Years ago a friend was in the process of building a business from scratch. Through his hard work and determination, it was coming along. Eventually, he purchased a computer system to help him manage things.
Unfortunately, the computer included some graphics software. Upon discovering this, he decided his company needed a logo and that he was going to design it.
Although I would trust my friend to design a home addition, a wiring schematic or a business plan, graphic design is not within his skill set. Problem is, he didn’t realize this.
A few days later, he unveiled his spiffy new logo for me.
Our friendship had never been truly tested until that moment.
All I could say was, “Hmm.”
“Well, what do you think?” he asked.
“Do you like it?”
An uncomfortable silence followed as I contemplated my options: I could lie and say it’s nice. I could just kind of noncommittally acknowledge its existence. Or I could buck-up and tell him it sucked.
Finally, I mustered my courage and said, “You know, I work at an ad agency. We could have designed a logo for you.”
“Yeah, but I did it myself – for free!”
“You don’t like it?”
“It doesn’t say anything about your company. It’s just the initials stacked inside a random shape.”
“That’s not random, it’s a triangle.”
“What do triangles have to do with your company?”
“But look, I made a shadow coming off of it!”
“Yeah, I know you worked hard on it, but it looks… homemade. I don’t think it will reflect well on your business.”
“Well, I like it.”
I knew that was the end of the discussion. Once pride of authorship kicks in, a person becomes deaf to reason. You have a better chance of convincing them their toddler is drug dealer than to convince them to abandon their precious logo.
I said no more about it and within a few minutes (okay, hours) it was forgotten.
Over the years, my friend’s business grew and he ended up doing pretty well for himself. But I often found myself wondering how many opportunities he missed, the doors that might have opened, the notice that might have been taken, the positive perceptions that might have accumulated, the recognition and awareness that might have developed more easily, had his company’s logo been something that would have distinguished his business from those around it.
I’ve never met a harder working, more committed or conscientious businessperson than my friend. His work ethic is unparalleled.
He deserves a better logo than the one he gave himself.