There is a minor kerfuffle going on the the marketing world, where Exxon Mobil is suing the new cable network FXX for co-opting the interlocking X pattern of their logo.

On its surface, this appears to be quite stupid. A spokesperson for the cable network even poked fun at the lawsuit:
“We are confident that viewers won’t tune into FXX looking for gas or motor oil and drivers won’t pull up to an Exxon pump station expecting to get ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.'”
fxxexxonAt first glance, I thought it was a little ridiculous myself. But looking closer, there really isn’t much that differentiates these two logos, aside from the color scheme, and the products they represent. And even at that level, who among us hasn’t picked up a mix tape or two when gassing up in the middle of nowhere? I still rock out to my “Heaven & Hell 80’s Metal Hits” album from time to time. So, yes, a gas station can compete in the entertainment field.

More than that, though, is the simple fact that logos matter.

Think about Apple, Nike and Mercedes. I’m sure you didn’t have to dig too deep into your cortex to pull up those logos. Better yet, let the agents courting Vinny Chase tell you about it.

Having participated in a fair number of new business pitches, I always found this scene from Entourage to be pretty spot on. Invariably, we always end up with a slide that has Coke, Apple, etc. with a final spot for the client’s logo. Every big brand imagines themselves in that pantheon, and Exxon is no different.

Those plucky designers in Cupertino have spent vast fortunes to make you forget the Beatles once owned the half-eaten apple as a brand extension. The execs at Exxon don’t want to layout the cash to remind you they connected X’s first.

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