Category Archives: Rebranding

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.




Instagram Launches a New Logo

the new instagram-logo-colorful icon 5_2016the old instagram-logo-iconInstagram announced a new logo recently.  I’m wondering where all marketers will be scrambling to make the adjustments.

Is it shown on any of your printed material? (Hope not!) Do you use a list of social media icons linked to your social media accounts on your website or blog?

If so, are you using the “latest” Instagram logo? Well, better click thru your websites to make sure you’re plugin’s and social media icons are up to date!

Click here for branding information from Instagram Brand Resources.

Here’s how they announced their refreshed logo a couple of days ago. This is how they described it:

Today we’re introducing a new look. You’ll see an updated icon and app design for Instagram. Inspired by the previous app icon, the new one represents a simpler camera and the rainbow lives on in gradient form. You’ll also see updated icons for our other creative apps: Layout, Boomerang and Hyperlapse.

We’ve made improvements to how the Instagram app looks on the inside as well. The simpler design puts more focus on your photos and videos without changing how you navigate the app.

The Instagram community has evolved over the past five years from a place to share filtered photos to so much more — a global community of interests sharing more than 80 million photos and videos every day. Our updated look reflects how vibrant and diverse your storytelling has become.

I’ve seen a few very short videos on Imgur that make fun of the changes… I guess there are always folks that love to make fun of any changes.  Here is the “official” video on an account called Instagram on Vimeo makes the change look a bit more complicated.

Instagram Launches a New Logo With Simple Icon over Rainbow Colors

And I believe that this post explains a lot of the thought process that went into the new logo.

Pantone’s 2016 Color of the Year

As a marketing professional, I like to follow trends and color is certainly important in marketing. So I subscribe to Pantone’s email and look forward to learning about their new color announcement each year.

This past week the 2016 color of the year is actually two versions of blue and pink:

Pantone color of the year 2016

First impressions for me revolve around a baby’s room. Then I remembered back to the colors of the 70’s when dusty rose and cornflower blue seemed to be everywhere.

The color is certainly not as vibrant as the teals and florescents … or even the emerald shades that have been selected in other years. Whether you like it or not, you should be aware of it in the selection of your marketing colors.

You need to be aware of color trends in many situations: If you are adding skus to your product line If your product is needs to coordinate with other products as an accent. If you’re developing websites and need to be on trend. If you’re reviving your brand and updating the colors for a fresher more contemporary look.

Other articles about colors:

Your thoughts? Please leave a comment below.

What Does Your Meta Description Say About Your Company?

If you are a marketing professional in charge of the branding and marketing messages for your company, you’re probably acutely aware what your meta description says about your company.

You probably argued various versions with the “powers that be” and cajoled them into selecting a message that resonates with clear, compelling and memorable words.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Uh-Oh! Better go “google” a key phrase for your business and take a look.

Below is a screen capture of some meta descriptions. I’ve googled the phrase “chris brown marketing” and circled the meta descriptions in red to show you what I mean.

Google Your Meta Description

I’m talking about the 2 lines of copy that describes the webpage that was returned in the search results.

It’s the verbage that people read to decide if they should click on it or not.

I’ve also found that it can be very revealing for marketing positioning and when starting a online competitive review for a new client, I often start with a quick look at the competitor’s meta descriptions.

Don’t get me wrong. The title shown in blue, is very VERY important. You’ve probably set it up as the main keywords for your business… and for your business website, it’s probably your business name. But the title beyond the title is the meta description.

For the home page of a company it’s often what you’d want people to think and say about your company. Certainly what you’d want to tell them to get them to come visit your website.

Usually they only see these words when they search for information. But if you don’t conscientiously add a meta description, it automatically picks up the first 70 characters or so of the content on that page.

I recently tried it for “universities in Ohio” in preparation for a speech, I will be giving about creating positioning in branding for universities.

As you know, It’s a very difficult task to change the branding of a university. Alumni have strong feelings. Current students and faculty do too. And it’s often the potential students and their parents that are most strongly considered when the goal is to increase enrollment. However if the goal is to increase donations to improve the endowment, the positioning may be different.

Take a look at this 2 page PDF of the meta descriptions from universities in Ohio. Many of the descriptions are what you would expect, however as a marketer, I find it eye opening.

  • the use of the word “best” or “top”
  • Did one university forget completely about the meta description being a key online marketing media… and let the programmer write the description?
  • Maybe the cheering squad at the football game wrote one of the descriptions?
  • the role one university will play in about 12 months in the USA political election?
  • One university’s focus is the jobs it brings to their region

I’ve said it before. You can try to create your own brand positioning… but if you’re off target, you’ll find that the public will create the position without you. It’s hard to know what to keep and what to throw out.

So if you are a branding and marketing professional, your mini marketing homework for today is to check out your company’s meta description. Is that what you want it to say? Does it speak to existing employees? Potential customers? Or was it written by the programmer and says something like “don’t forget to enter the meta description here.” (Don’t laugh, I’ve seen something similar!)