"Opinions are like…"
We all know the rest of the quote, most often attributed to Clint Eastwood's "Dirty Harry."
Conceptualizing and designing corporate marks (logos) is the favorite part of my profession. Seeing a finished product on a package, vehicle or the side of a building is undoubtedly an explosive boost to the ego!
However, in many cases, the logo design process brings to light another Clint Eastwood film, "The Gauntlet" (1977). Near the conclusion of that thriller, Clint and female lead Sondra Locke drive a metro bus to city hall as hundreds of police officers, fire round after round into the vehicle as they attempt to stop the pair from upending a corrupt police department.
There are times during the corporate mark development process when it feels as though design concepts have been "Swiss-Cheesed" like Clint's bus. The same bright ideas that enter a meeting leave smoking and riddled with holes.
Why does this happen?
Graphic Design is a very subjective business. Unlike accounting, where 2+2 always equals 4, my profession allows plenty of leeway for discussion and debate. The key to any successful corporate mark project is backing up your work with intellectual justification and keeping the wolves at bay.
Here are a few more observations:
- A client committee of 2-4 individuals (confident in their skin) and with "final say" is optimal.
- Do not include color within your initial concepts. Color is a variable that can quickly send the bus careening over the cliff. (By the way, I have found that green is the most difficult color to sell.)
- "We should hang the concepts in the cafeteria and let people vote." Squash this thought like a cockroach and should this idea persist, calmly pack up your gear and exit.
- Graphic Designers are not fine artists. Our work is not about our personal feelings or an internal issue that we are attempting to resolve. Our job is to remain focused on solving the business situation at hand.
- Likewise, from the client side, no one wants to hear how the design reminds them of a moth that ate their favorite argyle sweater in third grade and how they have never gotten over it.
- Because we live in a very polarized society fueled by social media, slinging arrows of hatred has become an accepted means of communication. As Bing Crosby often crooned, "Accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative."
- The best corporate mark projects have a tight and unmovable deadline. Too much time and the devil's workshop is open 24x7 for both designer and client. Without time parameters, these types of projects can go on indefinitely. (Trust me.)
- A healthy, constructive, and collaborative effort will provide both sides of the conference room table with that desired ego burst as the final result is proudly displayed.
"There are two kinds of people in this world. 'I' people and 'we' people. I've always tried to be a 'we' person." –Clint Eastwood
Thanks, Clint! – Doug.