06 June 2007

Olympics highlight demise of logo branding

Olympics highlight demise of logo branding
By Naseem Javed

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the new London 2012 Summer Olympics logo, but there is something seriously wrong with the logo-driven branding industry at large.

The new logo clearly proves that as we approach 2012, global society will not respond to conventional logos or graphics, but only to insignificant, dysfunctional and obscure design work, which will eventually become the branding norm throughout the world. This clearly indicates the lingering demise of the logo-branding industry.

The US$800,000 logo for the London Games, a graffiti-style spelling of "2012", in shades of pink, blue, green and orange, has, all the same, been branded by some as "hideous" after being launched on Monday.

Today's global consumers find advertising increasingly numbing. Twisted and contrived hype, often described as logo-driven branding, will eventually desensitize customers.

Let's face it, in this hyper-accelerated society, logos are almost dead. Fifty years ago, customers remembered the logos of IBM or Chevrolet, which presented uniquely mind-grabbing graphical ideas by compressing their images into extremely sharp messages via powerful symbols.

Not today - pick 10 companies and try to remember their logos, and ask yourself if they really have an impact. With a million new logos a month being invented by the computer-savvy, small-business armies of ever-growing nations such as India and China, only the very naive and the ad industry continue to dream in technicolor, convinced that customers are memorizing the identical circles and lines in twisted colors now called fly-by-night and changed-by-the-day logos.

This overly zealous creativity needs to be harnessed as the cut-and-paste culture and the latest libraries of a million logos available for free have shifted the goalposts. This is one of the main reasons where advertising consistently and tragically fails over real marketing of real concepts.

Luckily, the Olympics are the modern world's icon extraordinaire, and having personally marketed the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, I have witnessed the power of their name and what awesome global presence it carries. The London 2012 Games are not at all at the mercy of this new logo, as the ever-unique, powerful and recognizable image of the Five Rings will provide longevity to the Olympics' ever-growing brand.

In reality, you need graphic overload and out-of-control logo treatments when your brand-name identity has no value. What are the logos of Microsoft, Sony or Panasonic? What graphical techniques do they employ? Most smart corporations prefer powerful word marks, as their powerful, recognizable names stand alone in the rough marketplace and are not at the mercy of overblown graphics going through repeated treatments that are commonly labeled as brand positioning.

Clearly, there are two schools of thought: logo-driven and name-identity-driven.

The principal belief of major global logo-branding agencies that any name can become a super-brand is based entirely on bottomless budgets, and if for any reason it doesn't work, so what? Is this the reason agencies are so often changed? Denials about the ultimate power of a global Five-Star Standard of Naming will continue to hurt the global ad industry.

The other school of thought envisages the new-name economy, in which name brands, as mature identities, skate on e-commerce from one region to another, amid a highly mobile society that bears a strong understanding of the potential power behind the successful branding of a powerful name.

As we approach the future, big logo-branding is dying fast while we enter a cyber-geared culture and a new name-driven economy.

Naseem Javed is recognized as a world authority on name identities and global image branding. He introduced The Laws of Corporate Naming in the 1980s and also founded ABC Namebank International in Toronto and New York a quarter-century ago. Naseem can be reached at nj@njabc.com .

(Copyright 2007 Naseem Javed.)

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