Chapter 14

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A friend of mine who went to art school told me about an assignment that his class received: To redesign the classic General Electric logo. You know the one, almost older than electricity itself, consisting of a script G and E inside a circle with four little swirls in it.

According to my friend, the students not only attacked the project, but some of them actually thought that their design would be adopted by the General Electric Corporation. And, they openly considered how much money they would make when the General Electric Corporation recalls every sign, business card, catalog, piece of paper, and manufacture design that they have all around the world, to replace their 112-year-old symbol with this kid's bright idea.

I guess that being unrealistic is part of being young. But, this is pretty crazy.


Changing logos is pretty crazy anyway. For the most part, very successful companies don't change their logos. Consider GE, or IBM, or Ford, or Chevy, or Milwaukee, or Kelloggs, or Sony.* Loser companies (Kodak, Xerox) call a press conference every few years to announce their new or "refreshed" logo.

The worst logo change ever was when Xerox took their stately-but-eternally modern, business-blue, perfect Xerox label and scrapped it for a red X.

In the first place, in all of American culture, Brand X signifies the inferior product.

What do you do when you reject something? You X it out. The eX-quality copier company, where you met the awful person who is now your eX.

And it's red, just like the packaging for the bottom rank of retail products for poor people with garish tastes to buy. Blue for the average folk, black and gold for average folk with luxury pretensions, red for the losers in their rusty cars.

You wouldn't think that people could do anything this wrong, but Xerox has special powers. I knew some people from there. The stuff they tell me...


And, how about the small organization that returns from some motivational meeting all pumped up and wanting to make some kind of changes. They think, unsuccessfully, for a while, until someone pops up and says "Let's design a logo!!"

So they put all that energy into that silly inept logo and that's all that ever results from their energetic motivation.


*It's a lot harder to think of common, well-known brands nowadays, since so many of them are empty names owned by marketing companies and stuck onto whatever product the Chinese factory is running this year.