File under: Knowledge Drop, Logo, Naming

It’s Never Love At First Sight

Let’s set the stage…

It’s twelve o’clock on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. You’re anxious yet giddy. Today is the day; the day you’ll see your new name or logo. You expect fireworks, flames, and passion. And then it happens; the big reveal. You are…underwhelmed and potentially heartbroken. Your expectations shattered. Confidence shaken. Dreams crushed. And a little hungry for some Taco Bell.

You ask yourself, “What went wrong?”

It’s Not Your Fault…Kinda

Let’s be perfectly clear – it’s totally natural to be excited and to dream of how awesome the future is. Someone smarter than us could provide a perfectly good reason why we humans dream about the future. Maybe it has to do with dreaming of a better life when we were scavenging on the savannah thousands of years ago? Who knows? Either way let’s face the fact: I dream. You dream. We all dream. And that’s perfectly okay. The problem is that dreams carry a lot of baggage.

With Dreams Come Expectations

You’ve been dreaming and thinking, “I wonder what colors they’ll choose? I hope it’s not green. I hate green. My aunt Tilly used to wear this ugly green sweater at Christmas and it was gross and…oh…I hope they go with something minimal. Yeah, something minimal. Minimal. Yeah. I like minimal. Man that guy is driving like an a-hole…but yes something minimal. Perhaps something that will look awesome on a big sign. Yeah! I can see it now! Big and beautiful and…man I hope that guy dies in a fiery crash.”

Again, this is something that is bound to happen and is totally natural. Even the part where you want someone to die in a fiery crash! Although of course we don’t really want that to happen – except sometimes.

With Expectations Come Disappointment

Up until this point you have dreamed, wished, hoped, and hopefully satisfied that Taco Bell craving. You have built up this narrative in your head of what you’ll see and how much you’ll love it. In reality, what ends up happening is that you don’t see what you thought you’d see and as a result you don’t fall head over heels like you thought you would.

The fact of the matter is that no one can satisfy your dreams and expectations. Not even you!

It’s not that you’ll hate your names or logo; it’s just that you won’t love them at first. Rather you’ll grow to love them and that takes time. Why? Because that’s how how logos and names work. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s what we’ll talk about next! Aren’t we clever ?

How Logos & Names Work

The fundamental problem is that the creation and presentation of names and logos is just so artificial. The whole process of name and logo selection doesn’t take place in the “real world” with your real customers and users.

In The Real World

Just think about the way you encounter names and logos. Did anyone every ask you, “What do you think of the name Apple? Pretty dumb name for a computer company right?” Nope. Not once. What about, “What do you think of this logo? It’s too pointy right?” Again, not once. Not ever.

We simply walk around the world absorbed in our own stories and we are just exposed to names and logos. They are just part of our atmosphere. Rarely do common folk talk about names and logos. That’s just not how names and logos work and behave in the real world. Names and logos just sort of happen to be there.

You have to be aware how artificial name and logo selection is.

Names & Logos Work Through Familiarity

Take the name Taco Bell. Noticed how I mentioned it a few times and you didn’t bat an eye? I mean, it’s kind of a dumb name right? Is the name supposed to reference a taco that’s shaped like a bell? Or maybe a bell made out of taco shells? Or maybe because it’s named after its founder Glenn Bell? It’s the last one if you didn’t catch on.

Say it again. Taco. Bell. Taco Bell.

But no one ever thinks about it  like that. People just go there, eat their food, and go home.

Taco Bell probably sounded a little strange the first time you heard it. The reason that name doesn’t sound strange or unusual is because how familiar it is. We hear, and see it, all of the time. I’m typing this while watching a football game and have already seen a few ads for Taco Bell’s new Extra-Crunchy-Wraparino or whatever word mash it’s called.

Names and logos work through familiarity and repetition – they work by being consistently used over and over again.

Case Study – Chase

In the late 1950s Chase National Bank merged with the Bank of the Manhattan Company to create Chase Manhattan Bank. This merger made Chase the second largest bank in the world with one of the worst logos in the world as well. The company name written across America told you how national they were with an image of the world awkwardly positioned somewhere over Montana. And in case you didn’t get it, they added, “World Wide Banking.”

The famed identity studio Chermayeff & Geismar was tasked with providing the new identity which was no small feat. What represented banking? A coin? A bag of money? Instead of going for a straight representative symbol of banking they went the opposite route – they choose something totally off the wall and abstract.

Everyone hated it. They said things like, “It’s just not us. It doesn’t represent banking. It doesn’t mean anything.” The funny thing is that they were right.

The abstract symbol didn’t represent them and it definitely didn’t mean anything at the time of the initial presentation. What the designers knew however is that over time it would come to represent Chase and banking. The fact that the logo hasn’t changed since 1960 is a testament to the fact that the designers were right.

The abstract logo ended up being accepted because one of the Rockefellers was on the board and loved it. Months later Chermayeff & Geismar went back to the Chase headquarters to check on how things were going and the very same people who originally hated the logo were now wearing cufflinks, ties, hats, and probably even underwear with the logo on it. It just goes to show you that even for the big guys it’s never love at first sight.

Care About What Works

There is sort of a larger question underlying this whole idea of loving your name or logo. And that question is why you expect to love your logo or name in the first place.

It may sound kind of lame but we don’t really care what you love or hate and neither should you. Instead, you should care about what works.

Save The Fairytale Endings For Disney

So let go of the idea that you’ll fall immediately in love with your new logo or name. That’s just not how the world works.

You may not love your name or logo at first, but that’s just part of the process. But we promise you’ll not only come to love your name or logo, but you’ll want to marry it as well. Just don’t tell your husband or wife. 

Stevie LeValley

Art Director

I'm a color blind art director. Who would have thunk it?

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