The good and bad of names and logos

I am not a marketing or graphics design professional, but I think I have a pretty good eye for a catchy moniker and an attractive logo. There is more to a brand than a name and a logo, but these are the first two things that you see and, done well, can embed a positive impression of a company at first glimpse.

Of course, poorly done it can have the opposite effect. I’ll give you a couple of examples …

This is a terrible logo:


I apologize to whoever designed this. I’m sure when your uncle asked you to draw a logo for his contracting company you did the best you could, but this is just awful. I would not trust a company with this logo to fix my birdhouse.

Though it’s a bad logo, there is nothing wrong with the name “Andes”. That’s fine. I’ll give you an example of a terrible name:

accurate dorwinHey let’s all cheer: What do we do? DOORS AND WINDOWS! How do we do them? ACCURATELY!

I hate hate hate this name for two reasons:
1) It contains the portmanteau “dorwin”, and I despise portmanteaus, especially clumsy frankenwords like this one. (Yes I know “frankenword” is itself a portmanteau but it’s a fun one so that’s OK.)
2) It is overly literal. Literal names display an absolute lack of creativity. No good company or brand name is completely literal. What brand of jeans do you wear? Good Pants Company jeans? C’mon man. Put a little effort into it.

Know what other name is overly literal? Winnipeg’s downtown festival ManyFest

manyfestI’ve crapped all over the name ManyFest before, and for good reason: it’s a boring board-room concoction that is being used to describe a colourful and fun downtown street party. I’m still bitter that the original name Lights on Broadway was scrapped. Don’t you dare leave a comment saying “but the festival has more than the light show on Broadway” or I am going to come over to your house and strangle you Homer Simpson-style until your eyes bug out. THAT’S NOT THE POINT. Lights on Broadway was a catchy name that intrigues and leaves something to the imagination. Now unfortunately it is nothing more than the label for a component of the festival known by the literal and utterly dull (ugh) portmanteau ManyFest.

I should note that at least the logo for ManyFest is good. I like the colourful loopy Os. They evoke images of festive lights, perhaps blurred by a wet camera lens. This logo would have paired very nicely with the name Lights on Broadway. Sigh.


Here is an example of something I like … During my day job I stumbled across a particular company and thought to myself “Hey, this is well done.” That company: POET Biorefining

POETYou might not like the “POET” typeface, and that’s fine — it’s a love it or hate it type thing — but I like this for a few reasons. One is that the name POET is memorable, concise and evocative. It’s a heck of a name for a agricultural refining company, but not so out of place when you consider the earthy and progressive HUMAN + NATURE brand that POET is pitching. It works well because poet is a human quality while the leafy “O” represents nature. It is well thought-out.poet-human-nature

That same leaf shape carries though to the logo of subsidiary company Dakota Gold. While having its own brand and colour scheme, the leaf shape ties the two companies together, which is a nice touch. I like it when related companies can create that subtle linkage while still maintaining their own identities.dakota_gold_logo

I also like the muted colours used in the logo. Just my personal preference. I dig the grey and fern green.

But notice that neither POET nor Dakota Gold are literal representations of what those companies do. They are however catchy and memorable names, and that’s what counts.

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