the graphic design blog that speaks the truth

In this article I am going to be talking about logos, brand identity, wedding cakes & doughnuts.

Let’s set a scenario for a moment… A new business owner has a great new product or service that he or she aims to sell. They have a brilliant idea, know exactly who they are going to sell it to and where it is going to be sold. The competition has been analysed and the price has been set. The only task they have left to achieve is to let the target audience know that the product or service is available. This is achieved by creating an appropriate brand identity that is in line with the aims of the business, and of course by marketing the said identity.

Brand Identity
What is it? Well, it’s more than just a name or a logo. A brand identity encompasses everything that you visually associate with a brand. It’s the McDonald’s golden arches, the sleek & sexy packaging of Apple & even the fantastic gorilla TV advertisement by Cadbury’s. If it can help you identify a brand name, then it is part of the brand identity.

Thousands of new start-up businesses every single day face the task of creating a great brand identity that will not only give them a competitive advantage but also show that they are professional. This is achieved through effective visual communication created by designers.

Common practice for each identity project is for a designer or design team to be employed and provided with a design brief. It will outline the strategy of the business, their aims and objectives, what makes them different, the type of perceived image they are trying to create and the characteristics of the target audience. Plus a lot more. It is then the role of the design team to achieve the aims of the brief.

Now that we have that cleared up, I can finally talk about the main point of this article.

Backwards Branding
A new technique, developed mainly through the advancement of the Internet, is to do the whole process backwards. Some websites have appeared that allow start-ups to buy brand names coupled with an identity off the shelf, ready-made, sitting in wait for a potential owner.

A new business owner might see a logo/name and think ‘that’s perfect me, I’ll take it’. They buy the logo. Download the necessary files and go on their way slapping the logo on everything they cast their eyes upon. Essentially a happy ending. Or is it?

The Dangers
Let’s set another scenario…. you are getting married and you need a wedding cake made. You want it to fit into the theme of your wedding and look exactly how you want. Where would you go to get such a fantastic cake? Would you go to the local bakery and pick a cheap doughnut that had been sitting in the shop window for days or would you contact a specialist who can discuss your requirements, suggest the best solution based on your needs and create a custom designed cake that achieves everything that you ever dreamed of? If you are serious about your wedding then the custom-designed route is the likely choice.

What I am trying to say is that the danger of buying a ready-made brand is that there is no communication between the designer and the client BEFORE a solution was created. Communication is key during the branding process and removing the design brief stage is dangerous for the following reasons:

1) What came first the logo or the name?
Most ready made brands are nothing more than a named logo. An image is created and a name is slapped onto it. Eg. ChikenEgg! or BatFish! Would any professional business really use a brand name like that?

2) Plagiarism
There have been numerous cases of ready-made logos being direct copies of existing logos or at the very least heavily inspired. Remember, a successful & effective logo/brand should be unique.

3) Longivity
Is the purchased brand name really right for you? There is a danger of being impressed by an image associated with a name, but does it represent your future values? What about in the future as the business grows?

So there you have it. Logos, brand identity, wedding cakes & doughnuts all in one article. As a disclaimer I respect bakers & doughnut makers worldwide and in no way respect the work that they do.



  1. 14/06/10
    5:32 pm
    Damn, well said. It's a pretty laughable practice that is all too common these days.
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