​I know how it is. You’re a big brand and you’ve simply grown accustomed to seeing your logo stamped everywhere: on TV, in the magazines, on your leather jacket, your coffee mug, your business card, jingling on your charm bracelet, tattooed across the flanks of your hypoallergenic cat. It’s reassuring. Your logo feels like … belongingness.

So now you’re halfway through the surprisingly complicated process of building an app and you feel unsettled. You and the rest of the top brass do like the direction things are going, but at the same time … something is missing. You flip through a printed-out .pdf of mocked-up screens in a desultory fashion, exhaling a noisy, discontented breath through pursed lips.

All of a sudden, it hits you. THIS APP NEEDS MORE LOGO. In fact, this app needs an instance of your logo on every single screen! You fire off an email to your developer with instructions to add the logo to the title bar EVERYWHERE. You also want people to be able to tap your logo to go back to the homepage. YES! This feels better! A smile flits across your face as you content yourself with the knowledge that you’ve really earned your paycheck on this one.

If life were more like a Dickens novel, at this point a semi-transparent ghost would come floating into your corner office and slap you in the face repeatedly. Upon capturing your full attention, the ghost would show you your dark future: a world where your logo appears in the title bar on every screen in your app and where all the little children run through the streets crying.

Then the ghost would show you another way. He’d whip out his semi-transparent ghost iPhone and show you a different version of your app where the title bar conforms to Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines (aka the HIG) and is actually informative; an app where the title bar contains THE ACTUAL TITLE OF THE SCREEN and the children (who had previously been running riot through the streets) quietly return to their homes to practice playing the piano. You’d find yourself thinking that this strange future felt calm, quiet, and orderly; that it was more like Switzerland.

Once the ghost had floated back out of your office, you would suddenly realize:

1. The point of your app is to provide value to users and simultaneously express the attributes of your brand. Fonts, color schemes, and transitions can do this as well as (if not better than) a logo most of the time.

2. People with amnesia and/or dementia may forget what app they’re using but they also often forget their own names.

3. Apps are a fundamentally different experience compared to websites (or should be). The way we design interactions for apps should be different from the way we handle websites.

4. Cramming your brand down someone’s throat while simultaneously making your app marginally more difficult to use is … shall I say … counterproductive.

In reality, however, life is not like a Dickens novel. There is no helpful, slappy ghost to conduct an intervention on behalf of app developers. To engineer a change of heart regarding logo abuse, said developers must rely on more conventional methods: begging, bribery, wheedling, cajoling, and empty threats.

So if you’ll excuse me, I really should get back to editing my wires. I’m working on including a logo in the title bar on every screen.

(originally published on BAD YEWEX)