In 2003 the firm I was heading marketing for, Quintant, was acquired by iGATE and I became its VP marketing. iGATE at the time was also known as Mascot Systems, and as a result of multiple acquisitions had a number of smaller organizations under its fold. To signify the integration and the move to a single name, we created a fresh brand identity.
This was the concentric rings of a tree trunk – to symbolize the individual components contributing to a whole and also to signify the growth. The last 10 years have been good for iGATE and it has grown from $200mn to $1bn+ through the acquisition of the erstwhile Patni.
This week the new CEO of iGATE unveiled their new brand identity, which drops the visual logo and just keeps the logotype. Now, yes, of course, I am biased. But I have spent all day thinking about the potential benefits for the firm. Typically a B2B firm decides to go with a logotype because they are simpler to reproduce, and if you’re the kind of firm that has to print thousands of business cards or t-shirts, a little cheaper in the long run. But what if you already have your logo plastered everywhere? Then you’re going to spend quite a bit of money in replacing cards, painting buildings etc. For not too much upside. Though your internal folks might go into a bit of tizzy about the ‘change’, your clients won’t care much. Because while a new visual logo gives you something to talk about over the mandatory client dinners, dropping one does not. A logotype is also not as easy to protect legally, more so for names that are used across categories.
I was on the other side of the fence in 2000 as the Brand Manager for Infosys. Infosys wanted to ‘modernize’ its logo. We were in danger of becoming a generic word, so the legal beagles thought a visual logo would help to distinguish the identity and protect it. We embarked on a 2 year process to find the perfect visual logo. We almost settled on one and then developed cold feet – the thinking was that the upside was not sufficient to meddle with what was then a well recognized logotype. The logos weren’t bad – our design firm sought permission to ‘donate’ two of them to educational institutions they were working with on a pro-bono basis and both are now at the top of the league tables!
When I was thinking of an identity for my own firm Paul Writer in 2010 I went through the same debate again – visual or not? I chose to go with a visual, one that is a pictogram that represents the vision of my firm “help us to help you”. I’ve been asked to explain the name and logo on a number of occasions, so I think it does help make us more distinctive and memorable.
Given that in B2B, noone is going to pluck your services off a shelf because your logo looks cute, the purpose of your logo is something that has to be thought through. Do we have one because everyone does or because we truly have a symbol that is memorable and helps us to own a space in the minds of our prospects and customers. There are just as many successful B2B firms with a logotype as those with visual logos.
So if you’re a B2B firm here are some questions to ask yourself before plonking for a new logo:
1. Will this logo distinguish you amongst your target audience?
2. Is there a legal requirement for this logo? (For example is your name not quite unique)
3. If you were asked to quantify the ROI for the design fees and transformation, would you be able to put a number?
4. Is there a problem with your current logo?
5. Are you changing your logo because you’re personally bored with the current one/ want to leave a mark as CMO/CEO?