Is Your Logo Doing its Job? Part 3: Two Logo Stories

Clients of our studio often ask us to develop a new logo for their company’s identity and branding strategy, or to create a logo for an event, program or product.

When considering what is a good logo, here are some points to consider:

A good logo reaches its intended market or audience. When our studio develops a logo, we think about who’s going to see it. Will it convey the meaning we intended? Will all audiences respond in the same way? Let’s look at some examples:

mitsubishi1To most people, the Mitsubishi logo looks like a nice abstract design. To Japanese customers of this banking, trading and auto conglomerate, it’s a rebus: “mitsu” meaning “three” and “hishi” translated as “diamonds.” Shapes, images and colors can mean different things to different people in our diverse cultural landscape.

A good logo is original. Is there another design out there that looks too much like it? A logo design should be properly researched in the concept stage and protected through the services of an intellectual property attorney. The broadcast firm NBC learned this the hard way:

nbc_logo2In 1976, NBC retired the peacock and updated its visual identity to a stylized letter N, consisting of two trapezoids, at a cost of 6 million dollars. (Yikes, you might think. But this included implementing the logo throughout the operation, an expensive proposition.)

Within a month, NBC was sued by the tiny Nebraska Educational TV network for trademark infringement. The NETV logo was virtually identical. An out-of-court settlement was reached, where NBC was obliged to supply NETV with new equipment valued at over $800,000 in exchange for allowing NBC to retain use of the logo. NETV also got an additional $55,000 to cover the cost of designing and implementing a replacement logo. peacock1

That was a costly misadventure.

By 1979, the peacock was back on the job as the NBC identifier.

At left, the original NBC peacock logo (1956–1961) by designer John J. Graham.