Whenever I hear a major brand has redesigned its logo, my ears perk up. I’m excited to see the brilliance they’ve come up with, how they’ve kept the soul of the brand but put a new face to it. It’s a very difficult tightrope to walk, but often the results are beautiful.
And then there was Gap. They certainly had my attention as Bill Chandler, Gap’s VP of corporate communications, was quoted in a FastCoDesign.com article: “We love the design, but we’re open to other ideas and we want to move forward with the best logo possible.”
1. Ask why
As the owner of a design studio, it’s easy to get bored with our logo. I’m tempted to change it once a month, and I know that can often be the case with your ministry logo too. It’s a new year, you saw another logo that was really cool, the reasons can go on and on. But you have to step back and have a clear purpose behind the redesign. Do your research, look at your market, understand the why of the redesign.
When you’ve done that you can then do what Gap missed out on as marketing expert Joellyn Sargent points out, “Gap should have primed the pump, so to speak, by explaining why a new logo was in order, and how they arrived at the design.”
If you have a purpose behind the redesign people can get excited about it and you can have fun rolling it out.
2. Recognize the trust
Dr. Karen E. Mishra of Michigan State University points out, “They didn’t realize how much trust had been built in their brand because of their logo. The comments I have been reading about the old Gap logo are emotional—people had made an emotional connection with the Gap logo and I think the folks at Gap overlooked this.”
If you’ve been over to the Church Marketing Lab and looked at much of the critique when it comes to logo design you’ll see comments like “needs more personality,” “too generic” and “show people who you are.” Whether you’re developing a brand new logo or redesigning an old one, recognize that a logo is more than a pretty mark. It contains emotion and personality and as you build the brand, that emotion grows stronger and stronger (and if it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong). People begin to own that mark as much as you do. So don’t do things that void that trust such as what Dr. Mishra points to in Gap’s case of “not being open about the change, appearing incompetent, and also appearing to not care.”
3. Don’t fill in the gaps
It’s no secret that Gap is struggling in the highly competitive clothing market. Perhaps they were hoping putting together a new look would fix that. But as Mandy Minor, co-founder and president of J. Allan Studios, told us: “People want to believe that a new logo is going to fix problems, but the truth is that a logo is only as good as the company behind it.” Often people will point to Nike, Starbucks and Apple as great examples of logos and branding. The truth is they’re not really great logos at all, but great companies with a logo (and of course millions of advertising dollars).
The greatest logo in the world isn’t going to fix all your problems. In fact, such as the case at Gap, it may highlight some of them.
So before working on your church’s logo again, maybe you should work on your church.
4. Don’t jump on the bandwagon
In what I can only imagine was an attempt at damage control, Gap quickly jumped to crowdsourcing. How could that ever go wrong, it’s so popular? But because there wasn’t strategy behind the move, it only drew more criticism and showed the downsides of crowdsourcing and spec work.
The lesson here is to take the process seriously. Realize that though a great logo may look easy to develop, it’s much more than a few clicks of a mouse. Find someone you can trust and link arms with them in ministry.
Better Church Logos
If you’re struggling with your church’s logo, take heart that you’re not alone. It’s not easy, as Gap and even MySpace have recently proven. Sometimes logo refreshes go well and sometimes they don’t (check out these recent examples). Remember that your brand is more than a logo and get back to the basics of logo design.