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John Lepp

Waterdown, ON, Canada

Designer (Graphic Design)

Member since January 27, 2009

  • Tweaking your logo?

    Communication, Communication Design

    I saw something this past week that I found quite unsettling and I’m still not sure how I can make sure it never happens again.

    I am working with a new client developing some direct mail packs for them. About eight years ago I designed this clients logo on a pro bono assignment through the agency I was working with at the time. Last time I noticed, they were still using the same logo.

    In the midst of package development, the client sent over the “new” versions of their logos. The colour had been changed to a lighter blue and a light green (the original was a dark blue). In my books, that was no-no number one for reasons I’ve outlined before.

    They also revised the bilingual logo to create an English only version - and by removing the French completely changed the meaning of the logo. Now the logo didn’t mean anything. It looked like some random elements thrown together.

    Needless to say, I wasn’t terribly amused. But what can I do? In this situation I was a little more lucky because I now had a new contact with the client and the opportunity to “fix it” - but what about other cases?

    I know that some charities can have massive turnovers. I know that often they have no idea where the logo came from or who did it, or even why it was developed as it was.

    As a designer, if a client calls and asks me to change/tweak their logo - I tend think “no way”. In the commercial world, it is total taboo to mess with another designers logo.

    But in our sector- it seems to be ok, acceptable - expected.

    When I design a new logo for a client - I give them every variation that makes sense (2 colour, 1 colour, Black only and reverse out white options) and as well provide them with the common formats (.eps, .jpg, .tif) saved for the Mac and for PC users and tell them - put these in a SAFE place. I also make sure my name, contact info and font and colour information is included in the digital file.

    That’s all I can do. I’ve come to accept that when I release the logo to client - it is no longer mine and people can change it at will.

    But, how can I protect against this sort of thing in the future?

  • I would suggest including basic brand guidelines as well as a rationale for even a simple logo, as a standard process for logo development and within your master logos supply. That way, even if the logo or brand has an abstract meaning, it can be explained and understood by viewers and HOPEFULLY the importance of brand consistency can enforced.

    In saying this, I see your point that it is truly up to the individual business/company or even department to make sure that the brand is not eroded by someone who simply needs to use it but lacks an available EPS or even the knowledge to not change it. Maybe upload the brand guidelines to "Brands of the world" website for the public to have access to the brand guidelines if needed

    Depending on how the logo development was "sold" to the client initially, it may be within the rights of the original agency to make comment and uphold the brand guidelines as a term of the 'license' from which is was sold. E.g. by the client misusing the brand, it may breach the 'license' of use therefore creating a negative reputation for the designer if the design is associated with the design agency (I assume that the copyright will not remain with you as a designer because you were employed by the agency and usually they get you to sign a contract that says that anything you design is the copyright of the agency. It all depends.)

    So as annoying as it all is - I would say (although this doesn't help the emotional connection with design and design responsibility):

    Push on and move on to greener pastures. Sometimes people won't see the same value in design and they will erode the brand. You can set the standards and try to educate your clients but really if at that point they still do not listen or care – you have to weigh up how much time and energy you will spend and maybe your design skill and education will be much better utilitised telling someone who is more open minded. There's plenty to do in the world for design and with one that won't listen, they'll be one that will.

    Those who don't see the value of design will learn eventually by the success of those that do.

  • Redesigning familiar corporate logos can be disturbing to customers who have established a certain comfort level with the old logo.

    Owners of established businesses who are considering changing their logo should weigh the potential negative impact that such a switch could have on existing clients/customers.

    As a designer, I agree that a logo "must stand the test of time."

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Making a difference through design.

Contact John Lepp
Idea Design

My Interests

  • Industrial Design
  • Environmental Design
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Audio/Visual Design