We only need a logo…

We were asked to put together a proposal and costs to design a logo for a Tudor stately home. Our proposal was rejected immediately on receipt because we used the term ‘brand identity’. They didn’t want a ‘brand’, they just wanted a logo.

This raises the question: can any business, even one rooted in Tudor history, decide it doesn’t want a brand? By wanting a logo they are acknowledging that they need an identifier of some kind? If it wasn’t required to do anything more than signpost, why wasn’t just writing the name sufficient? Perhaps they thought that a ‘logo’ would be cheaper than a ‘brand’.

Every company and organisation – even individuals in some cases – have a brand, whether they choose to manage it or not.

The logo is the visual representation of the organisation – an identifier – and once used on a website, visitor leaflets, merchandise and signage it builds a bigger visual picture that further develops the perception and, dare I say it, builds the brand.

Businesses with a clear vision of what they are and what they want to be, who choose to manage how they are perceived through their visual branding, are the most likely to succeed and build a memorable, cohesive brand aligned to their vision and future ambitions.

A logo used without control and consistency and without considering the bigger picture, quickly becomes devalued and can, potentially, drag the rest of the organisation with it.

I hope they end up with a well thought through, appropriate logo that’s aligned to their future plans as well as being rooted in their Tudor history. You don’t have to use the word brand to create one but whatever label you put on it, without careful management you’ll probably end up wasting your groats.

When’s the right time for a new identity?

We’ve created new brand identities for many organisations over the past fifteen years and each of them had different reasons for commissioning a redesign.

The Queen’s Nursing Institute
In 2010 we launched the new Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) identity. QNI was established in 1887 by Royal Charter to train district nurses to treat the sick poor in their own homes. One of the reasons QNI cited for an identity overhaul was that the current logo was ‘dated’.

But how do you know if a logo is dated? Is the Boots logo dated? Is the CocaCola logo dated? Of course they are – they’re both virtually unchanged since they were conceived in the 19th century. But you can’t just throw away this heritage – the Coke script is one of the most recognisable logos on the planet, and stands for much more than just the tooth-rotting drink that it is.

However, QNI didn’t have this issue of being a globally recognised brand, so the decision to replace their ageing logo, which had evolved into a blue and orange hotchpotch of a VRI (Victoria Regina Imperatrix) crest, was a little more straightforward. That, and the fact that QNI’s ‘raison d’être’ has shifted over the years. They no longer train district nurses, but campaign for the improvement of nursing care of people in their own homes. The new QNI has a broader audience, from politicians to nurses and the general public and is very much focussed on the future of district nursing. It’s new identity needed to reflect this change.

We also had the issue of designing a system that could be easily implemented by an inexperienced in-house team at QNI. Here is the result, and the original logo.

QNI

The Combined Heat and Power Association
The brief to redesign the Combined Heat and Power Association’s (CHPA) new identity came about after this trade association had conducted extensive research amongst its members. This research highlighted that the existing, weak and poorly implemented, identity wasn’t helping CHPA promote itself and its members as forward thinking, dynamic, organisations.

Our job was to help present Combined Heat and Power as a relevant cutting edge technology and enable it to compete against ‘sexier’ renewable energy sources such as wind and wave power for government support. With their new identity, website and literature, CHPA had the tools to communicate the benefits of CHP to government and the general public. Here are the new and old logos. Don’t ask which one’s which.

CHPA

St Martin-in-the-Fields
It was a more physical change that was the catalyst for St Martin-in-the-Fields to change their identity. They had just come through a lengthy renovation and rebuilding exercise and decided that a new identity could help reflect the physical changes. They also felt a new look could help re-emphasise their core values of being vibrant, forward thinking, and at the heart of the community. They had a rather nice Brian Grimwood illustrated logo that they felt had run its course.

Again, this was an identity that was going to be implemented in-house, so it needed to be simple, with uncomplicated guidelines. Our solution was based on the story of St Martin and his ‘torn cloak’, an idea that communicated St Martins’ mission to support those whose lives may be similarly frayed. Here’s the new logo, and the original.

St Martin in-the-Fields