Bring Your Own Logo
by Jeff Henderson·
I had been a designer at Nike for 5 years when Sergio Lozano told me something I needed to hear out loud to understand. I was showing him some sketches that I’d been working on and he like the least likely of the bunch. Puzzled, I asked him why?
“The rest of these look familiar,” Sergio said as he brushed aside the concepts I thought I liked.
“I just thought those other concepts felt more like they came from Nike,” I countered.
“You’re a Nike Designer, right?” Sergio asked.
I smiled knowingly.
“Then this is now a Nike design,” Sergio said with a smile. “In fact, everything you draw is a Nike design if it makes it out the door. That’s kind of how it works.”
Yesterday I was reviewing a portfolio from a designer but couldn’t shake the fact that page after page was filled with Swooshes.
Five years into the job and I felt like I was still earning the right to drop a Swoosh on my drawings, so I clearly felt some type of way about someone filling his portfolio with the logo from Beaverton. I don’t want to fault the kid but putting the Swoosh on your sketch is like putting adding Jill Scott to your SoundCloud promo. I can’t tell if your work is good because you sprinkled it with genius.
E Scott Morris would say that we shouldn’t get to add the Swoosh until after your design made it through Concept Debut — the seasonal creative kickoff. Some logos add value even in sketch form, so it’s difficult to tell if the design is hot or if it just carries the logo well.
Oddly enough I’ve spent the last 8 years pretty logo free.
Using logos from other companies also muddies the waters if you want to show your work to multiple brands. Not a lot of designer directors at Converse want to see page after page of trefoils unless you spent past 5 years delivering the goods from Herzog.
My advice is to go logo free or create your own logo. Do something original so your work is the only thing on the page. Because if that work is hot someone will be happy to pay you to put their logo on it.