What’s in a logo?

Bottles
Photo courtesy of Roadside Pictures

How important is a logo?

A few weeks ago, I decided to renew my membership at my local gym. To my surprise, (and later, my disappointment) the gym had completely changed during the months I’d been away, beginning with a bold new logo that was stretched out across the front of the building. I soon learned that the gym had been acquired by a larger company that was going about making several changes to ‘improve’ the quality of the fitness studio, and the new logo was the first of many steps in making those changes.

But let’s backtrack a little. I first joined the gym a couple of years ago. When I signed up, I was instantly sold on the relaxed, friendly vibe I felt as I passed through its doors. In my experience, gyms tend to be too clinical, catering more toward the fitness freaks and bodybuilder types that bring in the bulk of the revenue. But this was a different place. It seemed to be I could be sitting at a rowing machine next to a 75-year-old gent as much as, say, a lean twenty-something with perfect abs. And that was what originally drew me in. It was a place where everybody felt welcome. It was more about improving health in a relaxed, encouraging way that simply made you feel good. And what more than that do you need? Apparently a lot, according to the new owners of the club.

Staring at the new bold sign on the front of the building, I could tell that my once warm and inviting gym was gone. The logo, built in large red and black letters, was sheer-edged and pumped up (like the kind of bodybuilder they want you to be, apparently). It looked like the kind of blocky font you find on almost every bodybuilding supplement.

Unfortunately for me, the changes didn’t end with the logo. Despite already being a pretty slick facility, the new owners promised a complete refurbishment of the building over six months, with upgrades to machines, weights and other equipment. After renewing my membership, I also learned of a more immediate change: tie-in fitness merchandise. From apparel to bodybuilding supplements, advertisements were now being blasted through the gym’s overpowering sound system while you work out. It can certainly be argued that these are all good things in terms of business expansion (and other gym goers may even embrace these changes), but in implementing them, the spirit of my old gym had been killed.

I’m sad to see my friendly gym replaced with a cold, clinical place much like thousands of other fitness studios on the planet. But I must give kudos to the company for their new logo, and here’s why: before I’d even entered the building the logo told me everything I needed to know about the new direction they were taking, with a single glance. Okay, so it turned out to be a negative association for me, but that doesn’t change the fact that the logo was perfectly clear in what it was selling. Not every business can claim to do the same.

Building your brand from the logo up is a smart way to inform people of exactly what it is you want to sell them. If you’re about to set out on a new creative venture, be mindful of your intended target when designing your logo, and it should get you a long way.

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