Explain that you should be employed to find a brand idea that will form the basis of all the company’s branding (and perhaps even future business decisions) of which a logo should only be one expression, an idea that is likely to form the basis of a the brand’s overall approach. Such an idea may already be a defining characteristic of the business waiting to be celebrated in the branding.
Point out other brands your client admires that can be identified by branding elements that are not the logo. Some well-branded businesses can be identified by their colour, typeface, photographic, illustration, or even copywriting style alone, or (more commonly) a carefully selected combination of these elements. Try to point out the underlying idea that determines all these other brand elements.
Your client’s success is your success. Sell a process to your client; a process you’ll guide them through and that will enable you to decide on a brand identity solution together. This will help you to establish a long-term relationship with your client. If you deliver good ideas they will be more likely to consult you again to develop the brand ideas even further.
Avoid references to the word “logo,” rather talk about the marks of a brand of which there should be a primary “brand mark” (two words). Replace “logo” with “brandmark” (one word). This will help you and your client to think about the overall experience of the brand and not just the logo in isolation. Logos are only meaningful in context and they should be seen to add value to that context. It is unlikely that a logo alone will be able to add sufficient value to a business. Logos are best employed in a system of brand marks that determine a unique brand experience.
Avoid logo beauty parades. Don’t only show different logos; logos are usually abstract expressions of an idea. Show how the logo idea relates to other brand expressions of the same idea. Show how an idea works in other situations, not just on stationery. The better the idea, the more unique, adaptable, and valuable it will be, and the higher the fees you can justifiably charge. Dedicated logo designers are a dime a dozen whereas brand identity designers offer far more value and often dramatically improve business for their clients.
Coca-Cola photo by Antonino Tumminia.