In 1927, Arthur R. Kelly designed a magnificent, Gothic-Tudor style, 22,000 square foot mansion in the Holmby Hills of Los Angeles. He designed the house for Arthur Letts, Jr., the son of a rich guy. Shortly after it was built, the house was acquired by Louis D. Statham, a famous engineer, inventor, and chess master. Statham lived there until 1971, when he sold it to a magazine publisher from Chicago named Hugh Marston Hefner. At that moment, this mansion became one of the most iconic homes in American pop culture – known for boozy parties, celebrities, and naked women. A symbol of style, leisure, and excess.
What does the Playboy Mansion have to do with logos?
If you’ve ever moved, you know that it’s a stressful transition. Even if your new place is perfect, it’s still different. It’s change. Different size, different features. And until you move in, it’s really just a bunch of walls and floors. It’s not until you hang your pictures on the walls, arrange your furniture, paint, lay down rugs, have a party, etc. that this new house becomes your home. Until 1971, 10236 Charing Cross Road was just another Hollywood mansion. When Heff moved in and made himself at home, the place became what we know today.
Your logo is the same. How you use it determines its meaning. Your employees, actions, and values breathe life into this symbol.
That being said, a logo must have purpose and intent. It must represent your identity and position in your industry. It must be specific and simple. It’s important to choose the right symbol.
In the same way, Heff chose wisely. He didn’t move into a condo in Nebraska. He moved into a freakin’ Hollywood mansion.
This logo is not going to be a magic bullet.
Be careful and thoughtful in your judgment, but don’t let minutia hold you back. This logo is not going to be a magic bullet. In fact, it’s only the first – and relatively small – step in your brand’s evolution. It will need care. It will need updates or else it will grow stale and start to decay. Kind of like a house.
Think about the meaning you want to put behind your logo. The ways that you and your team will cultivate that meaning. Give it a grotto, pepper it with peacocks, ban John Lennon from it, build in secret rooms.
A logo is only the first step. What you do from there is what matters. Because, like the Playboy Mansion, it can get old and weird if you leave it alone too long.