BRANDING SERIES 01: THE LOGO LOW LOW
by: COOL Creative's Chief Brand Architect, Johanne Wilson
As a branding design house, COOL Creative has spent years developing powerful brand identities, branded marketing materials and strategies for both small businesses and large corporations. The process starts with an initial “vision meet” where we learn about the heart of the business, vision and mission. We ask tons of questions, listen, constructively challenge and sketch; all to infuse our hearts with inspiration so we can do work that MOVES people at their core... that's what we're all about. Recently, I sat in a business forum and one of the business owners asked about branding and how to go about getting theirs done. The speaker carelessly directed them to 99 designs, a logo design website that spits out cheap and generic logos. One of the most difficult things for us to hear is when people don't value the importance of great customized branding.
Your branding expresses is who you are. It is the soul and energy of your business, and your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services and it differentiates you from your competitors. Consistency is key to ensuring that people REMEMBER and RECOGNIZE your brand for as long as you are in existence. Branding involves all of the aspects of communicating the value of your business including: messaging, brand voice/tone, internal (your team) brand materials, externally (consumer) facing materials, web presence, social media content, brand essence videos, signage, corporate stationary and more.
THE FIRST STEP OF THE VISUAL BRANDING PROCESS IS DEVELOPING THE LOGO. Keep in mind that a logo is just PART of your branding. Below are some key points to the logo development process.
A logo is not a story
The biggest trap that people usually fall into is that, when developing a logo, they want to tell the entire history of their company in a 2” wide by 1” tall graphic. That is generally not what a logo meant to do. The more concise it is, the more impact it has. (Like all things, there are exceptions, but this tends to be the general rule of thumb.)
A great logo starts with research
Developing the branding for your business is a process. The process doesn't have to be overly complicated, but there are basic best practices to help ensure that brand identity is competitive, relevant and communicates effectively. We always start with a competitive audit. Our background working at P&G years ago taught us about the importance of doing these audits. Understanding the competitive landscape helps us to create a unique point of differentiation which informs our design work.
A logo is a label
A logo is a label, a two-second identifier for your brand – it’s like a person’s name. Your brand, on the other hand, is the experience. For instance, when you think of Apple, you don’t think of the logo, you think of their products, packaging, and the experience you have in a store.
As I mentioned, there are exceptions to the rule. Take FedEx. If you look at the E and X together, the white space in the middle is an arrow. That is intentional; that hidden meaning meant to show that they’re on the move and will get your stuff from Point A to Point B was put there on purpose. Wendy’s is another one – the necklace around Wendy’s neck forms the word MOM.
A logo expresses your brand's personality
Again, a logo captures the essence of your brand and quickly communicates your company's personality. Is it a serious brand? Playful? High-end?
There are five types of logos
Word marks: These use a distinct or custom typeface, like Bloomingdale’s
Symbols or icons: These can stand on their own, like Apple or the Nike swoosh, but you have to have a REALLY well established brand to get away with this using the symbol without the company name.
Letter marks: Again, these are for established brands, like GE, but a small business could use this as a tertiary brand identifier.
Combination: Combination logos use clip art with the company name, like Sprint.
Emblem: Starbucks is the best example of this. You’ll never see the name of the company by itself; it’s always within the mermaid design.
LOOK OUT FOR FUTURE POSTS ABOUT BRANDING IN THIS SERIES!
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