One of the greatest confidence tricks in modern design took place last week when the International Olympic Committee unveiled the logo for the 2012 London games – sparking widespread derision and criticism.

burningpants may be about financial services but compulsion drove one of its scribes to post this article for what after all is one of, if not the, biggest money spinning event in the world.

So what is a good logo? A good logo creates clarity, emotion and ideas – it symbolizes an ideal.

The London Olympic Games Committee is reported to have dusted US$800,000 dollars on this logo, which makes the outcome seem even more farcical and frankly somewhat surprising, when you consider the genesis of some of the world’s greatest and most emotive logos.

Caroline Davidson charged $35 for the Nike logo in 1976, the Coca Cola logo was designed from the clean penmanship of the company’s then book keeper, while the Apple logo was the result of a weekend’s work of a designer call Rob Janoff – how much Janoff’s design company charged for it is not recorded – but given Apple was being run from a garage at the time, its seems unlikely it was a big spend.

Getting a logo right is important – but what’s interesting about brands is that for all the money financial services companies spend on them – there isn’t a financial services company in the top 10 world brand values list.

These are, in order of estimated value;

Coca Cola, Microsoft, IBM, GE (which does have some finance capability), Intel, Nokia, Walt Disney, McDonalds and Marlboro cigarettes.

Over the past decade there have been some interesting exits and falls from the list – Marlboro has plummeted from third to last while Kodak, one of the steadfast members of the list since the 1970’s, has now disappeared.

There is no doubt some people dispute the value of brands and logos altogether – suggesting all success stems from the right product and the right sales team.

Yes, that is true, but there are three things worth pointing out.

The first is that Harley Davidson – not even among the world’s top ten brands – makes $64 million a year from licensing its brand to other companies.

The second thing is that brands affect the decision making of even the most rational people.

This was reinforced to us at burningpants last week after flicking through one of our favourite reads – the Scientific American.

Thumbing through the magazine we noted the magazine was brimful of advertisements for high end products, including Mont Blanc (a dead brand re-invigorated by a manufacturing company in the late 1970’s).

This suggests even scientists, the most right side of the brain thinkers – those groups whose rational decision making far overwhelms there emotional decision making – are a sucker for a brand.

The third test is our favourite.

Imagine you are to start a car company – and you are offered a choice of two things – use of the Toyota brand or the Toyota manufacturing plant – which asset would bring you success first?

Hmm, tough choice.

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