Following up on last week’s blog post, What To Look For In A Logo, I just wanted to add a couple more tips about how to embark on a logo design project. These tips are not for the designer who, presumably, is already well aware of them. Rather, they’re for the person who is hiring the designer. They’re just a couple of ideas that designers’ clients should have in mind while writing a creative brief for a logo. To ensure your designer sets off on the right path, you need to give him or her a set of criteria to design to. These criteria fall into two categories: generic and specific. The creative brief will include more information than just that, to be sure. General analyses of competitors’ logos are just one example of other information it will contain. But, for this short post, we’re looking only at the generic and specific criteria necessary to any successful logo design.
In recent years, I’ve been completely obsessed with brand strategy. When I see anything – a business, a product, a service, an event, anything – I’m immediately consumed with thoughts about how that thing might be differentiated, how it might be positioned in a way to exploit its competitive advantage over the competition. I’m always interested in the business case to be made for that positioning. But I wasn’t always so obsessed. When I was a teenager, it was the symbol of the brand, the logo, that captured my attention. And I wasn’t even curious about the meaning of logos. My only fascination was with their graphic form. Again and again, I would try to draw the four logos shown here. For example, I would try to get the bluntness of the Playboy bunny’s snout just right and carefully locate the forward positioning of its eye. I’d try to mimic the exact angles, graceful curves and precise attachments of its ears. I’d painstakingly replicate the negative space around the bow tie. But, at some point, I started to look beyond my admiration of these really great graphic designs. I started wondering about what these things called logos were supposed to be. I started wondering about their purpose or use. What are they for?
Not long ago, I had a handyman at the house and, after looking around, he said, “I see you’re not afraid of color.” I had to smile. No. I’m not actually afraid of color. That’s an irrational fear. Color does not put me at risk. You know what I fear? Drunk drivers, because they’re everywhere and can really hurt you. But color? Sorry, I don’t feel threatened. And yet I know of one retail establishment with an interior that’s all black and white and silver because the owner claims to be “afraid of color”. What she means is she’s afraid of making the wrong choice in color, apparently, not realizing how easy it is to change a color if it doesn’t work out as intended. I’ve also come across people who are “afraid of branding”. What they mean is they’re afraid of going through the branding process, fearful that it might reveal some inconvenient truth about the brand that will be difficult to face.
A couple years ago, in a roomful of branding specialists, a friend and colleague of mine addressed those assembled. He asked us to imagine Tiffany’s iconic blue box. He said, when you give that blue box to your loved one, you’re giving all the values and standards that go along with it, you’re giving all the brand equity that Tiffany has built up over the years. “That blue box … that’s the promise … that’s the brand.” I thought my friend made a good point, as far as it went. But I couldn’t help thinking that there had better actually be a Tiffany ring in that box. Any thing less – Cubic Zirconia, for instance – and you would have been better off if you had never made the promise in the first place. Most smart people will tell you that the need to actually keep the brand promise should need no mention. It should just go without saying. I respectfully disagree. Keeping the promise takes genuine dedication and hard work. That’s where the heavy lifting of brand building really takes place – and I think I can show that by making two important points.
Branding is the platform from which every successful marketing campaign is launched. Any marketing effort that hopes to be on target needs a well-designed brand strategy behind it. When you devise your brand strategy, you’re actually making a business case for why your business, product, service, event, campaign or project – whatever it is – should be positioned in a particular way. You’re sleuthing out your true competitive advantage, the reason your market will want to walk right past your competitors and knock on your door. And, just like a political party runs on a platform and that platform is made up of declared policies called planks, so is the brand strategy defined by a set of declarations – also called planks. But what are these planks in the brand platform? And how does that platform support my marketing? How does it make it better? More effective?
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Best Branding Reads
Week of June 19, 2017
B-to-B companies are investing more in branding, and for good reason
Because they’re under constant pressure to commoditize, B2B companies need good branding more than ever.
From Contraband To Desired Brand
Look out. Brand disruption is targeting the cannabis business. Big changes coming soon.
How the Cubs’ Marketing Evolved as the Team Went From ‘Lovable Losers’ to World Series Champs
Winning totally disrupted the Cubs’ brand. Here’s how their marketing team handled it.
Thomas Ordahl. Keynote speaker. Brite conference 2017.
Absolutely brilliant thinking on what’s next for brands. Required weekend viewing for all brand builders.
Fanta’s Clever New Bottle Looks Fresh Squeezed, and Was Brutal to Design
More on packaging as experience. Fanta really put their designers through the wringer.
Taco Bell Brings Boozy Cantina Concept to Cleveland
The 6th such location now. Glen Bell would be proud his brand is still evolving.
AI and Branding
Artificial Intelligence – the brand manager’s foe or ally?