The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

What Brand Consultancies Can Learn From Rock Bands ..
May 16, 2013, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Brand consultancies are a weird bunch.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s some very smart people in them, but as an industry – like advertising – they spout an incredible amount of shit.

If I see one more ‘case study’ that implies their new [or let’s face it, updated] brand logo is solely responsible for a particular companies “double digit” growth, I swear to god, I might have an aneurism.

[I know … I know … they do more than that, but am I the only one who finds it funny they always seem to suggest the development of a new logo is a vital component to making all their hard work, work. Cynical? Me? Never]

Maybe my blood pressure would feel a bit more inclined to calm down if the logos they designed were interesting, distinctive, progressive or differentiated – but no – most of the time they follow the blueprint for blandness and beige.

Now I appreciate that for all the talk companies give about being ‘different’, the fact is many have a compulsion not to stand out [living in fear of that they might alienate potential customers rather than thinking about how it could attract] … but seriously, some of these designs that are created could make magnolia coloured, woodchip wallpaper look exciting.

A while ago I wrote a piece for MTV about what brands could learn from bands, well if I was going to update it, I might call it, ‘What Brand Consultancies Learn From Rock Bands About Logo Design’.

What am I going on about?


Yes, it’s a range of ‘logos’ from a bunch of bands.

Now I appreciate you might not recognise all of them, but I bet you know more than you thought … or certainly more than you’d recognize if I’d put up a bunch of margarine brand logos instead.

However, if you were a Rock music fan – which I know you’re not – I’m pretty sure you’d recognise all of them, even if you’re not really a fan of that bands particular music.

So what am I saying?

Well, in each case, they are distinctive, instantly recognisable and represent a key characteristic of the brands attitude or attributes.

They’re not trying to blend in … they’re not trying to appeal to everyone … they don’t ‘relaunch’ every 12 months … they’re doing exactly what a logo is supposed to be, be distinctive and recognisable, regardless of the category it operates in.

Sure, you could argue some look a bit dated and in need of a freshen up – but I would say most, if not all – are still more interesting and differentiated than most company logos out there, even the ones produced by the amazing proprietary tools that Branding Consultancies love to bang on about.

While the music industry is dying, bands are very much alive and many, arguably, can look forward to a more prosperous future than many of the uber-researched, mass-spending, brand-onion-or-pyramid-loving brands out there.

We should all take note, especially the brand consultancies.

27 Comments so far
Leave a comment

congratufuckinglations on compiling a list of every fucking band i loathe campbell. very impressive. and yes, i saw you put queen on top of the fucking pile. you sad fucking groupie bastard.

Comment by andy@cynic

Agree. Though I do occasionally listen to the stones.

Comment by Pete

the stones are acceptable. queen or def fucking leppard are not.

Comment by andy@cynic

but as much as that picture shows how mentally deficient you are in music, youre using it to piss on the faces of branding consultants so i will admit that if given a choice between listening to some fucking van halen or some landor pitch, those hairy twats would win. just.

you almost have a good point here but the worry of supporting queen or guns and fucking roses means i cant go all out in agreement. that should still make you fucking happy because thats a bigger compliment from me than youve ever had.

Comment by andy@cynic

I am in shock. Sure, it’s not exactly a full compliment but neither is it a total slag-off and when you consider this is a post about the sort of music you have nightmares about, this makes it a very big compliment indeed.

Comment by Rob

and youre right about another thing, those fucking bands are all like a cross between the ever ready fucking battery and a cockroach. the bastards never fucking die. careful campbell, some planning twat will try and claim the quality of the logo reflects the longevity of the fucking brand. twats.

Comment by andy@cynic

If they did that, they’d be a massive propriety tool.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Interesting post Rob. It seems you’re implying that the late ’70’s / early ’80’s were the golden age for band branding or maybe branding as a whole. I’m not sure if I agree with that but I do agree the difference between these bands and much of the work I see coming out of brand design consultancies is, as you say, that they weren’t trying to blend in, they didn’t try to appeal to everyone and they didn’t relaunch every 12 months.

If there is any lesson in this post it’s the reminder that communication should always be distinctive and recognisable, regardless of the category it operates in. Not in a disruption sense, in a this is who we are regardless of the competition sense.

Comment by Pete

It shouldn’t be ‘news’ to anyone should it. In fact it isn’t, so I just find it interesting that despite that, brands seem to adopt a strategy of bland rather than distinctiveness.

As I said, the sad reality is many companies think its better to not run the risk of alienating any customer or shareholder versus do things to boost the value and profit of the brand through distinctive products and behaviour.

Though of course no one says this, it’s all about buying in to the group delusion strategy.

Comment by Rob

I prefer the bitter and twisted version of you much more Rob.

Comment by Bazza

If they changed logos, your tatts would look dated.

Comment by John

I don’t have any band logo tattoos thank you very much. But maybe a Queen crest would look nice. Thanks.

PS: My Mum now hates you for putting that idea in my mind John.

Comment by Rob

Axl Rose will be super excited to know some ad prick has used his bands logo to explain what branding twats should do next time they redo the holiday inn logo.

Comment by Billy Whizz

This made me laugh out loud. Now I feel dirty.

That’s a double win for you Billy.

Comment by Rob

On the other hand, football teams change their sponsors and their shirts every season and people keep on buying them.

Comment by John

Their logo doesn’t change though does it.

Comment by Pete

Next time you’re in London, I have someone you must meet. Though more accurately, it is someone you must argue with. Entertaining post Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

Another one? Oh goodie …

Comment by Rob

I love how you organized the logos into a pyramid 🙂

Comment by rafik

It’s the only way brand consultants would understand it.

Comment by Rob

Excellent point, despite the questionable choice of artists.
That said, I have a weekness for Def Leppard. Not only was Pour Some Sugar On Me the definitive track behind My Best Summer Ever,I work in a bar they used to own, Oxymoronically called ‘Players House’.
None of these logos compare to New Order album covers anyway. On that subject, Blue Monday is still the UK’s biggest selling 12 incher (apart from Ben Dover don’t pretend you don’t know who he is) but lost money because of overindulging the designers of the album cover. Which is a little like the hundreds of thousands I’ve seen wasted on the Interbrands and Wolf Ollins of this world, but then again it isn’t, since the Blue Monday cover was actually pretty amazing while brand consultancies charge a fortune for stuff only brand wankers notice.
Anyway, even those questionable folks pale next to the social media guru I’ve had to work with recently. The kind of person who knows everything about the latest pointless crap about integrating google plus with your site but fuck all about what moves people. No sense of business effect, only social media effect and, this is where he lost me, calling the average UK consumer ‘the great unwashed’. Actually he lost me even more when accused me of not having any experience of social only advertising, which gave me great pleasure to (politely) describe the cartoon Panda Facebook page that Hall and Partners reported was more effective than the telly and other stuff that actually had a fucking business effect.
We won the pitch by the way, I like Canadians for now, but when the news was emailed out, he replied to everyone, ‘Not bad for a new boy’. One hour, moderately good thinking that gave them a provocativ point of view, pretty good creative and media ideas with ‘tall value’ built in- 5 minutes on social media doodah 101.
I’m may or may not be secretly writing the thinly velied autobiography of a Media Disruptor, and believe me, he’s going to have a big part to play. He’s comedy gold. And the best bit is he thinks I like him.
This is actually more kind of blog post my less reasonable alter ego would write isn’t it? Sorry about that.

Comment by northern

Jesus Christ … what a comment.

Appreciating Def Leppard … talking about New Order [and 12″ records which is a bit like talking about how 1/2 penny pieces were your favourite of all coins] … pissing on self proclaimed, self congratulatory social media ‘guru’s’ … Canadians … character assassination … using this blog as your alter egos dumping yard … this could be the best comment of all the comments this year. And I include the swarm of diatribes those strangers left on my Einstein post for absolutely no reason. So well done Northern, this is the high point of my day. And it’s not even been that bad a day.

Comment by Rob

thats what happens when you deal with moose fuckers.

Comment by andy@cynic

Oh, by the way, won another pitch this month, which is not the point I want to make. the point is that it had Boba Fett, The Smiths and Tim Minchin in it. If only it had included George Constanza and Kato v Clouseau and there would have nothing else in my life to achieve, apart from the demise of Media Arts that it

Comment by northern

I couldn’t agree more with this post, this is exactly why we should have Keith Richards running the country.

(As a huge rock fan, I found your logo game easy 😉 )

Comment by marcotheman

Since AC/DC are in the middle of the pyramid, I’m gonna pretend that makes them the best! 😀

Comment by Eddie

I get your argument about the lack of nerve most brands have when it comes to their logo. And I have too agree with most comments that the logos you choose as an example are not the most up to date ones.
We specialise in music and brand logos. We call it illustrated logo design. I recently wrote a blog post about it.
The blog is in Dutch. But the designs are universal in language 😉

Comment by marleengosterk

Leave a Reply