Logo Design and Your Bottom Line – Reaching Your Target Audience
Whether it’s in government or marketing, there’s a constant dynamic at play — people want to see change, and with it, progress. Consider the new mayor or the freshly-hired advertising executive: they arrive at their new position and immediately want to put their mark on things.
That’s a blessing and a curse. Fresh energy can breathe new life into a struggling company. But if the current way of doing things has been working pretty well, why fix what isn’t broken? It’s harder to repeal a new law than it is to put it into place. The same goes for branding.
Take what happened around last year’s holidays with Coca-Cola, for example. The company released a holiday promotional can with good intentions; the white cans would raise money to protect polar bears. Consumers saw red, however, voicing immediate confusion over the similarity between the new can and the classic Diet Coke labeling. When complaints rolled in (including one diabetic who accidently drank the sugary version), Coke quickly switched back to the red can.
It’s a problem Coca Cola’s main competitor has faced for years. Without ever establishing a logo as recognizable as Coke’s ribbon, Pepsi has floundered between logo redesigns for over a century. Neither the lettering font nor the red, white, and blue ball have stayed consistent, and Pepsi has remained the second runner up in the soda market.
Another Pepsi product, Tropicana, experienced a similar near disaster in 2009. Following the latest marketing trends, the orange juice manufacturer dropped their straw-in-the-citrus logo in favor of a minimalist design. Confused consumers moved to other brands, and Tropicana quickly made the switch back.
Even if your company is a small, localized start-up, the same principles that affect these giant corporations apply to your marketing strategy. Whether you’re just starting out or considering a redesign of your company branding, consider these points before putting in that order for 5,000 t-shirts and mugs with the new logo.
- Simplify, Simplify
This is a biggie. Their products are not the only reason Apple and Nike succeed. When you see the Swoosh or the bitten apple, you know exactly what the symbol represents. Of course, becoming ubiquitous takes more than just a logo, but it’s the first and most important step. (Apple has actually simplified their logo progressively over the years, reducing their rainbow-striped design to today’s silver sheen).
- Forget the Kodachrome
Apologies to Paul Simon on ditching the Kodachrome, but your logo is the face of your company. That means you’ll want to put it on promotional material, business cards, and clothing. You’ll save a lot of money if your logo is reproducible with just one or two colors (not to mention the times where it’s printed on black-and-white paper by default). Make sure your design can be replicated without requiring the full color spectrum, or you’ll pay dearly for it down the road.
- Value Stick-to-itiveness
Maybe your company is not doing as well as you’d hoped it would. Desperate for a boost in sales, you or your partners decide it’s time for a complete revamp of your branding. Not so fast! First, consider the loyal customers that you do have. What do they think of your logo? Think about the backlash Coke and Tropicana took for switching up their image and consider whether you can weather a decrease in your figures before a rise.
Don’t discount the value of customer loyalty. Before you make a switch, take a survey, even an informal one. Chances are, unless your logo is particularly unmemorable, people already associate it with your business. Leaving behind your branding legacy should only be done after careful consideration.
- Target Your Customers, but Think Universally
Here’s a scenario: Let’s say that you own a pet grooming business. You also love surfing, so you hire a designer to create a logo of a dog on a surfboard. It’s cute, memorable, and your friends love it. The only problem is, your business is located just outside of a high-end gated resort community. The residents are wealthy, and your business is the most convenient place for them to take their pets.
Unfortunately, the community’s city council has been getting a lot of pressure from this neighborhood’s residents to ban skateboarding. More than a few disgruntled would-be residents saw your logo, assumed you were ‘one of those kids,’ and went to the groomer a mile down the road with the simple, elegant logo.
So what’s the lesson here? Think through all the repercussions of your logo before approving it, and shoot for something that bears no social connotation at all. Everyone loves a smiling dog (at least any potential customer of a grooming business would).
Have you ever changed your logo or created one from scratch? What tips do you have for someone just getting started on a company branding?
Christopher Wallace, VP of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing promotions, has more than 20 years experience in sales and marketing. At Amsterdam, a leading provider of custom pens, mugs, and other personalized items such as imprinted clothing and customized calendars, Christopher is focused on providing quality marketing materials to small, mid-size and large businesses.