What’s in a Logo?

Rumor has it that UK oil group BP spent close to $150,000 US dollars on logo design before launching the now instantly recognizable sunflower logo in 2001. British Petroleum adopted this new logo and rebranded itself as BP (“Beyond Petroleum”) due to negative press on their poor safety standards and other reasons. This new logo was to symbolize energy in its many forms. Along with their new corporate logo and slogan “Beyond Petroleum” and a $200M advertising and marketing campaign, this new direction represented their focus on meeting the growing demand for fossil fuels, manufacturing and delivering more advanced products, and to enable transitioning to a lower carbon footprint.


Investing this kind of capital for a logo is not unusual; many companies will easily spend hundreds of thousands on creating the right branding package. Once a simple, effective, and enduring logo is identified and combined with a first-rate product or service, the magic begins. Image, product and company come together in a brilliant, synergistic fashion. A star is born. No longer will customers accept tinkering with a product or image they love. Nike’s swoosh logo hasn’t changed in over forty years. Some years ago, GAP scrambled to reclaim their original logo after misdirected attempts to redesign the company’s logo began to irritate the public. The Apple emblem is simple and unique and clearly registers with billions of people world-wide. Not a soul would ever consider replacing the endearing Apple image with anything else. That would just be so wrong, wouldn’t it!?

Clearly the right logo can pay long-term dividends. It is inextricably linked with the fortunes of a winning company. Like the fabulous sugar cookies your beloved Grandmother makes, you can’t imagine the cookies without Grannie, and vice versa. As a venture-backed start-up we didn’t have the huge capital reserves of a Coca Cola or BP. However, we had a computer with an Internet connection—and a vision. Fortunately, this digital age has been kind to start-ups. Now growing companies have access to reasonably priced world-class design talent in a snap. Although there are quite a few out there, our Graphic Design Center of choice is 99designs.

99designs and Talent at Your Fingertips

Clearly not all services (dentistry for example) can be delivered via the Internet. But some services are perfectly suited to an online venue. We already have access to online accounting programs, travel services and banking. Now we have access to graphic design.

Once you are registered as a client, the interview process at 99designs begins. You are asked to describe your business and business needs. You are asked to describe your design vision with lots of details. You are asked to complete a questionnaire. A sampling of the questions includes:

  • Whimsical or serious?
  • Traditional or abstract?

Rank these preferences with a sliding scale. You provide additional comments to guide the artists. The branding package you select at the outset determines the caliber of designer, differentiated by experience and skill, you get to work with. The 99designs website claims to have access to 1,128,000 freelance designers. All have an incentive to take home the prize money awarded to the winning design. The designers you paid for hunker down and start to work. The contest begins, you hope for the best.

The Contest

After a few days, the results of your contest begin to trickle in. You sift, eliminate and offer suggestions for improvement of your favorite designs. There you have it. Suddenly you have access to a massive community of designers, a bustling micro-economy of competitive artists all vying for the top prize. No in-person meetings, no complicated processes, and no colossal bill to pay. This is capitalism via the Internet at its very best.



The Logo that Captures CivilGEO

How do you capture the core purpose of a high-tech company? Ours is a bold, abstract design consisting of blue and green triangles that represent the merging of land and water. The black triangle that “surfaces” between the two both intercepts and combines earth and its associated waterways. This logo, with the added impact of bold primary colors, conveys what our software essentially does.

CivilGEO Logo

Recognized World-Class Software?

Of course, as we discussed at the beginning, a great logo is never enough. Top performers Coca Cola, IBM and Apple offer the complete package:  great products, great service, reliable brand and the right logo that brings the brand together. So CivilGEO presses on, offering solid customer service, high quality software and advanced modeling solutions to engineering professionals worldwide. We think we may have a winning combination.