Magazine article Marketing

Why Logo Louts Spell Danger

Magazine article Marketing

Why Logo Louts Spell Danger

Article excerpt

Design expert Paul Southgate warns that Twinkies and Logo Louts could wreck your brand

As David Ogilvy once said, "it takes a big idea to get the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product". It still amazes me how few new brand designs reflect this wise statement. In the packaging design world, the importance of a strong and relevant idea is by no means universally accepted. Indeed, some of the leading design consultancies are headed by creative directors who do not believe in ideas; who in certain cases wouldn't recognise an idea if it bit them on the bum.

The opponents of ideas - and they are legion - can be divided into two camps: the Twinkies and the Logo Louts.

The Twinkies believe that craft and aesthetics are all that matters. They are the purveyors of restrained good taste and understated minimalism. At its best, their work is elegant in the extreme, and it tends to do very well in creative award schemes.

Occasionally the personality such work exudes (quietly confident, stylish but slightly cold and aloof) happens to fit that of the brand to which it is applied, and can prove to be effective in the marketplace. More frequently, such work is only appropriate for the designer's portfolio it adorns, and it all ends in tears for the client.

The Logo Louts are more robust in their approach. Worshippers at the shrine of shelf-impact, they go in for bold graphics, bright colours and giant logos. As with the Twinkies, their work may or may not be a good match for the particular personalities of the brands on which they are working, but at least it sticks out like the proverbial dog's appendages. Or does so until you get a whole category (confectionery, for example) in which the Logo Louts have run amok, in which case their strident clamourings tend to cancel one another out.

What unites the Twinkies and the Logo Louts, despite the enormous differences in their creative output, is their lack of interest in ideas. They will talk of their work in terms of design concepts, but they use the words in so woolly and inaccurate a fashion as to be guilty of language-abuse on a scale unmatched since value" became a synonym for "cheap". When Twinkies or Logo Louts talk about a "concept" what they invariably mean is "visual on a board" - not an idea. If there are three visuals, there are three "concepts"; six visuals equals six "concepts", and so on.

In truth - or at least in the true sense of the word "concept" - six visuals may contain six concepts, or one concept executed in six different ways. Or (as is all too often the case) no concept at all. …

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