Public Relations: No, You Can’t Have Your Own Logo

Hello. I’m the new dean of the college of business, and I have big plans for our school. We’re the best school on campus—accredited and nationally ranked. More people need to know it and recognize us. I want to make sure we are attracting the best students and faculty. I’ve made some preliminary drawings of the logo I’d like designed.

Director of design: Hello. Nice to meet you. I understand you went to Harvard. I’m also an alumnus, and …

Dean: (Interrupts) Yes, yes. I loved Cambridge. I think the logo should include a pyramid, an all-seeing eye and the likeness of Alexander Hamilton. I love the color green since it is the color of money; it sends the right message about entrepreneurship and financial success, I think.

Director of design: Tell me more about what you’re trying to achieve. Perhaps a logo isn’t what you need. Perhaps …

Dean: (Interrupts) I know what I need. Please just create this. (Hands over piece of paper.) It’s the most important marketing tool we have.

Director of design: Oh. Hmm. Well, these aren’t the university’s colors or the official font. And this is a copyrighted image. I’m afraid …

Dean: I don’t really care. Please create this by tomorrow. We have a newsletter going to print on Friday.

Director of design: Unfortunately, I can’t do that.

Dean: Why not? Who do I need to speak to?

Director of design: You’re speaking to the right person. According to university policy, there is only one logo and word mark for the university.

Dean: I want a logo. The college of business must have a logo. Please explain why not.

Director of design: McDonald’s, for example, makes fantastic French fries. They’re quite possibly the best item on the menu. Yet, McDonald’s fries are not marked with their own logo. They’re marked with the McDonald’s logo. They’re a very important part of what makes McDonald’s so well-known, yet they do not stand alone. They are a part of a larger brand. They are featured, promoted and celebrated, but they are not branded with their own logo.

Dean: I’m going straight to the president. (Slams down fist.)

Director of design: Be my guest.

Dean: (Storms out)

Scene: The vice president of communication enters director of design’s office.

VP: Who was that?

Director of design: New college of business dean.

VP: Did she want a logo?

Director of design: Don’t they all. Everyone feels that creating a logo is doing something important, when they are actually avoiding tackling the real challenges they face. I wish they would talk about what they want to achieve and to discuss their aspirations. Seems like many people demand their own logo because they feel diminished in importance if they don’t have one. Moreover, the logo should explicitly express their personal view or idealized vision of the importance of their school (or department) above and beyond that of the whole to which they belong.