Partisan Advertising was recently hired to work on a logo and branding design. We were recommended to the client by our good friends at Digital Masters. After numerous passionate meetings, held in insanely hot and humid coffee shops, and after the quote was drummed down by 25%, we were given the go-ahead to start.
After 52 hours of time (including meetings, travel, and everything else), tracked on our third favourite piece of software, Time Doctor, we finished the logo design. We presented a series of bespoke designs, complete with executions of what the logo would look like across a range of media, covering everything from a web page to the good old business card to the App icon thousands of people would see on their smart phones.
After almost two days of dead silence following the presentation, we received an email response: “I have spoken with the board regarding the excellent logo & branding designs you sent through and number #1 has been the favourite across the board. We feel the logo is a perfect fit for the company and the speech bubbles emphasise the idea of connectivity and dialogue we are wanting to establish between our users.”
Hoorah, great success! Let’s crack open the Bollinger. Well, not exactly.
When the client presented the approved logo to their web design company, everything came off the rails. In less than 15 minutes, the logo was flat out rejected, the client’s positive decision had been over-turned based on the input from their web designers, and Partisan Advertising was asked to leave the playground.
Rejection is a common speed bump found in the world of logo design (and the world at large). This is not the first time it’s happened to me and I’m certain it won’t be the last.
I can imagine that by the time you've finished reading this post, thousands of logo rejections will have taken place across the globe. If you consider how economical and easy it is to commission a logo through websites like fiver.com or freelancer.com, you can easily see how quickly logo design has become a downhill race to cheapness and uneducated decision making. With so many options available, and so many logos flying past our eyes every day, how do we make a qualified decision about what logo is right for us?
I recently read a blog that said the most you should spend on a logo is $500. Apparently any more than that was pointless. Legend has it that Nike paid $36 dollars for their swoosh logo. Based on the aforementioned blog, Nike got the bargain of the millennium considering that today their brand is valued at $24 billion dollars.
But bitching and moaning about being rejected isn’t the point of this blog post. Nor is how much you should pay for a logo. The point is that you must always be true to yourself, regardless of where, what, and how. And this logo design rejection reminded me of that.
At Partisan Advertising we have a very black and white approach. The idea of grey areas is alien to us. Our business strategy, when conceived in 2010, was built around a simple philosophy: The advertising agency for everyone is the advertising agency for no one.
Whenever I’ve been true to this philosophy it has paid huge returns. I’m not talking about financially – money is never the object; I’m talking about spiritually and emotionally. I’m talking about the reward of recognising and honouring your beliefs. I’m talking about the goose flesh that cascades warmly over your skin when something triggers the awareness in your mind that you are being true to what you hold as sacrosanct.
And true to form, without fail, every time Partisan has stepped away from our core beliefs, we’ve paid a terrible price. And this logo design job is a perfect example. The company in question has a business philosophy that contradicts ours in every way: We will be everything to everyone.
When two diametrically opposed philosophies meet, the only outcome can be chaos.
You might ask why I didn’t pull the plug on this job before it got started? It seems so obvious and all the signs were there, so why did I carry on with it? I’m not sure how to answer that.
I think sometimes I push onwards hoping to convert people to my way of thinking. I mean, I’m always right, aren’t I? When I forget my beliefs, this push for conversion goes way too far, and the next thing you know I’m running into a coffee shop with two kilos of C4 strapped to my chest yelling “This logo is good! This logo is glorious!” After chaos comes madness.
Maybe I did it for the money? But I said it before: money is never the object, it just gives chaos a place to hide. After all, I must feed the beast that fuels my belief structure and pays wages. And that’s the conundrum. Which would I rather have: starving and sleeping under Grafton Bridge because my beliefs are so rigid, or living in comfort in a million dollar home because I’m flexible, and wise enough, to know just how much leash to give?
In a meeting a few weeks ago, I said to a client that I have no idea how to do a “cheap” job. Because all my creative work is based around thoughts, experiences and ideas, it’s impossible to dial down my brain to do lesser work. Some people may however remark that I haven’t been able to dial my brain up to do any decent work (criticism = easy = fun). It’s simple when it comes to manufacturing: use cheaper materials, outsource to India, make more, charge less; someone, somewhere will buy what you’re selling. But how can that be done in my world?
The only thing that separates Partisan from the throng of other agencies out there is our people and our beliefs.
Partisan and our competitors have many things in common: We all have access to the same computers, the same resources, the same world. But our biggest difference, and the most important one, is that Partisan’s beliefs are different. So different that we scare people. So different that we make our clients millions and millions of dollars every year. So different that a logo design matters as much to us as anything else in the world.
Without beliefs, you have nothing.
The crux of the scenario however is that having beliefs, and standing by them, is vital but at the end of the day it’s just as important to have someone who believes in you as much as you believe in them. This is true not just in logo design but in everyday life.
I want to thank my logo design client for reminding me of this.