Posted: April 20, 2007
This morning a client asked us to make the logo bigger on their newly designed site. This is such a common request that I felt it deserved a little blog entry.
Disclaimer 1: First off, let me say this: this particular client is one of our favorite, all-time, superstar clients. They’re mad-smart, responsive, understanding of the creative and technical process, they stay on point and value the thought that has been put into the strategy behind their new site (which has included everything from IA, to design, to advanced SEO and of course coding) and on top of all that they are incredibly nice people. We are truly THRILLED to be working with these guys.
Disclaimer 2: VisionPoint is not the type of shop that promotes design snobbery. We will never make a design decision based solely on stylistic trends. We do not ‘poo-poo’ our clients when they don’t understand the design process (hell, I studied classic Swiss design in an intensive 5-year program at one of the best schools in the country and I’m STILL learning things about the design process).
Having said that, there is a lot of baggage in the design community about clients wanting to make their logos bigger (as a matter of fact there’s a funny little song spoof about this at http://www.underconsideration.com/MaketheLogoBigger.mp3).
Designers have been known to react negatively to this request for size increase but in my experience they’ve not been all that good at explaining their opposition (many designers, being the visual creatures they are, are not widely known for their verbal skills and this can cause frustration and lead to the perception of design-snobbery, which is frankly unacceptable … but that’s another blog for another day).
So when our client asked about making the logo bigger this morning I thought I’d respond by providing them with an appropriate and justified REASON for not wanting to do that. I didn’t complain, I didn’t take it personally. I thought it through and I opened up a dialogue with them (note: I had this technique drilled into me by one of my favorite brutally-honest professors at MassArt, Bill Hannon. He never ONCE allowed us to use the word ‘like’ when critiquing work. We had to give a REASON for why something WORKED appropriately. After all design is not self-expression … again, another blog for another day).
My reasoning was two-fold:
1. The placement and size of the logo on the site is designed in a way that uses the white space above the logo to lead the viewer’s eye from left to right, then down into the central focus area of the home page (the messaging and global navigation). If we were to interfere with that flow, the line of sight would not be as smooth as intended and this can leave the viewer feeling slightly uncomfortable. Now I know that thoughtful design (in this case: putting thought into the specific placement and treatment of various elements on a page) is not as prevalent as it used to be, but there is MUCH value in knowing how elements react to one another, and even more so to how the interaction of these elements guide the viewer’s attention.
2. What your organization DOES is much more important than your organization’s LOGO (another client, who I had lunch with today, refers to this as ‘smoking your own dope’, meaning that sometimes, we are so entrenched in the internal workings of our own organization that we can get a bit ‘hazy’ on how others view us). Prospect clients coming to your web site want to know WHAT YOU DO and WHY THEY SHOULD BUY FROM YOU. Understanding your corporate culture (heck, even knowing your organization’s name) is very secondary. This is why you want them to focus on the things that are important to them FIRST, THEN follow-up with info about the company to seal the deal. So, for this reason, a larger logo may actually distract a prospect and defeat the purpose all together.
Both valid, justified reasons right? Right. Our client understood and agreed with these points (can I tell you again how much we love this client?). We are coding the site and on schedule for launch. We have no reason to make any changes right? Right?
Well as it turns out, when we went back to the design, we saw that we COULD in fact make the logo a bit bigger WITHOUT disrupting the white space and without distracting from the messaging. Our logic actually supported making this particular logo larger if we wanted to.
We still felt that the logo would be just fine at the size it’s at. But seeing that the integrity of the design and site strategy will remain in tact even if it is made bigger, we are going to happily make that logo bigger… within reason of course.