Without Looking, What’s the Last Logo You’ve Seen?

By Matt Van Hoven 

You people, listen up because we’ve got something to ask you. After you finish reading this paragraph, close your eyes and think of a logo, any logo. If you live in a metropolitan area like New York, you’re (supposedly) exposed to more than 5,000 images per day. You all know this, but now we want you to be a consumer for a second and think about the last brand identifier you saw. And it doesn’t count if it’s on your coffee mug.

The coffee mug doesn’t count because you opted in to that logo &#151 so we’re talking about things you don’t yet own or services you don’t yet use. Just close your eyes and think about it.


Now think of five more. Write them down. They can’t be clients, either. Just purely things outside of your work.

We had you do this little experiment because we knew you’d do OK at it. You’re professionals and to a certain extent your livelihoods rely on your ability to remember things like this. The people you’re trying to market to could name maybe one or two logos they’ve seen in a day. Jim might know that he drove past a McDonald’s on his way to work, but did he *see* the arches?

Although it’s hard to tell how effective visual cues really are, it is safe to say that the vast majority of regular people (those not in the biz) couldn’t care less about the thousands of visual aids and furthermore are unlikely ever to care because unless they want or need something, there’s no reason to do so.

The answer to this problem is not finding new places to drop your client’s logo. In fact it’s astounding how reliant the industry is on visual cues &#151 brands are like that annoying brat in grade school whose mother raised her to think she was the cat’s meow and this lead her to be a complete bitch but since she had money people paid attention to her all the way through high school. Then everyone went away to college and became their own people and found independent success and wondered why they ever paid so much attention to that stupid mop of a human being who oh, by the way, is now waiting tables at Shenanigan’s in Rosemount.

She never made it because rather than building relationships and earning trust she just threw herself into every possible social situation even if she clearly didn’t belong there and in doing so became hated by the band kids and the jocks and whatever. The majority of your brands do this all the time and the collective “you” needs them to do it so you can eat. We get it.

But cavemen used to drag their women around by the scalp and ah, last time we checked that sh*t doesn’t fly anymore.

And now we feel like the “no press is bad press” rule is a cure-all; an excuse to whore brands across the globe. Now we got to tiny cultures and give them heart-attack inducing burgers &#151 you know, just to see what they think.

“Just be everywhere, good or bad,” is what we tell our clients to do (uh, I don’t have clients but c’mon). The part you don’t think about is the net effect that de-whoring your clients could have on the business of advertising. I don’t care who you are, you don’t want to see 5,000 logos a day. Think about that the next time you throw on your pimpin’ shoes.

The net effect is fewer logos to compete with &#151 less noise, less waste, less less less. More business, more awards, more creativity &#151 less redundancy. Maybe with less the business could begin to overcome some of its problems &#151 namely the perception that it’s a wasteful, malformed half-sister of entertainment.

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