With all the uproar as of late, regarding the new Instagram logo it got us thinking: how useful is a logo, anyway? Have any of us ever made a purchase solely on the logo alone? Unless you’re a design snoot like we are, the answer is, most likely, no.

A logo, in-and-of-itself can only harm you; it can hurt you if it’s bad, obvious junk. The big things: pixelation, awful colors, misspellings, inconsistencies, looking dated or generally looking less professional when compared to your competitors. Or my personal pet-peeve: putting “LLC” or “INC” after your logo. I feel like this just says “look at me, I’m a real company see?”  If your logo has any of those things, then sure, get it fixed, quickly, because it’s hurting your brand.

But can a logo in-and-of-itself help you? Not really.

Think of a logo in your head, what comes to mind? Apple? Nike? Coke? If they didn’t, keep thinking, they will. Did you think of them because they are particularly well-designed? Or, did you think of them because you remember the story the logo represents. You like Apple’s logo because they’re advertising has generally been fantastic. Now take Microsoft's logo. What do you think? It’s okay. Because their advertising has been hit or miss.

A logo without a story does nothing for your brand. It’s like a salesman in a well-dressed suit that doesn’t speak.

Now, take this Instagram controversy. Their old logo looked dated, but was it causing users to leave? Was it causing users to not use the app? No. There is such a disdain anytime a business updates their logo because it’s a change nobody asked for. Users don’t like change. People don’t like change.

I will say that the trend of simplification in logo design is popular for the simple reason that these marks have to function and make sense in more environments than ever before. Creating a logo that’s just a few lines and a few shapes makes life easier when it has to look the same on a phone and a billboard. I would imagine that their old logo made that tough. For my money though, the Instagram typeface is beautiful. They should have just gone to that, but they never asked me.

Next time you’re considering that big logo update—just because—think about what story you’re trying to tell instead. A new logo is really exciting to you, but chances are nobody cares (unless you’re Instagram or Gap). The whole point of a logo is to create a shorthand that means something.

Otherwise it’s just an excuse to practice Illustrator techniques.