Developing a Logo for Your Business

ebay logosThere is a lot to consider when developing a logo for your business. What is the purpose of a logo?

Thinking it through before getting someone to start designing is one of the keys to developing a logo that works for your business.

Most companies use a logo as symbol for a brand. It usually has the company name together with an icon and the company colors. Sometimes it is just type, or just initials.  Often the type is a unique typeface, artwork that is solely the companies own.

Sometimes the icon dominates the logo.  Depending on the amount of marketing dollars put behind a logo, it may become a strong symbol for the company.  If it is not used consistently, the impact is weakened.

How do you ensure your logo is used consistently?  Through the use of a branding style guide. Sometimes they are as simple as a few pages, outlining colors, typeface, vertical, horizontal and black & white versions.  Sometimes a brand style guide may be almost a book, offering every example of background treatment, what NOT to do and providing the amount of white space between any other elements on the page, website and package.

In my experience, a short style guide is very helpful, but only companies that are licensing their product and having many many graphic designers and others using their logo need to go into a huge amount of detail. And often the people using the style guide are visual communicators, so having visual examples is often more helpful than lots and lots of paragraphs of copy that sometimes is open to interpretation.

To get started with developing a logo, it is helpful to provide direction to the designer that helps them to understand how you want to portray your brand. Make a list of words. Gathering samples of logos that you like and don’t like also helps. Especially if you can articulate what you like and don’t like about your samples.  In marketing agency terms, this is know as a creative brief.  It sets the tone and manner, provides examples of how the logo will be used and offers direction to the creative professionals who will be developing your company’s symbol.

Some find it helpful to talk about feelings – what customers, employees and users of the product/service are likely to feel or how you want them to feel.  You’ll definitely want to focus on your target market, but logos also are important for others who are part of your business: employees, your vendors, and investors.

It’s easy to get carried away and find that you’re actually trying to recreate something else that you’ve seen and liked.  Don’t end up with a logo that looks like your competitors! While imitation can be viewed as a compliment, being confused with your competitors is not.

I find it is important to provide plenty of input to the designer and talk about colors as well.

If the company will be using the logo predominately on company vans, work shirts and baseball caps, the font and size of lettering with icons needs to be thick enough to read from a driving distance or walking distance.

If most of the interactions with the company logo will be on a mobile phone via a website or an app held at a distance closer than arms length, then a different direction may make sense.

While you hope to develop a logo that will work “forever” for your brand, obviously times change, style and technology affects the logos.  You’ll want to consider a refresh to your company logo if/when it becomes dated.

If you wait too long to refresh your brand and logo, it may be a total “redo” instead of just a minor update.

Where do you go to get a new logo?

Many people go to inexpensive websites like Fiverr, Logotournament or 99designs.  This can be helpful in that they are cheap, but difficult if you’ve never given direction or developed a logo before.

Rather than go immediately to one of the cheap websites and hire a nameless, faceless designer, I’d recommend spend more time developing a creative brief. There are several samples of creative briefs here, here and here.  Read through these examples and then put together your own brief, before approaching a graphic designer or going to a design website.

It’s kind of like making an investment in a stock portfolio for your retirement by buying direct from an investment website, without using a investment broker with experience.  You may do just fine and be ready to brag about how much money you saved and earned, but then again, you may find that a little bit of knowledge can be a problem and want to be redoing your logo within a few months.

Sometimes working directly with a designer is the best thing, other times, you will fair better by going through someone who is great at giving creative direction.

If you find yourself saying something like “just…” or  “I’ll know it when I see it” – then you are not the right person to give creative direction.

More detail is actually more helpful in getting initial direction. Having the parameters before you start  makes it much more likely that a graphic designer will create something you’re looking for, than direction that says, “why don’t you be creative and I’ll pick the one I like the best.” Later when faced with a wide variety of styles, you find yourself combining different elements to mush together a logo.

Again, not the best way to go about designing your company’s symbol.

Having a well defined creative brief makes it much easier for YOU TOO!

Review the brief before you review the initial logos that the creative graphic designer submits. It will help you to evaluate it and will give you a guide to providing good feedback when faced with a variety of choices.

Evaluating the logo is definitely a skill as well as providing feedback to the designer. You’ll be tempted to show the samples to lots of people – your spouse, a friend, employees. Of course everyone has an opinion, but some opinions count more than others.

Good luck with your logo development.  Let me know you found this helpful or if you think I forgot something along the way by leaving a comment below.

 

 

 

Portraying Advertising, Marketing as the Bad Guys

A love story 4 minute animation from Chipotle Mexican Grill to launch their new marketing campaign.
A love story 4 minute animation from Chipotle Mexican Grill to launch their new marketing campaign.

I just watched the 4 minute Chipotle animation that launches their new marketing strategy.  It was just posted about 2 months ago and has 7 million views. After a week, it had 4 million views.

It’s about business competitors trying to out do each other and ends as a love affair with sensible food.

Is the point of this video that marketing, advertising and promotion helps you to lose site of your values?  In this video the marketing and advertising influences are portrayed as the villain in the story.

Portraying Advertising as the Cause

Marketing is demonized by plenty of people, not just this video.  Is it really the fault of marketing?!?!

Is marketing the problem with the fast food industry? Marketing made them put food additives into the food?

Maybe I’m missing something, but I never thought the problems at Chipotle were about excessive advertising and marketing.

Their website outlines the outbreaks in 2015 in a very straightforward crisis communications manner. Social media has rumors of an unscrupulous conspiracy designed to give them a bad name.

Maybe I missed something. Was there a secret love affair gone bad that caused the rumors (or fact) of health problems due to food?

Are they trying to redirect and blur their story?

Is this love story actually the story of how Chipolte was founded?

What is the strategy behind this animation?

Obviouly I have more questions than answers about this subject.

I originally wrote this post a few days after the short video was released, but didn’t publish it. I waited because I thought I might figure it out. Instead, I’m throwing this out to my readers to explain it to me. 

What’s the deal with this… I just don’t get it? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Why Does Your Website Need SPEED?

GTmetrix analyzing Branding and Marketing
GTmetrix tells you what is good about your website load speed and where you need improvement,

Fast! Websites have to load FAST!

Why is it so important to have your website load quickly?

Many people will click away if they don’t see it right away.

Maybe even more importantly, part of Google’s algorithm is connected to how fast your pages load.

What makes it load slowly? There can be a whole host of things (including your host) but it’s often the photos or your formatting.

One of the sessions I attended at WordCamp Columbus was led by Tom Cottrill who presented on “Satisfying the Need for Speed – Making WordPress as Fast as Possible.”

You can see what my website needs to fix!!
You can see what my website needs to fix!!

One  diagnostic resource that he mentioned that  I found especially helpful was GTmetrix because you can enter your website, then it will tell you how fast the site loads and diagnose what needs to be fixed.

There was lots of great data and examples.

Another suggestion that Tom had was for those who have sites with lots of photos.  Tom suggests you consider using Optimizilla to change the size of the images or maybe even host your images on a CDN – a Content Delivery Network. He suggested AmazonS3 , CloudFlare  or JetMax.

By hosting your visuals outside your site, your visuals will get pulled into your website which will allow it to load much more quickly than actually hosting them in your media library.

First Comes Marketing Strategy

30 models of marketing strategySo often I’ll get a request from a company representative for a price on execution of a piece of marketing. A Facebook page. A website. Maybe a PDF brochure or a prospecting email.

All of these items are fine on their own. Marketing Tactics. A marketing tool that helps support marketing results.

But alone, without being in support of a goal, the tactic simply doesn’t work.

Marketing Strategy Must Come First!

If you don’t have your strategy planned out, you will just do things and wonder why it doesn’t have the intended results.

So what is strategy? Many people ask me that. Personally I like to talk about the 4 M’s of marketing. It’s not the same as the 4P’s of marketing.

Today I wanted to link to a website that has many different marketing strategies. Ways to approach the marketing. No one way is correct and the others wrong, but it helps to understand the concepts behind these strategies.

I share this link to Marketing Strategies because it’s a great starting point. This page has 30 different methods, concepts and models of marketing strategies.  Notice each one of these models and concepts are not talking about your social media tactics in your Instagram or Snapchat account, or the color of your logo or how you’ll blast out this email content? No, these strategies are talking about the foundation of the marketing… the why, not the how.

There is definitely a difference between strategy and tactics.

Marketing and Branding can be a Thousand Little Things – But It Goes Beyond That!

Filming my segment of Grow Your Business Cleveland marketing branding thousand
Filming my segment of Grow Your Business Cleveland

Often when I talk about making a difference with your marketing, it’s focused on the BIG PICTURE. Going after the right target market. Finding a strong compelling message that repeatable and memorable. Using cost effective media that helps to influences your target market. Or measuring your marketing efforts for the maximum sales impact.

Marketing and branding can be a thousand little things, all in support of the big picture. It can be the way you answer the phone, return calls promptly or smile when you shake someone’s hand. Or not. Failing to take care of the little things can impact the big things.

Often it is the little things that people remember. Kindness. Sincerity. Optimism. Actually, maybe those are the big things. Bigger than marketing.

Last spring I got to participate in a program that involved interns. We all know that internships can make all the difference in launching a career and I’m heartened when I see a good program in action.

I’m reminded of this again when I watched the recent recap of an internship experience of several Spring Interns that I had the opportunity to meet as part of a business professional series that I participated in for Grow Your Business Cleveland. Watching this video gave me the same optimistic feeling I had the day we worked on and filmed my portion of the video. Being around interns who are the beginning of their career is refreshing.

The interns made me feel relaxed and confident. They had great ideas for elaborating about different areas of my segment and I enjoyed working with them to create my tips. The video also reminded me that video plays in important role in telling your business story. It seems to bring the story to life much more than just a photo or the written word.

Video is just one of the thousand little things that contribute to the overall marketing program. But working with people who are kind, sincere and optimistic takes it over the top. Thanks for this experience!