Monday, April 6, 2009

What's In a Logo

Recently Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) changed its logo in conjunction with its 25 anniversary. I read it somewhere that the logo has been changed. As I had wanted to talk about Logo for sometime, I became curious and wanted to know what the new logo would be like.

So, I googled "SPH new logo" and it brought me to an article with the logo that looks like double 'S' initial which I know to be the existing logo. Then I read the another article with the new logo with the 'SPH' initial. That was on 1 Apr 09 and I thought it was a Straits Times' April Fool joke because the old one look like new and the new one look like old. I was rather puzzled and confused - I wasn't sure which was the new logo. So I then visit SPH website that shows the new Logo. Pardon me SPH, but somehow I found the new logo to be a step backward. The old logo looks more elegant and forward looking and being slant, it has a subliminal hint of motion. In my view, SPH could have just modified the existing logo unless they thought it needed a complete overhaul.

In my personal view, logo should as far as possible, not be changed completely. After all, it takes years and much publicity efforts , not to mention the amount of money spent, to build up that image in the minds of people. Logo is synonymous with the entity's image, first impression, brand, professionalism, products and services. Logo should be simple yet stylish, professional looking and futuristic or evergreen. Just take a look at famous logos such as Mercedes Benz, Roll Royce, MacDonald, coca cola, Pepsi, Nike, Adidas, Fed Ex, Puma, just to name a few. These Logos are immediately recognisable.

Did you know that when Phil Knight started Nike, he was hoping to find a mark as recognizable as the Adidas stripes, which also provided reinforcement to the shoe. He hired a young student (Carolyn Davidson) to design his logo, paying her $35 for what has become one of the best known marks in the world (she was later compensated again by the company).

Some good local logos are DBS, UOB, SIA, just to name a handful few. Some years ago, the Straits Times wrote an article about logo and undoubtedly pick DBS UOB SIA as one of the best designed logos in Singapore. I fully agree with it. However, I was quite taken aback that Singapore Petroleum Company (SPC) , no relation to SPH, was one of the best designed Logos. In my personal views, SPC's logo is so complex, aggressive and amateurish looking. I think if SPC wants to compete with the big boys like Shell, Esso or Caltex, I think they should go for a complete overhaul to re-brand itself.

Even if Logos are well designed, companies or entities should sometimes look at how their logos can be improved. Its just like fashion or hairstyle - it may look good today but not tomorrow. DBS, SIA, UOB and OCBC spent hundreds of thousand of dollars just to improve their looks by making their existing logos more stylish, streamlined and forward looking not forgetting the hundreds of thousand of dollars in the publicity campaign to publicise their new looks. OCBC changed its 'Old Chinese Junk' to the 'Modern Chinese Junk'. But these moneys are necessary and well spent.

Logo is all about image. Some years ago, I was looking to buy a car within my budget or rather the amount I wanted to spend. I test drove two 1.3cc cars, one a Hyundai and the other a Proton Saga. At that time, Hyundai was building up its image whilst Proton was new in the market but the technology was Japanese. Design wise, both were equally good but I didn't like the interiors of Proton. Proton's salesperson, a lady, was aggressive and followed up with me on a least 2 occasions as a good salesperson should. In the end, I chose Hyundai although it cost a couple of thousand more. The Proton salesperson asked me why I chose Hyundai and not Proton. I told her "Hyundai's Logo looks modern and progressive whereas yours doesn't look that way". She looked stunned and lost for words. Actually, I like her as a salesperson and would very much like to give the business to her. I swear I could almost heard her say " I am selling the wrong car". Anyway, some months later, Proton changed its logo from something that looked like a yellow star shaped object to a more progressive eagle themed logo. I was wondering whether it was my feedback that brought about the change.

Perhaps the best way to decide whether Logos are good ones is through the table games that we sometimes played during dinner and dance gatherings where the DJ will request you to identify the Logos of the given organisations or draw the logo of the given organisations. Everybody know how to draw UOB, its simple and unique with the 4 vertical strokes and 1 horizontal stroke across the middle which stand for "United We Stand". Can you recognise or draw them? So which is the best logo? I will leave it to you. Its just my personal thoughts and views. Oh, by the way, I am still driving a Hyundai.

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