Online backup company Cyphertite recently invested in some advertising on the popular social news site reddit, figuring they'd get some good exposure for their service at a reasonable price. What they didn't expect, however, was some unsolicited advice from a reddit user regarding their logo. Here's what Cyphertite's old logo looked like:
And here's what a reddit user had to say about it:
...yikes. (Also, tee hee.) Cyphertite, to their credit, responded with an amusing blog post titled, "We changed our logo: It no longer looks like a vagina." Talk about not beating around the bush. (Euphemism unintended.)
In my opinion, they handled the embarrassing revelation admirably by publishing an official response that was humorous, well-written, and swift. And despite the reddit user's less than tactful criticism, the company actually took the remark seriously and changed their logo to a less-open-to-interpretation padlock:
As giggle-inducing as this ordeal was, it poses an important question: are you too close to your ideas? Oftentimes you can get so caught up working with a designer on a logo or pulling late hours on a business concept that you may become blind to any downsides or flaws attached to your project. Much like how it was always a good idea to have a friend proofread your term papers in college because you had probably rendered yourself cross-eyed and mush-brained from working on them non-stop for weeks, you likewise might want to have a fresh set of eyes take a look at some of your business concepts for feedback.
And I don't mean just pinging folks in your department--your own team might have some valuable remarks, but they also may be too closely involved with your project to bring an objective eye to the table. If your design team's been working on a logo for weeks, ask the finance department what they think. If your content marketing crew has been bouncing around a list of ideas, ping the developers on what sounds the most interesting. You don't have to take anyone's opinion as gospel truth, but turning to someone who can look at your work with a fresh, unfiltered perspective is a definite advantage for your business.
Encourage feedback from unlikely sources and invite them to be completely honest, even if the feedback may seem immature or silly. Hearing that a design you've used to represent your brand looks an awful lot like intimate ladyparts seems uncouth, sure, but wouldn't you want someone to point that out to you? Having food stuck in your teeth is embarrassing, but it's even more embarrassing to walk around like that all night, grinning like a fool while everyone stares at you like you're some sort of slob.
To be clear, even with all sorts of focus groups and feedback from various sources, you may still miss the mark and end up with an Emperor's New Clothes situation. When that happens, your reaction is crucial, as Cyphertite successfully demonstrated. No idea or logo or marketing campaign is perfect, but you can at least work to hopefully avoid a disaster by stepping away from your baby long enough to let someone else check it out and offer feedback.