The Logo Ego

Have you noticed how some Graphic Designers break out into an anxious sweat when a new logo job comes in?

In most of the senior positions I've held, I've had to do my fair share of the business development work. This involves introducing new clients into the business and on-boarding my team.

I would be the one who comes into work after a meeting and say:

"Good news guys - We're going to be working with X!"

This is founded with a response that can only be described as 'general sounds of approval'. 

People are happy with new clients because they mean revenue and revenue means salaries get paid.

I get that.

At times I've even played a little game and I say:

"Good news guys, we will be rebranding X"

The response to this is a sound that I can equate to soft core porn set in a graphic design studio:

"Ooooooohhh."
"Pwoooaarrr!"

Then the jostling for position begins. This is when shit gets ugly.

It seems that some Graphic Designers think there is more money to be made, more prestige and more clout in redesigning a client's logo then there is in any other job a studio could do.

This is so far from the truth — it's hilarious.

Let's break it down.

Jostling for position

Don't jostle for position to do what you think are 'prestige projects'. 

Do the work. Just do the work. 

Take every brief that is in front of you and treat it like it's the last fucking brief you're ever going to work on. 

Provide value where others deem there is no value and you'll see yourself increase in value in no time.

Jostling for position will highlight your immaturity and lack of understanding of the professional context of the work you're involved in.

Prestige

If you think there is prestige in having a folio filled with logos you're selling yourself short. 

Actually, you're fucking delusional.
  
Most Designers think that doing 'branding jobs' will show that they were involved 'from the beginning' and had insight into the 'business problems' the client was facing.

Some even think that 'doing logos' was akin to 'doing strategy'.

No. Just no.

Designing a brand mark, visual language, logos and all that stuff is not strategy.

I'm sorry to break it to you but you aren't a 'Strategic Designer' or a more 'Senior Designer' if you're the one who designs the logo.

There is prestige in solving human problems. 

There is prestige and honour in humility and kindness — empathy for the people who faced the problems you solved.

There is prestige in working hard and providing value without expectation of anything in return.

There is prestige in being able to check your ego at the door and understand that these aren't just words and you actually have to check your fucking ego at the door.


Clout

Remember those times when all of our friends would be out on a Saturday night and you were at home working, reading or doing something else that was contributing to your hustle? 

Remember the feeling on Sunday/Monday morning when they would all talk about the club they went to, the boys/girls they met, the names they dropped?

No?

I do. 

It left me feeling like I should know things that I didn't know. It left me feeling like there was a world that I should belong to, yet I was home.  Working. Hustling.

I look back at those feelings now and I feel sorry for that kid who lacked the self-esteem and awareness to understand that what he was doing was winning.

If you're busy thinking about the next name you're going to drop you've lost. If you think you're going to impress someone because you did 'this logo' for 'that business' — you've lost.

Do you know what is truly impressive?

Value.
Hard work.
Self Awareness.
Humility.
Kindness.
Compassion.
Empathy.
Craft.
Execution.

Money and the branding perspective

You're not working on the highest paying jobs just because you're redesigning someone's logo.

You're not even 'rebranding' if all you're doing is flipping someone's logo.

In the journey of a rebrand project, the logo redesign (if it even happens) is a sliver of time. A tiny moment in time compared the the entire project.

In recent years, I've lead the following projects and I've added the length of the project compared to the length of time spent on redesigning the logo.

Here's some perspective for you:

Rebranding an international financial services business
Length of project: 2.5 years
Renaming: 8 weeks
Redesign of logo: 3 weeks

Rebranding a University
Length of project: 4 years
Redesign of logo: Didn't change

Rebranding a Bank
Length of project: 1.5 years
Redesign of logo: 6 weeks

Rebranding a Law firm
Length of project: 1 year
Redesign of logo: 3 weeks

Rebranding a national sporting association
Length of project: 6 months
Redesign of logo: 2 weeks

Rebranding a Federal Government Department
Length of project: 9 months
Redesign of logo: 3 weeks

What others do

At a recent breakfast with some friends, the discussion turned to a competitor. The three of us, well experienced in our careers, had little to no knowledge of what that business was up to. In fact, we didn't really care what they were doing.

The discussion quickly turned to another, more interesting subject. 

We celebrated their achievements and moved on.

Don't watch others and compare yourself to them — yes, there are benchmarks and aspirations we all look at and admire, but don't find yourself watching the person running the race next to you because you won't see the brick wall that is fast approaching.

Keep your eye on the finish line and run your own race.

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