Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Instant Recognizability!

I’d like to follow up on the Branding article I wrote last week. I’ll begin by re-iterating that it’s all about creating an image, an identity, and sticking with it. I’d like to focus on one certain part of that, step three, “Get a Logo”

I want to go there because I found a great article on logo creation and use, by Jared McCarthy. It’s part of a series, and it’s got some good information. It inspired me to share some of my own thoughts and experiences.

A lot of people misinterpret the nature and need for a logo. Some people blow it off entirely. The don’t see the value in spending a ton of money for pictures. Others seem to change their logos as often as they change their shirts. Neither approach is effective.

A logo is a graphic representation of your company, and your product. It’s an expression that will help set you apart from everyone else. It’s not your brand, but it’s a part of the branding process. It’s a big part of what makes people think of you and remember you.

Some examples of the power of logo branding: When you’re driving down the street at about lunchtime, you look up and you see a sign with two yellow arching humps, making the letter “M”. Instantly you think of McDonalds, and you think hamburgers.

When you see five interlocking rings, you think of the Olympics.

These logos work for two reasons. One, they are very simple. Two, we’ve all seen them a lot already. They are instantly recognizable, and they’ve been branded. They’ve been drilled into our consciousness by constant exposure.

Most beginning web businesspeople that I deal with haven’t yet thought far enough ahead to create a logo. And that’s OK. Because a lot of thought has to happen before a logo is made. If the preparatory decisions are not made, the logo could well end up being detrimental to the business.

If you’ll take a look at last week’s article, you’ll see that the logo was step #3. The first two were to get a USP (Unique Selling Position) and a name. If you don’t have those two, making a logo will be cart-before-the-horse stuff. Have a clear vision of what the company is all about, then you’ll be in a better position to represent it visually.

The McCarthy article stresses simplicity, and I can’t reinforce that enough. It has to be clear and simple. Shapes. Words. These things are instantly recognizable. It also needs to represent the products and the company. When I was doing music production full-time, a designer friend of mine created a logo for Hansen Productions. It was an angled letter H (representing the company name) with a musical note in the middle (representing the product). It was clear and simple, made of lines and shapes.

Simplicity also made sure that it worked effectively in many different circumstances. It worked in black and white on my letterhead. It worked very tiny on the covers of the cassettes and CD’s I produced. It worked very large, in color, on T-shirts.

McCarthy goes on and also explains the impact colors can have. Colors are often associated with various moods and expressions.

  • Black: seriousness, distinctiveness, boldness, power, sophistication, tradition
  • Blue: authority, dignity, security, faithfulness, heritage, corporate stability, trust
  • Brown/gold: history, utility, earthiness, richness, tradition, conservative
  • Gray/silver: somberness, authority, practicality, corporate mentality, trust
  • Green: tranquility, health, freshness, stability, appetite
  • Orange: fun, cheeriness, warm exuberance, appetite, speed
  • Pink: femininity, innocence, softness, health, youth
  • Purple: sophistication, spirituality, wealth, royalty, youth, mystery
  • Red: aggressiveness, passion, strength, vitality, fear, speed, appetite
  • White/silver: purity, truthfulness, faith, contemporary, refined, wealth
  • Yellow: youth, positive feelings, sunshine, cowardice, refinement, caution, appetite

Where can you get a logo made? There are lots of great designers on the net. Go to any search engine and look. You can end up spending a lot of money, though, so be careful. Another option would be to contact a local trade school or community college. Many of them have graphic design departments, and many students will do good work for less money in order to fill their portfolios with actual work experience.

Whether you hire a student, a seasoned professional, or even if you do the work yourself, a little knowledge can be a real benefit to getting what you want.

Remember, this is what you’ll be using to identify your business and your products for the rest of the life of that business. It’s not to be taken lightly

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