Ask any marketer, rebranding is fraught with peril. The Great UNH Logo Debacle of 2013 is just the latest in a long line of rebranding efforts gone horribly wrong. There was the Gap Logo Debacle of 2010, New Coke… oh there’s a litany of new brands and logos have been announced with great fanfare and excitement, only to be pronounced DOA by their publics.
The University of New Hampshire is in a pickle. Having invested a cool $100,000 with a hot-shot NYC branding firm, they were presented with 3 concepts that look like… well, I’d say the work of a kindergartner, but that would be insulting to the innate creativity of kindergartners. It’s sparked such hew and cry that faculty are publicly embarrassed and alumni I know personally are threatening to withhold future donations. Perhaps worst of all, it’s generated a ton of bad publicity, even on TV not just in NH but Boston as well.
It’s likely a self-inflicted wound, though, as the client (UNH President Mark Huddleston and his ‘blue-ribbon” committee) gave the firm (which has otherwise produced some very nice work) too many parameters and requirements, which obviously stifled any creative ideas they may have had. One peek at the unsolicited logo concepts proposed by concerned faculty, staff, students, and alumni and you can see there were numerous directions UNH could have taken this effort that might have been more effective.
Of course, while well-meaning, UNH can’t crowdsource a logo, and neither should you. While you can get some interesting ideas from brainstorming with family and friends, we strongly recommend you should hire a trained professional graphic designer.* Don’t give them too many ideas of your own, but let them interview you and come up with some concepts for you to evaluate. You’ll pay them by hour or at a set flat fee — bank on at least $500-1000. (More if you insist on multiple revisions.) Sound like a lot of money? When you consider that this logo will be the face of your business on everything, everywhere you go and everything you produce, from letterhead and stationery to the side of your truck to your Twitter icon and more, it’s a small price to pay.
The alternative is a bad logo. A poorly executed logo is not just a missed opportunity to impress upon first impression. It will be unable to scale from 1″x1″ to a billboard or whatever media you need it to. It will reflect poorly on your business — if you chintzed out on your logo, you make folks wonder if you also produce low-quality products or services? If you’re a start-up, a bad logo will make your potential customers will wonder if you’re serious about your new endeavor.
OTOH, a clever and effective logo, designed by a professional, will capture your brand aesthetic and inspire confidence in your customers, partners, employees, investors, and all your stakeholders. In short, it will pay you back dividends for years down the road. Trust us, you don’t want to have to go through a painful rebranding to try to get it right later. Just ask UNH President Huddleston.
*Ask us for a referral!