How much does a logo truly say about a company’s reputation? In my opinion, a whole lot. And I think it’s one of the most valuable reputation tools an organization holds in its artillery.
On Feb. 11, the United States Mint revealed and released its newest version of our favorite Lincoln-bedazzled currency, the penny*. Like many logos that need to be updated to reflect the times or a company’s evolving atmosphere, our American copper piece has undergone a serious makeover. Apparently we weren’t quite ready to separate with Mr. Lincoln’s profile shot; however, the back side features a union shield with thirteen vertical stripes representing the thirteen original states. In a way, a country’s currency, like its flag, is its national logo.
All this talk of logos and patriotism (and ugly stepsisters) brings me to Canada. What event puts a country’s reputation under a magnifying glass more than the Olympics? This year’s winter Olympic Games’ host country, Canada, got off to a rough start. Not only did they have to fly in snow, but for a while there we doubted that 2010 would be the year for Canada to break its painful tradition of never winning a gold medal on their turf, ever. But before any of this, there was the logo.
The New York Times reporter Phred Dvorak called it “Michelin Man Meets Stonehenge to Birth an Olympic Rock Star.” Nothing says athleticism like the Michelin Man and a heaping pile of rocks that hasn’t moved, ever. The logo is an inukshuk, a stack of stones traditionally used by the Arctic Inuit to mark anything from a hunting spot to a food cache, but the word literally means “something that substitutes for a person.” But in Canada’s defense, there is nothing worse than a logo that sparks indifference. Unfortunately, it would appear that we are in for a longer-than-anticipated bad logo season, as London brought back the awesome ‘80’s for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Ouch.
A logo is only as good as the entity it stands for, but a good company with a good logo is virtually untouchable.
• 25 Redesigned Logos of 2009
• Happy 52nd Anniversary to Helvetica, the typeface found in the logos of Microsoft, Toyota and American Airlines
• The Rolling Stone “Tongue” logo artwork just sold for $92,500
*Fun fact: It actually takes more money to produce a penny than the penny is actually worth. Hence the anti-penny group, Citizens for Retiring the Penny.