s a hint, if your logo is just some meaningless shapes made by a Photoshop weenie, the answer is no.

If your logo were a performer on American Idol, would Simon Cowell say “It was OK, it was safe, but your problem is you’re forgettable.”

So change it! I know that sounds scary, but if your image is already forgettable, changing it isn’t a big deal.

Don’t worry about confusing existing customers. Customers love you, not your logo. They will be pleased to see something interesting. They’ll be happy you’re making a bold statement about who you are. You can announce it to them if you’re afraid they’ll get lost. When we upgraded our logo not one person was confused and many complemented us on the new look.

Don’t worry about resetting your brand equity. Unless you’re Google or IBM, the vast majority of your potential customers never heard of you, much less have an attachment to a logo. Even if they’ve seen it a few times, if you’re forgettable, they will have forgotten. Better to reset now and start spending money on an image they can remember.

Finally, remember that “image” is more than logo. It’s the attitude of your prose, it’s a cool give-away, it’s a killer idea presented clearly. Make a bold, unique statement if you want to be remembered.


  • Hey Josh.

    Long time reader, first time poster.

    To be fair, most of the recognizable logos has substantial advertising behind them. I agree the logo should be recognizable, but if you can’t afford the TV spots of Yahoo or if you don’t have the word-of-mouth of MySpace, the best thing to do is make sure your logo instantly portrays what your business does.

  • Good point! I’ve often lamented the fact that neither our company name nor our logo reflects what we do. At least our product is aptly named.

    But even with intense advertising, a boring logo might not be recognized. Yahoo is known for their “crazy” purple; if they just had a generic “3/4th Halo around a ball” logo, would you still know it’s Yahoo?

    Also, I would argue that Yahoo grew out of word-of-mouth, using TV advertising long after it became popular and well-known.

    Still, your point is well-taken. You can’t go wrong making the logo show what you do.