I got a question from Noël Gilkey in my post about appropriate logo design and the NFLs Houston Texan’s logo. He thought the Texan’s logo looked, well…“odd.” When the Texans first unveiled the logo I noticed several unfortunate design characteristics which professional designers would call “mistakes.” And a few weeks later as they began to apply it to the myriad of applications that are necessary I noticed that the logo facing left looked odd compared to the version facing right (the one unveiled as the official logo). I wasn’t sure it would make much difference to the public but now it’s clear others notice it too.
So why does it look odd? Is it “backwards?” Many logos have a version facing in the opposite direction from the “main” logo – but they don’t look odd. It’s evidence of amateur design. A rookie mistake. A lack of attention to detail.
The reason is simple but not obvious to most people.
The logo facing left looks odd because the color of the horn and the color surrounding the eye changes from the official version facing right. That doesn’t make any sense to our eye. If we view the bull’s head straight on should the left half be red or blue? It’s confusing. And any confusion is a negative attribute for a logo symbol.
We don’t want to have to spend any time thinking about a logo design to figure it out, and it should never introduce any confusion. Clarity should be a priority. I wouldn’t put the Texan’s logo on the Injured Reserve list but it’s definitely not playing at full speed.
Consistency in visual identity breeds familiarity.
A logo, as the cornerstone of a visual identity, should be recognized immediately and communicate something – something intended, without any need for analysis or explanation. And certainly without any necessary excuses. It should be strategic. That’s how it adds value.
Inconsistency in visual identity breeds confusion.
But when amateurs design logos, even if they make it look slick, they often lack a strategic approach. But the team has to live with the oddities year in and year out.
The fan below painted the left side of his face blue and compared to the logo beside him, did he paint his face wrong?
Team Mascot adds to the confusion.
Is that the Texan’s Team Mascot on the left below or just a generic bull?
The Texan’s team mascot has a face that’s all blue. And it has white horns instead of blue or red. Not only that, where’s the star eye? This introduces a third version of the logo design diluting the impact and exclusiveness it could have. This confusion dilutes the distinctiveness of the Texan’s intellectual property and diminishes its value. The Texan’s logo is therefore a neglected asset at worst and an under-utilized asset at best. Evidence of not only amateur logo design but also amateur brand management.
These subtle mistakes are easy to avoid but quite common among amateurs. And avoiding them will strengthen the asset. How important are strong assets in a competitive marketplace?
Don’t try to win in the Big Leagues without a full team on the field.
The odds of winning in the NFL with only nine or ten players on the field are very very low. It would be a very risky investment. All organizations can benefit from fully utilizing each of their assets. Let’s put all eleven players on the field. And don’t put injured or handicapped players on the field, make sure each one is healthy. All-Pros even. It makes winning much easier.