Abstract art does not communicate to those who do not understand its language: it plays dumb.
Here’s a Ripley’s Believe It or Not incidence from my memory: In 1984, as a young copywriter in advertising, I was helping the NGO, Child Rights and You (CRY), communicate about ‘ART for CRY’, an exhibition of paintings donated by various artists. Their sale proceeds would go to the CRY corpus.
One of the paintings got exhibited side-ways: neither the artist nor the viewers noticed the difference! (Don’t dare me: I remember the artist’s name!)
Connoisseurs of this form of art have this argument in support, “If I speak to you in Chinese, you won’t understand me, right? Unless of course, you learn Chinese. So when you learn to interpret abstract art, it will communicate to you.”
Art is any way different from your company logo in many ways:
1. It is created by artists as self-expression: they are sharing her viewpoint about the universe without anybody asking them to do so. They love it if it communicates to a larger group of people, but that is not why, the purpose of what they create.
2. Artists have no particular target segment or stakeholder in mind: those who like it, stare at it or buy it.
3. And finally, art has no commercial objective: nobody measures how many people’s perception it changed or how it affected the artist.
Despite this limited ambit of its influence, abstract art is phenomenally expensive: Jackson Pollock’s painting “No 5, 1948” was sold for $ 140 million in 2006 ; adjusted to June 2011, it converts into $156.8 million (approx. INR 733 crores)
(Do stare at this image and decide whether you, the CEO, would spend that kind of money on your logo)
On the other hand, in the best case scenario, your company’s logo:
1. Has a specific objective and target: it must communicate to internal stakeholders (employees) and external stakeholders (prospective employees, clients, partners) what exactly your company stands for, so that they decide to join or not join your vision
2. Is the most visible aspect of your company: the logo is the first face that every stakeholder will encounter...on the web site, on every single visiting card that your thousands of employees share every day around the world, in millions of leaflets and pamphlets that your sales staff distributes.
So if your logo does not communicate, it is an opportunity wasted...many million times!
That many million rupees or dollars or yuan wasted: a commercial waste, a lack of business purpose.
And yet, and yet...how many CEOs:
1. know what they want their logo to communicate to their stakeholders?
2. themselves understand the logo without complicated explanations by their designers?
Because if the CEO doesn’t understand the language of her own logo, neither does any stakeholder.
And yet, the CEO allows his company to spend millions on hiring a design consultancy, changing stationery, changing signage, changing packaging, changing...
On your balance sheet, it could get reflected as sunk costs of an abstract nature!
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