make my logo bigger

There’s probably no line more common—or more disliked by designers and art directors, than “Make the logo bigger.” It usually comes after the client has seen the first mock-up, while there’s still a chance to edit things.

Designers think that whatever attracts the viewer is most important and that almost any size logo will work if you first have their attention. The client tends to think that there’s little point in marketing or advertising anything if the viewer doesn’t know who it’s for.

Paula Scher, a highly respected partner at Pentagram, and designer of the Citibank logo, titled her monograph Make It Bigger. On the first page of the book, she describes the first ad she designed at her first job. She submitted the ad for approval and was told to make the headline and the product name bigger. On the second submission she was told to make them bigger still. On the third submission the headline and product name were huge. The ad was returned with a memo to also make the logo bigger. The fourth submission came back with the notation that there was not sufficient room for the body copy describing the product.

The instinctive urge of the client to make things bigger is based on common sense. Bigger brings more attention and presumably more commercial success. Designers are concerned with the hierarchy of all the elements involved and yet designers are notorious for liking small type.

The difference between these apparent opposing directions is indicative of larger issues. Where do intuitive, aesthetic and design considerations intersect with pragmatic, strategic and business issues? What’s more important—look and feel, or an unseen strategy? Are design-driven companies like Apple Computer and Target successful because of their emphasis on aesthetics? Are Dell and Wal-Mart strategically driven?

Let’s face it. Design is the means to an end, and that end, like it or not, is commercial in nature. Design can make a Web site, a brochure or an ad more memorable and therefore more effective in influencing its audience. But ultimate success combines artistic and strategic elements in a symbiotic relationship.

Marketing and advertising cannot be reduced to a logical, rational discipline that can be defined, measured and predicted like rats in a science lab. The fact, figures and projections of research, when done right, can play a vital role in marketing, but you can’t stand on that alone. As Jon Steel, brand strategist at Goodby Silverstein & Partners said, “In the scientific method, there is no place for art, inspiration, instinct, intuition, magic or luck, because they cannot be measured, predicted or easily repeated.”

If your marketing or advertising isn’t memorable, or doesn’t touch your emotions, it’s probably the fault of execution, not strategy. Execution—the design, the writing—is the hardest part of the branding mix to control.

Art is where the true magic lies, but art alone is not enough. When combined with strategic and business considerations to achieve a shared goal, creativity has the best chance for success, no matter what the size of the logo.