17 February 2010

[logo] Iconic Logo = A Ton Of Money? Depends.

2324.In an article at Logo Design Love I saw today, the blogger asks the following question:
Can we create a truly iconic logo without the backing of a very fat wallet?
And I'd say it depends on what you mean by create.

One of the most well-known and iconic logos from out of Oregon is, of course, the fabled Nike swoosh. Its creation is the stuff of serendipitous legend. The designer who created it, Carolyn Davidson was, as the record shows, a design student at PSU at the time who was billing Nike as a design consultant at the rate of $2/hour (remember that this was in Nike's "Blue Ribbon Sports" era, and the year was 1971. Even $2 went rather a bit further then than now).

The famous logo itself cost the embyonic Nike all of $35 – once again, in 1971 dollars (Using the neato-mosquito calculator at http://www.measuringworth.com/uscompare/, this is, by the CPI measurement, about $182 – still a bargain). Later, when Nike finally strode the Earth like Colossus, they had Carolyn to a company lunch where she was given a nifty ring with the Swoosh and a bunch of stock (the amount and value of which remain a secret, but I don't think it's presumptuous to assume that the amount was $A Whole Lot).

So, one world-renowned logo was obtained, at the front end, for $35 and the mad skills of one young designer.

Or did Nike's relationship with Weiden+Kenney and Michael Jordan – where a metric ass-ton of money was spent, rather profitably – create the icon? Or, if the Swoosh wasn't simple genius from the start, would it have been iconic from that point on? Or did that deft move merely give the icon its power?

It's a little like lightning striking. But I think as long as you have a solid design, lightning's more likely to strike. I'm sure anyone reading this can think of a handful of icons that had money and talent helicoptered in just to debut to a "meh" from the zeitgeist.

No matter how much money you spend, if you got a solid design, you just might go far. You've certainly improved your chances.

My advice: If you get your design work at a bargain – make sure you go back and thank the designer appropriately if it turns out that you make it big.

(I need not point out that the Nike logo is copyright Nike, yes?)

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