Beauty is in the eyes of the designer
When I chose to pursue a career in design, my family was entirely supportive, but to this day, I don’t think they fully understand what I do. It was only when my father asked me to redesign his company logo that I found a great opportunity to let him experience my work first-hand. I could finally show him how designers operate and prove that we are not just a bunch of artsy know-it-alls. Little did I know, that I was going to be the one walking away with more perspective on what design is and how different people interpret it.
The first and most obvious question was that of the timeline. My father figured that designing a logo shouldn’t take too long and gave me a whooping 24 hours to come up with it. Naturally, I scoffed (perks of working for your dad) and told him that creativity takes longer than a day. He reluctantly complied and gave me three. Now, as a creative professional, I am aware that it IS possible to come up with an idea in just a day. But, would that idea have any worth? One of my professors, once, very profoundly said, ‘Anyone can design well. It is just a matter of knowing when to stop.’ And to this day, I find that the most enlightening insight on the industry.
So, I began my journey and started with my research. I looked up competing firms, went through their design history, shortlisted a few interesting ones and created a reference pool of imagery. When I went to my father with these resources to get his opinion, he looked at me with surprise.
‘What do competitors have to do with it?’
‘Dad, we need to see what the competition is doing to understand how to position ourselves.’
‘That’s a strategy issue. Why does that matter to the logo?’
‘A logo is how people look at your brand. It evokes emotion and communicates your brand values even when you aren’t around.’
‘You think EVERYTHING my company stands for can be represented in just one design?’
‘Maybe not everything, but..’
‘I want the logo to be in red.’
‘Because I like it.’
When I realized I was fighting a losing battle, I decided to return only when I had something substantial to show. I continued with my sketches and developed three unique concepts for the logo. I’ve always known him to be a straight-forward man, so I ensured that my designs were simple and to-the point. Too much frivolity and I would’ve lost my client. On the third day, I proudly showed up with my work, hoping to sweep him off his feet. He took one look at the designs and asked ‘Where is the red?’ I took a deep breath and launched into a saga of colour theory and why blue is more suited to his business offerings. The reason brands invest heavily in patenting signature colours is that it represents who they are.. blah blah blah. He listened to me patiently and then responded simply, ‘My clients are not going to stop coming to me because my company logo is red.’
In that moment, I realized something extremely important about design. It is a means to aide business, not an opportunity to take it over. Designers happen to get too overcome by their creativity that they forget that it is the service that people come back for and not just the aesthetics. Do the aesthetics help? Sure they do, but under no circumstances do people value beauty over function. So does that mean logo designing is a farce? Not at all. When I say design helps a business, I mean that it makes it accessible to people. It simplifies a process and presents it to the user in the most uninterrupted manner. It communicates an idea effectively without allowing the user to think too hard. That can be through a logo, a website or even a newspaper ad. It’s not that my father was entirely right and I was entirely wrong. His clients wouldn’t stop giving him business just because his brand colours had changed. But, if potential clients were to see a well-designed logo, it would definitely make a difference. It was a matter of marrying both our ideals into one unified output, of finding a common ground and allowing design to grow the business without stunting its identity. That being said, I still didn’t give in to all his demands (read: his obsession with using red) and held my ground for as long as I could.
It’s safe to say that I’m still working on the design and showing him fresher ideas every other week. ‘Will you pay me for all this rigorous design work?’ I asked. And finally, it was his turn to scoff (cons of working for your dad).