Friday, March 24, 2006

Javed’s Screed

“First, let’s kill all the logos.” (If you’re going to paraphase somebody, make it a big somebody like William Shakespeare.)

At first glance, that’s what branding expert Naseem Javed seems to be saying in an article here – which you might want to read if you use a logo, want a logo, create logo for other companies or manage the logomarked assets of a business.

He starts his article on this UK business website with the headline, “Is your small business logo that important?” He continues:

Corporations, which have heavily relied on graphic design, logos and too many colorful themes while ignoring the real names, are facing some new challenges. As the logos have lost their power, the companies now have to reinforce their ignored name as a solo warrior. Previously, names were basically seen in print; today they are mainly typed in cyberspace.

Your logo is not that important these days, as most customers have no motivation to remember the subtle intricacies or bizarre approaches to logos that are intended to stimulate demand. They are already flooded with colorful graphic look-alikes and continuously regenerated blasts from every corner.

Javed then goes on for another half dozen paragraphs with his rationale for using (essentially) a simple typeface treatment of your company name instead of attempting to create the next BMW propeller or Nike Swoosh.

According to the article’s tail-end ‘graph, Javeed is the author of several books and “is recognized as a world authority on global name identities and domain issues.” He is also credited with founding ABC Namebank a quarter century ago and conducting executive workshops on image and name identity issues.

I was tipped to this by Susan Kirkland who, as a Master Designer, was upset about Javed’s article: “Some days, I just don't have what it takes to speak eloquently. I don't think he knows much about what bad advice he's giving. I went to his link for his corporate communications website and there's only a home page, nothing else.”

True enough, at the url in Javed’s contact address listed in the article, there’s nobbut a Home Page resembling the “blue screen of death.” Susan warned me to be careful that this isn't an experiment to test word-of-mouth or see just how much publicity he can get for being ridiculous.

Yet he does own ABC NameBank. The company has offices in New York and Toronto.

Criticism’s no new experience for Javed. He’s been nailed a number of times the past few years for silly-seeming pronunciamientos. Wordlab just about lost its mind about something he wrote back in the Year Three (here, about midway down the page). Look for the ‘graphs that starts:

Idiot wind: It's
commentary like this that makes the whole naming and branding profession look bad. No, worse than bad: downright idiotic. This screed by “naming expert” Naseem Javed is appalling in the depth of its wrongness. At first we just threw up our hands (Where to begin?), but now we feel compelled, in the interest of our profession, to debunk this bunk point-by-point.

Which the Wordlab article proceeds to do at great length.

I use the word pronunciamientos advisedly. It’s Spanish for “authoritarian declarations.” Javeed is an authority, even if self-declared. The way he says things apparently raises hackles all over the English-speaking world.

Despite such reactions (The horror! The horror!), the issue he is trying – unsuccessfully – to address is that few companies, especially small businesses, have the marketing dollars to make their logomarks as familiar as Coca-Cola’s and Mercedes Benz’s.

Yet I bet you’ve heard at least one client say, “We want to be the Mercedes of this industry” or something similar. Javed is suggesting – again, unsuccessfully – that businesses should be careful how they spend the dollars they’ve got.

There’s room in the marketing communications industry for a lot of viewpoints – even screeds. I only wish that Javed had made his viewpoint a little more clearly.


steve manning said...

The mystery deepens when you try and find anything he has named.

Richard Laurence Baron said...

I'm loving this - does anybody know what Javed has accomplished?

Eric Weaver said...

okay. so the guy's a mystery and it feels like he's offensively self-promotional. and he's making big, bold statements. but, richard, without trying be a contrarian...who cares? there are a million people in our biz that make claims, self-promote, and give bad advice. why single this guy out? it'd take an army years to get everyone that does this.

maybe he's just really busy. shit, i've got nothing more than a splash page myself, because thankfully. i'm drowning in work. doesn't necessarily mean there's an intent to be secretive, does it?

- eric

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Thanks for the note, Eric. In the main, I agree with you - and I'd say the same if I could post a response to your blog without joining yet one more thing in this world. Who cares?

On the other hand, I note that when I roll my cursor over your url at, a little dialogue box pops up. It says, "Brand Dialogue - a dialogue on responsible marketing..."

So maybe there's a question about responsibility for one's words. (I had to eat some of mine just this morning, in fact.) In any case, the post was designed to solicit responses and I greatly appreciate yours.

Eric Weaver said...

I don't blame you for not wanting to do the emaily-joiny thing. I hate that kind of crap but I hate it moreso when people haven't owned their comments on my blog in the past.

Brand Dialogue is my blog, SoundPrinciples is my company. Again, no secrets there. I've got responsibility for both. :)

I dig your other posts...that one about whatsisname just seemd like a personal vendetta.

steve manning said...

I happened to have saved the url for Naseem's elusive portfolio page. You can no longer find it on his site, but it is still up. Have a look at the kinds of names he really thinks are the most powerful:

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Thanks, Steve, for passing the link along. It so happens I've heard of two of these companies.