The rules on punctuation in written sentences are pretty clear (though there are personal preferences on placement of commas and such). But when it comes to logos, those symbols and words meant to convey a brand image, the rules sail right out the window.
I was not aware of AOL’s change to “Aol.” until I read this article. I’d love to have been in the room when that momentous decision was made. Did they argue passionately over the capital “A” versus a lower-case one? Were there conference room fistfights over adding the period? Is this logo change a Band-Aid to repair their wounded brand image? If so, I don’t think it’s big enough. Here’s a YouTube video about it:
When there’s a period at the end of a logo, it seems to imply THIS product is the only one that matters. The only one you need. If that’s the idea, AOL should be jailed for felonious period abuse. AOL is the one ISP you definitely do not need. Having had infuriating set-tos with various “customer service” people at AOL for years (The Early Years), I’d be giddy with joy if the period meant the end of AOL, or aol. Which, if I wanted to be snarky, I’d say should be “Ahol.” But no. I’m moving on.
When you insert any punctuation into a logo, you’re taking a risk that either (a) it will look dumb; or (b) will be taken ironically. For instance, an exclamation point, that poor, overworked symbol meant to convey excitement, can either be fun, sad, or baffling, depending on the company. Just imagine the logo, “M!crosoft.”
Choosing a logo is a serious matter, because if it’s emblazoned on your stationery, business cards, store sign, advertising and everything else, it’s going to cost a fortune to change. You’ll notice that when established companies update their logos, they only futz with it a little. They’ll change the hue slightly, add a swash or take it away, something like that. Nothing that might shock or confuse loyal customers.People like, or at least get used to, the logo of a company they patronize. Changing it radically could have the effect of snatching away the sweet little brown teddy bear your child clings to at bedtime and substituting a snarling grizzly bear plush critter. “Yaaaagh! Where’s my teddy?!” (Note proper use of exclamation point.)
I must confess that the reason I don’t have a logo is that I can’t figure out what it might be. When I was identifying myself with my company, LizardPro Creative, Inc., it was pretty easy to design a logo for my stationery and biz cards. Oh, I changed the style of the lizard about seven times, but there was no parakeet or roach or any other animal. But “Liz Craig, Writer?” I got some business cards that have a pen and paper, but even that isn’t right, because I’ve been using a computer for so long, I can hardly write legibly anymore. But enough about me.
If you want a good designer to create a strong, timeless logo, you can expect to pay more than those “Your logo for $50!!!” (Note incorrect use of exclamation points.) guys who advertise in Google AdWords. Sure, even I could give you some kind of a logo for $50, but what would it look like? If you don’t care, there’s even a website where you can glom one of their prefab logos for cheap and stick it on your company name. If your company is called Bland & Meaningless, Inc., I suppose one of those would do.
Looking at an exquisitely simple logo, you might think, “Why, my teenaged kid could have done that in three seconds.” Well, so did the designer. But that was after days and weeks of gathering information, discussing it with the client, trying different colors, styles and layouts. So the cost of a great logo is not all for that final splat on paper. It’s for the think time, and the experience, sensitivity, taste, judgment and skill of the designer.
Okay, someone’s going to bring up the Nike “swoosh.” Folklore has it that a Portland art student quickly whipped out the swash in a moment of inspiration. And “Just do it” was an offhand comment the founder heard. That’s swell. But the brilliant part is that someone recognized the swash as a timeless symbol, and “Just do it” as an elegantly simple statement that expressed the heart and soul of Nike. (See true history of the “swoosh.”) That hardly ever happens. More times than not, a client will want the designer to crank out dozens or hundreds of “ideas” to choose from, when the best one by far obviously was in the first six presented. The same applies to taglines, by the way. Hence, the high cost of logos (and taglines). Design and writing hours cost money.
So what do you think of the punctuation in and style of some of the logos in the article I linked above? Send your thoughts, and suggest a logo or two you really like or hate.