Azzcat Blast

Design stories & tips, peppered with life's little tidbits

Logo Design: Brick and Mortar Reality

October 26th, 2009

What is the value of a logo? To the business owner who sees $99 logo services all over the internet? Or the ‘undiscovered’ design student entering contests? What about the experienced professional designer?

Short answer? HA! There isn’t. The “value” of a logo depends on whom you ask.

And since this is my blog, I’m going to tell you my version of value.

The Good. The Bad. And the Ugly.

Good is when you get what you need at a fair price.

Bad is when you get something you don’t need–high or low priced–doesn’t matter. If the logo doesn’t work, it’s bad.

Ugly* is when you “think” you have a good deal, only to find out later, ummm…not so much.

*Ugly includes: reproduction issues, customer perception problems, copyright infringement lawsuits…stuff like that.

Today, I’m focusing on B.A.D.

My friend was in negotiations to open a new brick and mortar high-end eyewear store in one of the priciest malls in the state. He’d need the works: logo/business cards/collateral/signage/website/etc. and I was on tap for the projects. Cool!

Problem was, after back and forth delays (banks/mall/laywers!) I was booked out with other client work when he was ready for logo design! And, with the mall requiring signage installed by opening, time was of the essence.

So he did what many business owners do–he tapped an online logo design service. One that promised LOTs of options, unlimited revisions, etc. (You know where this is going, don’t you?) ;-)

Now, I don’t know what my friend paid this company–but that’s irrelevant. Because no matter the amount, their logo comps are a bad value.

Why? They completely missed the boat.

Look back up a few paragraphs. See the line “a new brick and mortar high-end eyewear store in one of the priciest malls in the state”? Right there is the creative brief. Sure, it’s bare bones, but it’s chock full of info. Info such as:

  1. We’re selling glasses.
  2. We’re selling high end glasses.
  3. We’re paying a high end rent for the place where we sell high end glasses.
  4. We’re going to need to put up some high end signs on the building in this high end mall where we’re paying high end rent to sell high end glasses.

Here’s a sampling of what the online logo design company sent (not so high end!):


The first three above are the “eyeball comps”. Notice the stylized bulging “eyeball” in each–guess the word “EYE” in the name needs to be REINFORCED for stupid people! Wait…are we selling eyeballs or glasses????


Second set is the “…cross my heart, hope to die, STICK A NEEDLE in my EYE…” group. Again, think we’re selling glasses NOT laser surgery!


Third set is the druggie set: a) Star Trek eyeballs on drugs; b) Venn diagram eyeballs on drugs; c) “My Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades”, but I’m on drugs and staring at my own nose!


And last, but not least, the Who, Who, Who? Eyeballs.

Only two of the above samples are about EYEWEAR rather than EYEBALLS. None use a distinctive or appropriate font. Really–they are beyond BAD and seriously delve into UGLY. Why? (Aside from customer ‘perception’ problems, that is!)

Because They Ignore the Reality of Brick and Mortar

They forget that:

  • The logo for this store must exist as a three dimensional, halo lit, aluminum sign.
  • It must exist on a brushed aluminum blade sign.
  • It must work on fax pages.
  • It must work in Word documents.
  • It must work in small sizes.
  • It might have to be embroidered on fabric.
  • It might be etched into glass.
  • And yes–it will eventually be on the internet, where anything is possible!

But First: It Will Exist in the Real World

Follow the story at Logo Triage and Emergency Art Direction.
Chapter Three is Logo Critical Care & Stabilization.
See logo in action: Logo: Brick & Mortar & Open for Business.

PS…May 14, 2010

Bad logo samples
Just for fun, a couple more choice selections from that first bunch mentioned above:

  • B) Will that be regular or premium?
  • C) Jerry Garcia is alive and selling eyewear!


7 Responses to “Logo Design: Brick and Mortar Reality”

Mark McCorkell
May 14, 2010

Some of those logos are awful lol, and yes, they completely missed the whole brief with every single one of those.

Were you approached then to design their final logo?

May 14, 2010

I managed to save my client from the really bad logos. My schedule opened up and I pulled a simple logotype together as fast as possible. Once the lease was signed, the mall required signage to be installed within a few weeks. Whew!

Mark McCorkell
May 14, 2010

I seen your logo – really classy work. 

Logo’s can form in minutes, hours or weeks, and it’s a hard thing to explain to a client because understandably it’s a hard thing to explain.

But, to quote Paula Scher…

“It took me a few seconds to draw it, but it took me 34 years to learn how to draw it in a few seconds.”


Leighton Hubbell
May 14, 2010

Fun read. I will be interested in how this scenario plays out.

You’re right, a shotgun blast of nothing on strategy. That was a nice way of breaking down the very condensed creative brief into informational nuggets. A sign of a seasoned professional;)