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Why Your Kid Can’t Do This: 5 Key Differences Between a Drawing and a Logo

The gift of genius is to make something complex look amazingly simple. We see it all around us in elegant engineering solutions, amazing architecture, engaging art and effective design solutions. In art and design, the brilliance is often achieved by what is not there—engaging your mind to complete the picture. But, how many times, have you heard someone say, “My kid could have done that!” Just because something looks simple, doesn’t mean anyone can do it. Quite the contrary.

Thinking that “anyone can do it,” some businesses assume it is unnecessary to pay more than $25 for a logo from Logos ‘er Us (fictional business). They are surprised when they can’t scale it, no one remembers it, it is hard to read on a sign, and the colors or fonts don’t reproduce well. And, now they are stuck with it.

Recently, on a road trip out of the city, I saw a prime example. We passed a fireworks store, Top Dog Fireworks. From the highway, it looked like their logo was Mighty Mouse, fist raised, streaking into the sky. (I could almost hearing him singing in bass tones, “Here I come to save the day!”) Discussion ensued. Why a mouse? Why wouldn’t they use a dog? Maybe not Underdog, but some dog hero.

Well, NEVERMIND: I looked it up on the Internet and it IS a drawing of a dog. It just happens to make a dog of a logo that doesn’t read at all from where you need it to—from the roadway. And, most importantly, the logo isn’t doing its job: helping to embed the company name in your memory. (I wonder if their kid did that logo?)

So, taking nothing away from any talented progeny you may have, a logo is not a drawing beside some text that spells your company name. Here are five key differences between a drawing and a logo:

  1. A logo is the essential element that evokes the experience of a brand. A drawing or clipart next to type is often done just to have a visual for the business card rather than as a tool that embodies the brand.
  2. A professional logo is designed to be readable and understood in a variety of media and environments. The drawing just needs to be readable when you’re standing in front of it.
  3. A successful logo is built properly in a scalable, usually vector, file format to that it can be sized as required for a variety of uses: from on the company plane to on a golf ball. A drawing just needs to be the size the artist intended.
  4. A good logo is part of an identity program that includes versions of it designed for use on both light and dark backgrounds and on different materials so that it always presents a strong and consistent representation of the brand. Guidelines and examples will document its correct use. A drawing: you can place it wherever you want.
  5. A drawing is art. A well-conceived logo is the art of reinforcing your brand.

Still think your kid can do that? Now, if your kid is the next Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast or Jony Ive, I take it back. But, if not, hang his or her drawing on the fridge, and hire a professional to get your brand the logo it deserves.

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