Don’t Do What Pied Piper Did. Fictional or Not.

Silicon Valley (HBOMax) is a masterclass in branding. 

The show’s hero is a coding genius named Richard who developed a video compression software program written in C that achieves a Weissman score in the fives (apparently next to impossible to do).  He calls it “Pied Piper.”

In an episode early in the series, Pied Piper gains entry to the TechCrunch competition in San Francisco (this is a real thing, btw) and needs a logo.

Their newly-minted head of Public Relations, Erlich (a pot-smoking, coding wannabe who also owns the “hacker hostel” all the Pied Piper employees live in), comes up with, according to him, the best idea ever: To get one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists (and a convicted felon), Chuy Ramirez, to do the logo and give Pied Piper a “cool edge.”

Chuy agrees to do it because he thinks Dinesh, one of the coders along for the meeting, is Hispanic (he’s Pakistani, but Erlich doesn’t fess up). Chuy says this will cost a mere $10,000. Erlich lets his excitement get the better of him and agrees to pay the fee with what little money Pied Piper has.

Chuy is so pleased they’ve hired a “Hispanic” coder he decides to incorporate that into the logo. He arrives to paint the logo on the hacker hostel’s garage door, and what they get is a scene of a “Hispanic” Dinesh having, ahem, relations with the Statue of Liberty.

Even the crass, pot-smoking Erlich realizes this is not appropriate. But his revision suggestions make Chuy angry, and he edits the logo by making Dinesh Pakistani and painting Erlich’s face on the Statue of Liberty.

The neighbors call the cops, and the cops tell them they have to paint over their $10,000 logo (and to hide it, Richard raises the garage door only to reveal Erlich’s pot farm).

The truth is…

This isn’t too far from the truth for what I’ve seen many startup businesses do.

Your logo, branding, and design make visual statements about your company. But here’s the thing most people don’t understand: Your logo and design are not for you.

It’s about what will appeal to your target market.

Yes, it’s important that you love your branding, but hiring a professional is the way to get to the best of both worlds. Someone who has proven design and branding skills (aka they have the training and a portfolio of work they’ve done for paying clients).

The key to a logo’s effectiveness isn’t cutesy creativity. Instead, it’s simplicity and clarity. And those can be challenging for even the most talented designers to accomplish.

If you take your business seriously, you will hire a professional to work with you to design something that will help you attract your target market. To keep it clean, clear, and effective.

I see many more bad logos than good ones. Because simplicity is not easy.

Too many times, I see everything but the kitchen sink thrown into one little logo and the public left to decipher what the heck it all means. And this means the public will never connect to it because they won’t spend the energy to try to figure out what your business is all about. 🤷🏼‍♀️

A bad logo will make your marketing efforts much more challenging for that very reason.

Remember: A good logo will cost you. A bad logo will cost you more.

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