How do you like them apples!

How do you like them apples!

Feb 2, 2010

There’s nothing like having someone reiterate how clever you are… especially your boss! It is rare that anyone will approach you after the fact and say “Do you know what? You were right!” Ooooh… it makes me all goosepimply!

This week, the point I was ‘so right’ about was that when we approach the design of an identity for any business, we should move away from the obvious. There is nothing more frustrating for a designer when lets say a client who owns a coffee shop approaches you with a brief for a logo, and the words ‘I reckon we should have a coffee cup with steam rising from the top!” escapes their mouth.

Granted, sometimes designers do get a little too clever for their own good (myself included). We don’t want to alienate the market with something that they cannot digest, connect or understand. A simple logo, a stylized representation or an abstract mark is often most effective. A logo needs to be clean, recognizable and create a point of difference.

On my drive home yesterday, I thought a little more about what I was ‘so right’ about. I thought more of the logos that I really love and encompass what I believe to be good design. The first that came to mind was Apple. Apple is genius. Simple, too the point and iconic. But guess what? Their logo is… drum roll please… AN APPLE! My stomach sank. Maybe I was wrong! How could I possibly write this blog when one of the most recognisable brands in the world uses the most obvious icon?

But why does Apple work? It’s simple. It has a definite, uncomplicated form, the bite creates a point of difference from an expected representation of an apple, and it is not commonly red. However, after this analysis I was still not convinced… it’s still an Apple!

I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to design. What I do believe is that a logo is a visual representation of a companies personality. It is not about what they do! Imagine if the logo for McDonalds was a Big Mac, Nike was a sports shoe, Coca Cola was a glass of brown fizzy stuff or heaven forbid Starbucks was a cup of coffee. Would they be so successful?

Logo design is not necessarily about being clever, it’s about being smart. Apple works because of successful branding. Because the icon of an apple is so far removed from consumer electronics, the obvious representation works as it is simple, clear and creates a point of difference. There are no concrete rules and as designers we need to remember that every business is different. We can’t get caught up in being clever. A holistic approach to a brand will always work best. So… how do you like them apples!