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First were symbols…

Man needs identity — a symbol for recognition. This identity mongering had started well before any systematic written language evolved. The significance of this identity crisis can be seen vividly in primitive societies when they were indulged in fights among themselves to show dominance.

Wars were waged; battles were won and lost; strategies were changed and alliances were made and broken. But in this entire turmoil, one thing stayed intact: that is the identity – the Logo. The name ‘logo’ may seem to have come into existence only in recent years but in fact, it has been with us all along with the annals of human history.

Then came engravings…

A headman of a small primitive community or an emperor of a great civilization needed some sort of symbol to make a profound impression on his subjects. Therefore, the symbol should be so grand, so different and so fearsome in some cases, that the subjects would hold it in veneration, either out of wonderment or out of fear. A particular individual of importance could not be everywhere all the time but his symbol could when it was engraved in stone, wood, metal, or dyed on cloth. It would stay there for all to see it and to pledge alliances.

Next came the torch…

The torch, from the crude one made out of reeds to a well-crafted brass or even gold, like the one we use now for the Olympic Sports Inauguration, could be considered the first of such symbols. As primitive societies feared fire, the one who could hold fire in his hands was the one who could dominate the Earth.

We do venerate the torch even to this day. The huge elegant Statue of Liberty at the entrance from the sea to the Big Apple holds the torch high with pride. The Hollywood motion pictures giant “Columbia Pictures” proudly presents its Lady with a shining torch held high.

Then the flag…

Then came a more convenient and practical way of representing one’s identity – The Flag. The brightly colored pennants were used to represent each group when several groups met. Isn’t the pennant used in these days in more subtle activities like sports? The flag of a community or a country or a religion or a social organization is always held high with pride and dignity. Desecrating the flag is a sin in religion and a serious offense in politics.

The flag, like the torch, was found to be a little cumbersome to carry about all the time, particularly indoors. The flag had to be flown high on the top a tall structure for everyone to see and marvel.

Then came the Coat of Arms…

What about the identity of the importance of a position when the Heads of groups got together? The answer could be a smaller flag, a replica of the original, pinned on to the shoulders or lapels of the coats of the dignitaries! And there the coat-of-arms made its entry.

As the symbols of representation carried one’s status, stature and wealth, they got to be rich in looks, clear in expressing the position of the bearer, and more importantly, they should not be the same in appearance as those of the other bearers. It wasn’t for nothing that the craftsmen who designed them were held in great respect and were paid handsomely.

Ancient Tattooing…

‘Branding’ is also not a new entrant. Long ago, the primitive communities, realizing that a scar on the skin stayed longer and clearer than any dye marks, used to cut some marks on the faces or hands of the persons of importance such as a headman, a chieftain or a warrior for home decoration logos purpose and easy identification. And that legacy is still continued in some clans in some remote parts of the world to this day.

Later when it was realized that cutting marks on the skin involved a lot of bleeding and infection which in turn put the dignitary in danger of bleeding to death, or the infection eating away the tender skin and muscle changed the shape of the symbol, the craftsmen responsible for carrying out this task looked for some other ways and struck upon the idea of burning the skin as there was no bleeding and the infection was minimal. So the new method of making marks by burning – the branding – had stayed on human dignitaries for quite some time before a more convenient method of marking on the skin by making small holes in the skin with sharp needles and filling the holes with logo design colors in liquid form – the tattooing – made its way into human life. The tattooing was found to be less painful and no question of bleeding or infection. So the newer designing method caught up and has stayed on to this day. And the branding has stayed on, too.

From the people of importance in the highest rung of the society, branding fell on the people in the lowest rung, the hardcore criminals and slaves. These miserable people were given a permanent scar in a particular shape on the forehead or cheek for easy identification.

Eventually, this technical innovation found its way into the animal world. When faced with the problem of identification of horses belonging to a Lord, the farriers and grooms hit upon the idea of branding. Lesser people also started using this simple but permanent way of giving identification marks on their cattle to save them from rustling and from getting mixed up with others’.

Modern Branding…

Gradually, this phenomenon of branding has made its presence felt in the Trade World, and the goods produced are to be marked with the details of ownership. But not all goods are suitable for branding with a ‘branding iron’. So, engraving, embossing, and painting with bright colors have come into use in the world of merchandise. And the new word for branding – logo design – has been held in veneration.

Evidently, when it comes to logo designing, we need to think of the importance of a craftsman, the LOGO DESIGN TEAM in the present business world, who is worth the high status of our business.

SpellBrand is one of a few logo designers that understand the legacy of branding and brand names! And a client can rest assured that unique design for their product in on the anvil once the deal is struck with them.

Drawing a parallel

Entrepreneur in the role of a consumer…

Life is a struggle, and it is embedded in our genes. The struggle for existence or survival had been realized long before Charles Darwin came up with his famous theory.

This struggle for survival is expressed in several different ways: changing food habits, devising better locomotive systems, developing immunity to sustain the oddities of the surroundings, emigrating to new or more suitable habitats, etc. And in adapting to any one or some of the tactics, one thing is common for all — fighting for survival. Charles Darwin’s theory of ‘Survival of the Fittest’!

‘War’ has an appealing meaning in this context and it covers the larger fights.

Humans, like any other living creature, have been involved in wars to grab new fertile lands, to force competition out of their way, or just to show-off their power since ages.

No other aspect of human life can demonstrate more vividly the importance of ‘the mark of identification’ than the wars.

Before the war was waged, the Monarch sent his scouts to get an appraisal of the land he had planned to annex. The spies were then strategically infiltrated into the very way of life of his enemy. The citizens’ feelings, economic stability, and more importantly, the strength of the enemy’s armed forces were all observed, and the information was sent back to the Monarch.

With the information on hand, the Monarch, along with his council of ministers, the guardians of coffers and the generals and commanders of his armed forces, weighed the pros and cons of waging a war. If the outcome was not in his favor, the venture was dropped and new territories were explored, but if the benefits were tantalizingly attractive, then a war strategy was drawn.

The Monarch summoned the commanders of all his legions and a war council meeting was called in for. It was here that the need for identification was felt very strongly. The princes and the war-lords of smaller dominions joined together to show their loyalty to the Monarch, and their presence must be noticed by the Monarch and the others. Consequently, the identity crisis brewed. To straighten out the differences, each one of the Heads came up with a distinct coat-of-arms, a colorful flag or pennant, and a special head-dress or a shield with an attractive or terrifying picture on it.

It was more practical to have this system of identification when once the troops of the different legions, the warriors of the war-lords and the knights of the Kings and lords were out on the battlefield. On the vast open lands of the battlefield, with very crude means of communication, only bugles and drums during day fights and torches at night fights, the flag with a specific bright color and distinct sign or mark on it proved invaluable to the commanders who positioned themselves at a less conspicuous place on the field, and passed orders to every one of the legions.

The flag-bearer or the standard-bearer had been entrusted with the responsibility of keeping the flag and the sign high at any cost. The sign and bearer of the sign were as crucial, even more at times, as the actual soldiers who fought with a sword, bows, and arrows or a spear.

The foot-soldiers were trained to follow the sign and the sign-bearer because the flag and sign on it guided them in the right direction in that conundrum of the battlefield.

The act of flying one’s flag on the enemy’s flagpole and keeping one’s emblem, the official symbol of the Monarch, on the throne and the entrance of the palace concluded the victory.

When you saw your own flags fluttering, and the coat-of-arms of your allies milling about, you knew that the war was won even before an announcement by word of mouth or a written decree was issued officially.

In the naval forces of the ancient civilizations or the present day superpowers, no battleship ever left the port without the flag and the distinct mark of the port of origin. It has been mandatory for all the ships, battle or cargo, to fly the flag with a clear mark high on the main mast. Why even the pirates ethically flew their flags with their own LOGO – the skull and cross-swords in white on a black background!

Role of Logo Design in Trade

Likewise, one can see striking similarities between the world of corporate business now and the world of wars of yesteryear.

Bringing a product out on to the market is no less strenuous than waging a war. To show dominance in the business world needs the same old strategies applied in wars; to keep a product live on the market demands utmost concentration and effort on the part of the entire company the product is made from.

Before a product goes on the production line, the Boss of the company, like the Monarch, sends his market analysts to appraise the market he is going to enter into. If the study report from them being favorable, he then sends his ‘feelers’ to study the information in the report more thoroughly. Like the spies of the Monarch, these ‘feelers’ (different companies give different names to these ‘feelers’), the finance experts and the legal advisers go into details, even to the extent of penetrating into the dealings of an already existing company. And the Boss calls for a series of meetings with his board of directors, the marketing experts, the technicians, and the executives. After weighing the pros and cons, comparing the study reports made by the experts and considering the risks and legalities involved, a production strategy is drawn if the venture sounds profitable.

Here, too, the Boss must consider the conditions and the concurrence of the board of directors and the financing companies he is going to tie-up with, just like the Monarch did with his legions and loyal war-lords.

Then comes the most crucial time for the Boss because this is the time a name and a special sign to represent the product are to be brought out to the limelight. The actual production of an item is within the grasp of the Boss and the production unit and its executives. But producing an item is only a small part of a very long complicated process of making profits. Marketing that item, that is to say, taking the item to the consumers and luring them into buying it demands the highest level of business acumen the entire company can muster.

Role of a logo design in Publicity

So, enters a new unit called publicity unit or promoting unit. And in this unit the name which later becomes brand-name and the special mark or sign which later becomes the logo take their shape. And this could be the most crucial, and yet the most enjoyable phase in the history of the future profit-making product.

Therefore, the publicity or promoting unit will be in a real tizzy until every one of the souls involved in the venture is thoroughly satisfied with the christening of the ‘new-born baby’ and the zodiac sign allotted to it. And here, two experts must shoulder the responsibility entirely on their own: one expert is the logo designer and the other is the COPYWRITER.

The name, the color of the sign and wrappings must be distinct and eye-catching, like the standard (flag) in the battlefield. They must be seen clearly by the ever-busy consumers who are engrossed in the chores of the modern rat-race life, just like the foot-soldiers who were clinging to their dear lives amidst the enemy swords and spears.

As the product is the brain-child of the Boss, the Boss himself must playact the role of a potential consumer and must look at his product form the eyes of a million suspicious but potential buyers.

Though the plans are drawn and designs are made in the board-rooms and workshops, the actual sale of the product is done in markets. A consumer, preoccupied and probably myopic, wades into a super-hyper-mega market and finds herself in a maze of rows of display units and shelves stuffed with different products from floor to ceiling. She has to choose an item, pay for it waiting her turn in a never-ending line of other buyers and drive away in a jiffy. Within this short period of time, the product must catch the eye of the consumer in such a way that she gets attracted to it.

A consumer is hooked up to a new product only after buying it and using it for a while. But the toughest part of any business is to get her to buy it.

This is exactly the situation where one needs a true visionary, not just an expert. The visionary is the Boss in the first place and immediately placing themselves are the LOGO DESIGNER and the COPYWRITER. The logo must be like a magnet attracting pieces of metal. The publicity or promotion stunts made earlier definitely pay off here. But how many consumers remember the ads they watch on TV when they are actually buying things in a market? There is cut-throat competition and the organizers of the market place are ever short of space! Your product may not find a place on the shelves where you really want it to be. And don’t forget the numerous distractions a consumer is faced with: the reduction in prices of already existing products, the free-gift offers, the worthless but tempting packages, and above all, the direct approach by the young sales-persons who literally thrust their products upon you.

A consumer has to withstand all these ordeals and make the best buy.

The Boss must take all these insignificant, they might seem, but hardly indispensable aspects a consumer is subjected to into consideration and come up with a cost-effective strategy that includes ‘exposing the logo’.

When there is so much at stake in bringing out a product on to the shelves of a market place, what one needs is an establishment of designing that knows the drill very well. And at SpellBrand a client is regarded not as a potential payer but a million beleaguered, suspicious and hard-pressed-for-time buyers of the LOGO they are creating. Given time and clarity in specifications, the SpellBrand creates not just an attractive logo but a legendary one!

The craftsman turned logo designer

A Logo Designer of the contemporary designing is not just a commercial artist taking the aid of a sophisticated computer but a direct descendant of the craftsmen, the scribes and the sculptors of the advanced ancient and medieval civilizations.

This new generation of ‘artisans’ may need to meet the requirements of the modern world enjoying the comforts and luxuries of the advanced technology; may pose as the sophisticated business executives in dark suits and with ultra-modern laptops, but, at heart, they are the good old creators of art and expression. They are capable of expressing Homer’s Iliad in an expression comprising five or six words! They make an impression not just on a paper sticker but on the minds of billions of intelligent humans. They are capable of creating a philosophers’ stone out of a whetstone and an Elixir from a no-good fizzy drink (just a pun!!!).

These qualities are essential for this designing job because, in this rat-race world of business there is no time for elaborate epics, and their people have no patience to marvel at the intricate patterns. Everything must be simple and direct — easy to understand and easier to remember…

The modern sculptor, i.e. the logo designer, using computers may be far superior to the ancient sculptor who used tools in their crude form, but he is deprived of the luxury of ample time and space.

The saga of creative art continues as long as there are patrons. In olden days it was the kings, queens and the rich, and in modern days it is the corporate business entrepreneurs.

The success of a logo designer depends not entirely on the availability of technology but on the creative mind and heart. The designer must feel the pulse of the design throbbing in his mind as a pregnant lady feels the heartbeat of the fetus that is taking shape gradually and growing into a baby.

The designer’s creation of a logo must inspire the copy-writer so much that the caption and logo must go hand in hand to kindle the minds of millions of consumers and stay there for a future generation of buyers to appreciate them.

And at SpellBrand this is exactly the philosophy practiced in order to create a work of art in the name of branding a product.

Romancing the logo

The trio’s short-lived-forever romance:

When so many complicated, epoch-making events are involved in creating a brand-name, one should consider the matter not based on one’s logic but on one’s instincts.

In the event of Logo Designing it is not just one mind that creates a legend but three – the Boss, the Logo Designer, and the Copy-writer. Though the requirement is from the Boss; the sketch from the designer and the caption from the Copy-writer, the real ‘impression’ is from the trio, just like a chubby adorable baby born to two loving parents with the help of a midwife. And just like how that baby makes the strollers in the park turn their heads to gape at it longer than the etiquette of the society permits and how it makes a huge smile spread on the faces of the down-hearted among them, the Logo must keep consumers stand still and gape at it long enough to make them curious to know about it, take it into the hands and read the details on the pack of the product. Only then is the purpose of that creation is realized in true sense.

And for such a creation three brains, three minds and three hearts are to be twined in — one blending into another.

In the business world, there is no margin for error. No chance of making a trial and error approach. Once the product is flushed on to the market, it is like the marauding barbarians attacking mercilessly the Great Wall of China. There is no turning back because once your back is turned you are stabbed … stabbed to death! You cannot have the comfort of the feeling that “It’s only just a battle lost, not the war.” For, in the globalization of trade, the product is brought out on to the market in a flood, a tsunami, large consignments are sent to the shores of the remotest parts of the world at a time. One false move at any stage of this mega process and everything crumbles down, just like the empires of the past.

And it is the Logo and the branding that keeps the product floating.

These enormous risks are fully understood by the artists at SpellBrand, the leading Logo Designers. The clients are treated with understanding, not with calculators. There a client is given a sense of delicate romance draped round the shrewd business deal.

Treading on sentiments = inviting troubles

One man’s food is another man’s poison:

In the present business world, the catchphrase is ‘globalization’, which means mutton processed by Kiwis in the Antarctic is sold to the Inuit in the Arctic; carpets spun in the Sahara are used by people in Siberia; spices grown in the Sub-continent are relished by the tourists on St. Helena Island and the mobile phones made in the Orient are put into extensive use in the Occident.

So, one has to be extra-cautious in giving a product its brand-name and logo because the intricacies of numerous cultures and sentiments are to be considered and due weight must be given to each one. For example, a simple sign of the letter ‘Y’ turned upside down ‘ to imply the remorse of the great poet, Robert Frost, in his poem The Road Not Taken may touch the imagination of the educated circles in the Occident, but may mean ‘way to subway’ or, even worse, ‘way to toilet’ to the common folks in the Orient.

Therefore, it is important to have knowledge of the ways of life around the world and also the wisdom to use the knowledge without confronts and controversies. Otherwise, you will be in a catch-22 situation.

A recent incident may demonstrate the point: how an innocent, over-enthusiastic action turns into a disaster. At a trade fair in a fashionable European city, the promoting executives of a foot-wear company displayed their products with alluring pomp. Using the well-sought-after knowledge to entice people of a certain country, they grandly put radium stickers of the Father of the Nation of that country on their best shoes. Then all hell broke loose! Instead of being proud to see the picture of their Father of the Nation in an International Trade Fair, the people from that country, a big chunk of the market, took a serious exception to this act of desecration of printing their leader’s picture on the footwear.

Vehemently, they demanded the organizers of the fair to take immediate and strong legal action against the company involved. The result was with heartfelt regrets, humble apologies and, of course, huge losses, the company removed their prestigious items from display shelves unceremoniously! Had the product been some head-gear, the entire venture would have been a thumping success.

A milder and less conspicuous example could be an orthopedic pharmaceutical company making sure-cure medicine for broken bones and for improving the overall strength of the bones has a skeleton, an extremely well-designed one, for its logo. The publicity unit applied their logic which is unquestionable but failed to consider instincts. The result: they could not find a brand ambassador! No celebrity would want to carry a skeleton on their back, even if the skeleton is Lucy’s, the well-preserved, prehistoric skeleton dug up by archaeologists some decades ago in Ethiopia.

These simple and serious mishaps make us aware of the fact that it is not enough to have technical, artistic and marketing knowledge. One should have a sensible heart for the feelings and the sentiments of other people, particularly the consumer.

Most entrepreneurs can afford to lose a fortune without ever wincing, but none of them can afford to lose customer loyalty and the public sympathy which are the very essence of the business world.

At SpellBrand these subtleties are treated with great care and dexterity. Never has a client been subjected to any faux pas! There is an almost zero-credibility gap – in words and in deeds.

Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & Creative Director of Logo Design Works. Since 1998, Mash has helped thousands of businesses express their brand messages through creative and award winning logo designs.