Why Great Logo Design Is Only As Good As The Story Behind It

When it comes to your brand identity, don’t settle for a half-baked narrative.

Blank stare or look of excitement: If someone asks you about the story behind your logo, how would you respond?

When it comes to brand identity, logos usually get most of the attention. But for me, it’s always about uncovering what is represented by each and every aspect of the graphic or "wordmark" (a designed text-only typographic treatment of a name). There’s just something about hearing firsthand from a designer or business owner as they beam with pride like an old-world craftsman.

One of the best things about working with a rock star branding agency or creative designer is that attention to detail—every color, every line, and every design element all have a clearly defined purpose. It's something they are able to articulate so you’re able to understand how your logo is able to capture the essence of your business, your brand values, and your brand identity.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Some designers will just create dozens of designs and leave it up to the client to figure out which one they like and why. Without that background texture, there’s a good chance they’ll never be able to fully appreciate or take pride in their logo. And that’s a real missed opportunity.

That unmistakable sense of pride is something I saw from Sound Opinions, the world’s only rock 'n' roll talk show, when I asked them about their new logo via Twitter. Within seconds, they responded asking me what I thought about their new look. Curious about the story behind the design, I wanted to learn more. They immediately pointed me to Someoddpilot, Inc., the Chicago-based branding agency they used for the project, and that’s where I had a chance to take a peek under the hood.

In just two short paragraphs, they were able to provide background on the show and define their brand, one that "exudes a smart, trustworthy, down-to-earth energy that encourages the audience to get involved." They also set the stage for the next evolution of the brand and their logo which they believe represents "a cleaner, crisper rendering of the brand’s mission: to broadcast expert knowledge, foster educated discourse, and fan the flame of musical passion that resides in each listener."

When it comes to your brand identity, don’t settle. Before hiring a branding agency or designer to create a new logo, don’t just fixate on a graphic or wordmark. Make sure they’re also able to help you clearly articulate the details behind the design. That’s where the real magic happens. If not, there’s a good chance you’ll wind up with a logo that only captures half of the story.

[Image: Flickr user Iris]

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  • Brad Emmons

    What's with all the hate here? A proper identity design provides the benchmark for which all other related tactics and stories can or should be told. Having an identity crisis? More than likely, you lack cohesion throughout your whole business.

  • Stephen Heard

    I think this is the exact opposite of what makes a good logo. You should look at a logo and just "get it". It should explain itself. No story necessary.

  • StarkComm

    "exudes a smart, trustworthy, down-to-earth energy that encourages the audience to get involved" sounds more like generic drivel rather than a story behind a brand. Paid article? 

  • Shawn

    Thanks for the comment. Not at all. There's more to the story, which you can find on their site. Some businesses would be lucky if they even had generic drivel--far too often their brand identity lacks any texture or explanation at all. Wouldn't you agree?

  • Geraldo Bock

    The "exudes a smart, trustworthy, down-to-earth energy that encourages the audience to get involved" BS is just as generic as the logo. Its just a bunch of intangible ideas that definitely didn't translate into the new logo. For an article about "WHY GREAT LOGO DESIGN IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE STORY BEHIND IT", this is a very lame case to display. With all due respect, people should write articles about things they know...

  • Shawn

    Thanks for the comment, Geraldo. All too often, I find businesses aren't able to articulate the story behind their brand identity at all (including their logos). 

    What was interesting about Sound Opinions was 1) the organization actually knew there was a story and 2) the creative team provided background and texture.

    Sound Opinions found a logo and story they were happy with and one I'm sure will resonate with their audience. 

  • Sarah Jocson

    It can tell how the company climbed mountains to reach the peak of success.
    Promote your brand in  good tactics.

  • Shawn

    Thanks, Sarah. Using your logo design to capture the story behind your business, your brand, and your success is definitely a solid tactic.