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August 16, 2013

In my opinion simple, clearly-read logos make the best, most identifiable marks. But when your logo resembles another’s too closely, it’s memorable for all of the wrong reasons.

One example of the importance of branding was brought to my attention this summer by my nine and twelve-year old children. One Saturday morning, we pulled into a local strip mall. Shining brightly above was a new sign installation for Smashburger. This small restaurant chain is popping up all over New Jersey and now we had our very own. While their mouths watered over the thought of yet another juicy burger joint, a second light bulb went off in my son’s head. He said, “Hey, wait! That’s the same logo as GameStop.” My daughter then chimed in and said, “Oh yeah, and that looks like Vitamin Water, too.”

I paused to consider all three logos side by side. Quickly realizing they were right, I reveled in my proudest moment as a typography-geek and parent.

So how do these logo faux-pas happen? How does corporate America approve logos without doing simple research? If my panel of mini-market researchers can identify, compare and critique corporate identities so easily, how could this have slipped past the suit and ties?

I’m certainly not saying any of the logos mentioned were poorly designed. They’re strong, bold and clearly read from a distance-just not unique.  I believe that in the ocean of branding that is thrust in our faces hundreds of times a day, companies should present themselves in a way that makes them unique. Great logo design will set you apart, and get you noticed for all of the right reasons. The takeaway is simple – do your homework.