As a writer, I have a tendency to become involved in the graphic design procedure only peripherally, but I manage to find out useful lessons from it.
I’m fascinated with the process of logo design - not the amateurish effort of slapping clip art together, but also the thinking and execution a specialist brings to shooting the vision of a company at a delightfully simple art element. I have observed the process many times and noticed designers get many fascinating requests from their customers.
The most memorable came from the manager of a company that made tow trucks. Then he talked.
“I really don’t give a (bleep) what the (bleeping) logo resembles,” he explained. “All I care is that someone going the other way about the (bleeping) Interstate at 70 miles an hour is able to see that the (bleeping) item and know it’s my (bleeping) truck.”
Folksy? Perhaps. Crude? Definitely. But noise? Absolutely. He knew that it was crucial that other tow-truck operators knew that they left that good-looking truck. Professional Logos ’s a business where look is every bit as important as function, and his opponents would include any touch that may give them an edge. (Like me, you probably don’t swoon over tow trucksbut I can remember standing at”tow displays” and hearing,“Now, that is a real pretty truck” Fashion models would have been overlooked among the polished chrome.)
It’s all too easy for those of us who work in the services industry to lose sight of this fact that our work exists primarily to create business for our clients. After all, we have great pride in blending our talents and what we’ve learned to think of work which makes us proud and our coworkers. Most advertising and graphic design award shows promote that attention by rewarding fashion, rather than substance.
We sometimes forget that logos, headlines, and other elements of marketing communications need to be seen to be effective. It is great if we could accomplish that and also make them visually attractive at precisely the same time. However, the most intrinsically beautiful design will fall flat if people can’t tell exactly what it is or that it is supposed to spot, and also the most award-winning advertising concept will be a humiliating failure in case it fails to induce sales or match the client’s other expectations.
The best clients for whom I have worked have given me a great deal of freedom and trusted that my recommendations were sound and sensible. However, with that freedom and trust arrived an understanding that I’d be held accountable for results, too.