This post continues our discussion on creativity in the Pharma industry, identifying issues, highlighting case studies, and providing best practices guidelines for Pharma creatives.
By Dan V. Licht (@thedvl)
Pharma logos? Creative? I can hear you snorting from here, you know. Not very polite. And anyway, I know what you’re thinking.”Creative? Pharma company identities? Make a dark-pastel ellipse or a swoosh or a double helix, add a name that includes ‘bio’ or ‘gen’ or ‘pharma’ or ‘lab’ in a sans serif font. What’s so creative about that?” Well, it does seem that way sometimes, yes. But there’s really more to it than that.
Eponymous is the way to go. For the top companies, surnames are still the leaders – pointing back to an era before made-up words. Charles Pfizer, John Smith, Mahlon Kline, Robert Johnson, Fritz Hoffman-La Roche, Eli Lilly, William Bristol, John Myers, Edward Squibb, Frank Wyeth, Friedrich Merck, Wallace Abbott, Chobei Takeda, Albert Boehringer: you recognize their names, and you’ll recognize their logos. Even the colors have become synonymous – the teal of Merck, the red of Johnson & Johnson.
Changes through the ages. Johnson & Johnson’s corporate historian, Margaret Gurowitz, did a whole post at Kilmer House on their logo. (Ever notice that the ampersand connects with the second capital “J”? Find out why!) But perhaps the best known logo is that ofPfizer, who last year – apparently not busy enough acquiring Wyeth – underwent less of a logo redesign and more of a modernization, as Bnet and Brand New covered.
What’s next? Trends in logos are tracked and predicted by many in the design industry, but as we see infographics becoming more common, I suspect the design of a logo will become less and less frequently a standalone design consideration. You can see this in Pfizer’s redesign, as described by Brand New. It’s accompanied by a typeface and design handbook that don’t echo or mimic the logo itself in any way, but are made to be used in corporate design. It is allowed to be much more interesting than the logo itself. As a commenter notes, the overall package is “not about changing a symbol, but rather the symbolism of change.”
…Which is a great way to describe the purpose of logo redesigns. As creative as we can get as, well, creatives, we always have to remember that the “equity” in “brand equity” can be priceless.
Now, pick a favorite. I have to admit, trends and all, design and panache notwithstanding, my favorite logos aren’t always the prettiest. I prefer the most recognizeable – the ones that don’t appear to change much over the years. If I had to choose a favorite pharma logo, I think I’m going to go with Lilly.What about you?