Snooty Peacock's logo
These sorts of visual witticisms draw logo designers to brand identity design like moths to a flame.
Much of this kind of work gets churned out by capable but inexperienced and misguided designers hoping to make an impact on the brand consulting world. This is logo design book fodder and designers who do this kind of work mostly remain working as dedicated-logo designers and go no further. This kind of work very rarely leads serious businesses and at best occasionally does well for boutique level brands – boutique level and no further.
There is much to admire in this logo but it is too richly loaded with specific references that lie well outside of mainstream tastes; much like the work of Aubrey Beardsley. One might think this was a good thing and that the logo is so clever it ought to do well for a boutique fashion business. But, such a richly loaded logo also gives people reason to avoid it.
The pooping peacock is an extreme interpretation that limits appreciation quite severely. The levels of meaning in the logo indicated a borderline genius handling of the medium but it is too clever in too dark a way. Once you read the pooping peacock it almost impossible to 'un-see' it, much like the FedEx arrow. This logo gives too many people too many reasons to avoid Snooty Peacock. Snooty Peacock may look good but by this logo it also looks like a Snooty Peacock person has shit taste.
Except for maybe The Partners, the rest of the agencies you quote tend to produce design-led work. And, this is my point. Design-led work tends to be focused on the craft aspect of design and often gets caught up in the concerns that make this logo problematic for the reasons I've already mentioned. This is often at the expense of the rest of the brand-marks that make up the brand and that bear, in part, a brand strategy. A logo such as Snooty Peacock, as clever as it is, is too much of an end in itself as far as branding goes. It's just a logo and, to my points, not a brandmark. To better grasp what I'm getting at avoid the design-oriented agencies and instead look at the work of the more strategic brand consultancies such as Landor, Interbrand, Futurebrand, The Brand Union, Moving Brands, Siegel+Gale, Saffron etc.
Both design-led agencies and strategy-led brand consultancies are concerned with how and why brands exists. How and why a brand exists is a strategic issue. Chances are a strategy-led approach will provide the best outcome.
There are very distinct limits to what design can do for brands. These limitations have not yet been properly articulated in a broader cultural context. As far as I can see design is completely in service of strategy, consciously directed or other. It doesn't make sense to measure the value of design outside of how and why the designed thing exists.
I worked on the Consignia brand. The brand strategy was sound. What couldn't have been foreseen were a number of much larger political events that conspired to see the strategy fail. The BA tail fins were great from a brand design perspective but a nightmare from an air traffic control perspective. Lesson learned. It's a good case study to progress brand consulting for airlines.
I wrote earlier that the Snooty Peacock logo work is not ever likely to go beyond a boutique level in business. It is clearly a logo and not a brandmark. Work of this type is not effective in coordination with other types of marks that make up brand experiences that are both scaleable and rich.
If Snooty Peacock intends to grow their business beyond a boutique level brand then it would be imperative to demonstrate the difference between a logo and brandmark. An issue might then be whether or not Snooty Peacock's consultants are qualified to make this distinction.
The difference between a logo and a brandmark cannot be so easily dismissed. This is not merely a semantic variation on the same underlying material. The Snooty Peacock mark is self-contained as a brand. To the extent that it is an end in itself. It does indeed relate to the idiosyncrasies of the business and is clever in a way that offers distinction but, to my points, the type of work and the particular content of this identity is not conducive to scaling the business up beyond a boutique level.
A logo-based approach to taking the business beyond a boutique brand does sometimes work but it is very hard work. Design consulting has been exhausted as field capable of standing on its own. Design is now in complete submission to brand consulting for those who care enough to think about why and how this is the case.
Starbucks is not a valid equivalent. Starbucks is a brand not entirely reliant on it's logo, although by the new treatment it may well become too reliant on the symbol but at least it now has the potential to become iconic in a Nike, MacDonald's or Apple kind of way. The Starbucks mermaid is relatively inane and not nearly as loaded with specific references. The mermaid has been rendered in a relatively objective way. The only subjective symbolic issue is the fact that it is a mermaid; not the specific mermaid. Snooty Peacock is highly specific and intentionally snooty in every way, including the pooping peacock. An interpretation that is very relevant and that may not even have been intended by the designer or recognised by the client.
Customers don't own our brands but it may sometimes make sense to treat them as if they do. This is perhaps another semantic adjustment that may not appear significant to the uninitiated. It's a nuanced difference that makes a significant difference in establishing trusted relationships between consultants and clients...
Whether Snooty Peacock intend to grow their business beyond a boutique brand or not, the point is that the business is hamstrung by an identity not suited to anything but a boutique brand.
Despite the prominence of the logo in the new treatment, Starbucks doesn't need to rely so much on it's logo. There is so much brand equity in the other marks that make up the experience that the logo doesn't bear all the weight of the Starbucks brand.
And, despite Starbucks' talk of the symbol as a siren it's not actually a siren, it's a mermaid. Sirens have wings. Mermaids have tails. I expect that they've gone for a obscure interpretation as sirens are perhaps considered more enticing than mermaids.
The Starbucks symbol is set to become iconic because it means so much to so many people. It's deeply embedded in consumer culture. As the primary brand-mark it has the full weight of a rich and immersive brand experience behind it.
To better illustrate my point about the difference between a logo and brandmark, brands are made up of various types of marks that not only signify the experience but also determine the experience. There is usually a primary mark that leads the overall experience and this is where thinking about the primary mark as a logo is no longer effective. A logo cannot carry a brand. A set of interdependent and coordinated brand-marks can.
Starbucks has many other types of marks that make up it's brand experience. Perhaps one of the most significant of these brand-marks is the presentation of Starbucks as a 'third space'.
As far as has been demonstrated the Snooty Peacock brand is only represented by it's products and a single solitary mark. Clever and interesting as the Snooty Peacock logo is, it is still only a logo.
Showing the logo in context would help to demonstrate a brand but it would probably qualify as weak branding.
Typefaces and colours are basic design tools expected of any business whose identity has been attended to by a designer. Only if other types of marks help to communicate an idea in addition and in total then we start to experience a rich, flexible and scalable brand identity.
Courtesy of the thinkers at Wolff Olins, there are three schools of thought and/or stages in brand identity and brand identity development.
1. Brand expression. Stick your logo everywhere.
However, in the case of Snooty Peacock, not only is the type of work problematic the specific content of the identity is problematic, beginning with the name. The logo just takes snootiness to the next level in a very clever way.
A central strategic insight demonstrated across a whole experience is what's required for a really strong (and memorable) brand identity. Otherwise, designers are just providing a styling service. Style, luxury and status pretty much defines the boutique world, no matter what the type of business.
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