Sunday, February 24, 2008

What makes a great brand logo?

Before we even discuss any of the creative aspects of a logo let's see how your logo works with your existing brand. Assuming you know what your brand values and personalty is, you are going to want your brand logo to reflect these attributes. These two elements would help set the tone of the brand logo.

Who is your logo speaking to? Male, female? Young or old or somewhere in the middle? At a gut level how do you want your prospective customers to react to seeing your logo for the first time? Do you want to be perceived as an older established firm? Maybe, you need to relate a younger skew. How young? What are their trigger points?

How is the brand logo to be used? Is it appearing on large vehicles? Will it have to look great on a postage stamp or pen? What other physical restrictions must be considered?

When is the projected launch date for the new brand image?

Now we can get creative. Base the logo colours and themes on things that differentiate you in you market. Take into consideration colour trends and colour pshycology. Are the any colour triggers to consider? Ie: The Chinese reverence for red.

Choosing fonts properly to reflect the brand personality mentioned earlier. Make sure that you hire a professional who understand why the things mentioned here are important to developing an effective visual solution that will make you money. Actual creativity is truly in the mind of the designer. Being a qualified design professional, this person have the insight and skills to deliver an image that reflects your brand. Remember the brand shouldn't reflect the logo - but the logo SHOULD reflect the brand.

I BELIEVE that you should not request a rational to explain the logo. Your buying audience doesn't have this luxury so why do you need one? You should get it or not.

When I typically present a new logo I enjoy the initial reaction from the customer. I believe they must love it straight away. They are marrying this image so they must be satisfied from the outset. I don't try to talk them into it. If the fit isn't there we move on. Designing logos is one of the most interesting things a designer works with. It can be the seed that inspires everything else. It becomes the face of your brand.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What is your Impression of Graphic Designers?

Graphic Designers. They are the talented people who bring your marketing materials to life. They are the people responsible for selling your products or services from a visual perspective. They are communications experts.

Those are my words. How do you feel towards graphic designers? What if any are their value to you? I am asking this question to assist a young design professional over in Ireland who is doing a paper on the subject. I offered to help because honestly it interests me. It will help gage the perception of the graphic design brand from the viewpoint of a business audience. If you use the services of graphic designers, do you feel they are worth what you pay them? Many companies, do a lot of their graphic design in-house. The work is usually assigned to administrative or IT staff, (this would include website deign). Has it ever crossed your mind to get this done by a professional? If not, why not?

To sum up - if you could spare a few moments - tell us what you think of graphic designers, you'd be helping a young student with valuable real-world research.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How Branding is Relevant in a Slow Economy

If you understand your brand and are passionate about it, then you have a better than average chance to weather the storm of a slow economy or recession. If you've been addressing brand issues and have built your company on values that are rock solid, then there is every reason that you will come out smiling at the other end of this down-turn.

Take myself - I rely heavily on referrals to grow my business. To even hope to benefit from the value of a good referral, my brand has to be like a shiny nickel. Brand being reputation, I continually do what I can to drive home the message that my service is as good an offering as it can be. I have to continually grow my list of contacts and tirelessly try and get my message out there. I've found that blogging is an exceptional tool in this regard.

A referral brings a smile to my face, not only for the obvious benefit of potential new business, for the fact that an individual felt good enough of my brand to recommend me to a trusted peer. Nobody goes out on a limb and refers someone who may bring disrepute back on them. We all want to make sure that our network of businesses are professionals who will do an outstanding job for those seeking their services. This quality result reflects back on the individual who gave the referral as a person who is connected to quality people.

While business is challenged to a huge degree during an economic slowdown, if your brand is strong and focused, you will have much to build on. Even a small independent retailer, has a better than average chance if their brand stands for something that differentiates them.Success does breed success, and if in your market, that retailer brand is considered a leader, then what income is disposable will be steered their way first. It is then up to that company to recognize the opportunity and make the bold move to over-deliver on the services desired. Smaller companies are flatter than large competitors and therefore can twist and turn faster to take advantage of these opportunities. Nothing is of course guaranteed, but a strong brand makes your battle easier.

Every positive experience reflects on your brand. Don't take any chance meeting for granted. I can't tell you the number of times I've dragged my butt to an event that I was reluctant to attend only to get into a passionate discussion on branding and develop a new lead. Listening to businesses explain the hardships they suffer at the hands of a slowing economy gives me resolve to stay positive and to spread that positive vibe when ever I can. How you face your challenges speaks to the power of your brand.

If your brand is weak, it is time you put concentrated effort into shoring it up. Don't delude yourself into thinking that what I am talking about is changing your logo and slogan. As a matter of fact ignore those items. They have cache. Concentrate on your reputation. Get your face out there. Contact past customers and show that your brand is still relevant. There is nothing that I am suggesting that is rocket science, as a matter of fact it is things that is in every book on sales out there. The fact of the matter is, if your brand is weak, it is because in the course of doing business - it got lazy! You relied too heavily on technology to deliver service and forgot the basics.

It's time to make your brand shine again. Get out there and tell your story. Tell them them all why you are relevant, and why you matter. Make your brand the best it can be.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

10 Key Questions to consider in Developing an Effective Brand Logo.

My background is that of a graphic designer. Being in the industry for over 25 years, I have developed several hundred logos. As a matter of fact it is something I never tire of doing. After all of that time you come to recognize that many companies don't take full advantage of all the opportunities that come with designing a brand logo that accurately reflects their brand AND differentiates them. Most other graphic designers (or less) design logos based on personal taste and colour psychology - and that's it. Shame.

When I meet a new customer and we discuss the brand logo that is needed, I try and get to the heart of what the intended goal of the image is. Some of the investigation covers items such as:

1) What does the company do?

The logo has to reflect the industry. You don't want to have an image that is too artistic for an industrial environment. It has to be that industry, provide a comfort level to it's audience.

2) How old a company do they wish to present?

This is important if they are in an industry that relies on trust such as a legal firm. The public wants to work with a firm that looks like they have the years of experience to handle the issues. If the company is an IT company, young and progressive are key attributes.

3) What are the colour opportunities to differentiate the company?

I like to choose colour based on what their competition is NOT using. Many in their industry play follow the leader or make obvious colour choices based solely on the psychology of colour. While this is a colour consideration it is the not the most important.

4) How will the logo be used?

Is the image just going on stationary and an outdoor sign? What about advertising specialties such as pens? How about large vehicles?
Useage is very important as it may limit you with regard to shape or complexity.

5) Are there an peculiarities that I can identify with the customer that would be a waste of time presenting to them?

As much as one of my mottos is: "I don't give them what they want - I give them what they need," there is nothing to be gained by beating a dead horse. Get these items off the drawing board immediately.

6) What is the demographic profile of the target audience?

There isn't much point in delivering a feminine brand image to a macho audience. As well, if the skew is young, don't deliver an image a 50 year old will relate to.

7) Are there any budget constraints?

If they are a start-up, it might be wise to design to a one or two colour palette. A logo with four colours, metallics and specialty colours may blow their socks off in the board room, but it will blow their tops off when they see the numbers to launch on printed materials. You have got to be practical.

8) Does the brand logo accurately reflect the brand personality of the company?

If the company is made up of young visionaries and all their staff are known within their industry as the brightest minds, the logo should reflect this.

9) Does the logo adhere to the company's brand values?

For the same reasons as the personality. Certain design styles can contradict a company's brand values. Since the values are the foundation of any company's brand, it vitally important to reflect those values in the design.

10) Does the log excite the customer?

Let's face it the company has to marry the design of their logo. The can't simply like it - they must love it. It must excite them, it should motivate them and make them proud.

These 10 items are part of what it takes to develop effective brand logos. Over the years, you work with countless situations that hone your design and sales skills. Essentially I see myself and the customer as a team. We are looking to develop a solution that sells. I do not look at designing logos as art. It is selling visually, pure and simple. When the intended audience views one of my logos, I hope that they correctly visualize the company it represents. When this happens it is a compliment to it's brand and to myself, which I take very seriously.
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