Tuesday, February 1, 2011

When good logos go bad, who's to blame?

The original logo design I created in 1999.
In 1999 a local coffee house, MoonBeans Coffee, asked me to create a logo for their new business. One of the main requests, by the company owner, was that the logo appear as if the company had been a well established franchise. With that in mind, I dove into my research and worked closely with my client while developing sketches.

At the end of the entire process, the client choose the logo that you see here. I developed a full brand identity system for MoonBeans that included stationary, disposable cups, menu boards, etc. I even painted a mural on a wall and helped design the interior of their original establishment.

After months of collaboration and hard work, the client and I slowly stopped working together. He concentrated more on radio advertisement, which is a media that I do not work with. Days became months, and months became years. On a rare occasion, the coffee house owner and I would get together and work on a small project but our business relationship never blossomed again.

Flash forward to 2 1/2 weeks ago (1-15-11). I walked into a local burger joint and saw that same logo I created 12 years ago on a T-shirt, but it had been (how can I put this kindly) revised. As soon as I saw the altered logo, my first thought was, "Somebody changed it, and it doesn't look good." Honestly, I would have had the exact same thought whether I had designed the original logo or not. Knowing what the original logo looked liked and seeing what it became, makes me think that "the change" did not improve the logo or my ex-client's business. It seems that whoever altered it had a very specific audience in mind. Or absolutely NO audience in mind.

Altered logo.
Now, don't get me wrong. I don't feel bitter about this at all. No designer should expect their artwork to live forever without being adjusted after so many years. As a general rule, graphic designs rarely last more than two years, due to changing trends. Most well designed logos will last 8 - 10 years before someone changes "something" about them.

So who's to blame here? Me for not keeping up with the client? The client for allowing a negative change to his image? The designer who made the change for not having a broader audience in mind?

I've passed by the coffee house many times. Each time, I see the exterior light sign that still bares the original logo. That gives me hope that not all branding efforts are lost for my ex-client. Maybe it's time to stop by for a cup of coffee???

-Pete C.
Brainwerx Design
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