BRANDING: Creating the right logo

What should I consider when designing or redesigning a logo?

Glenda Shasho Jones: The following 10 points can help you design a new logo, or redesign an existing logo. Because a logo is such a crucial element of your business, you might also try quantitative research among customers or prospects to get feedback on the logos you are considering.

1. A logo should work well as a masthead. Think about your catalog cover when designing the logo. Think horizontal, strong, balance.

2. A logo should be easy to read. The most applicable direction here is “KISS” or “Keep it simple, stupid.”

3. A logo should take color into consideration. Will the logo change color from effort to effort? How will that affect the look of the logo?

4. A logo should work well with other type. You’ll need to use your logo in conjunction with other type, whether it be a nearby tagline, promotional type, or general copy.

5. A logo should reproduce well. Thin lettering and complicated icons are hard to get right on press and tend to break up in an electronic format. Most companies that created these logos have wound up “fattening” their lettering so that it holds on press, or dropping in a mortise behind the logo.

6. A logo should expand and contract. You’ll use your logo in many circumstances, so don’t find out too late that it disappears when compressed, or it is unreadable when expanded.

7. A logo should be usable in other media. Whether you have a Web or retail business now, how will your logo translate into those environments, if you need it to? Don’t forget print and product labels.

8. A logo should reflect your brand position. You want your logo to reflect the personality of your company. Bold, modern, youth, mature, and Zen are just some of the feelings you can get from type and type design.

9. A logo should be differentiated. Copycat creative is unproductive. It undermines your long-term efforts and usually just reminds your prospect of your competition.

10. A logo should be updated and well designed. Seems like it shouldn’t have to be said? What’s surprising is the mediocre quality of design accepted and how quickly something that is “overdesigned” becomes outdated.

Estin Kiger: Designing a new company logo can be a daunting task, especially since it’s not part of the normal routine of direct marketing creative.

– Begin with a brief written description of the attributes of your company that you want the logo to communicate and to whom you want to appeal. Give this description to the designers and bring it to every meeting during the approval process. This statement will add direction to the design and objectivity to the selection process.

– Consider taking the project outside even if you have great inhouse creative. Logo design requires a specialized talent of word/image connection that comes easy to good logo designers. Also, inhouse art directors are often too close to the business to look at logo opportunities with a fresh eye.

– Start broad and work to narrow design options in a three-step process. 1.) Get lots of ideas from many designers and cull them to just a few that you really like; 2.) Send those back to the designersfor further refinements; and 3.) Select the best one and send it back to the designer for final polishing.

– Avoid inhouse employee contests to design your company logo – these seldom produce outstanding logos and almost always create some ill will among your staff.

– Allow enough time. Logos always seem to take longer than you anticipate. If you’re redesigning an existing logo, schedule the project offline from your catalog deadlines. Don’t limit possibilities by rushing to meet mail dates. Use your old logo until you’re delighted with a new one.

– Use a top-down approval process. If the CEO is going to give final approval, get him or her involved as early as possible, and have the CEO attend every presentation. Keep the number of approvers to a minimum; remember the saying: “A camel is a horse that was designed by committee.”

– The best logos for catalogs (and Websites) are easy to read and simple in nature but not necessarily subtle.

Jean O. Giesmann: I would start by gathering the marketing and creative folks to do some brainstorming. To begin, list all the key words and images you can think of that may represent your service or product line. As you’re brainstorming, keep the following points in mind:

– First, consider the customer. The design has to appeal to them. Who are they? Why do they shop from you? What are they looking for? What generation are they from?

– Second, consider the offer. What is your product line? Clothing, hardgoods, gifts? The product offered may contribute to ideas for interesting graphical elements. Such as Staples stylizing the “L” to imply a single staple, a common office supply.

– A third consideration is personality. Do you want to communicate confidence, strength, stability, or perhaps be more lively and fun? Answers to this question will affect choices in fonts, colors, or juxtapositioning of letters.

Also, remember that memorability is key to a successful logo design. When you have a high degree of recognition, be careful about changing your logo’s design. That’s why catalog redesigns can pose a problem, because there is a risk associated with taking away something your customers will recognize and associate with your firm’s good qualities. A new logo should be associated with a merger, a new corporate direction, focus, or significant expansion of product offering.

What’s most important to keep in mind is that the logo design contributes to the effectiveness of your cover’s ability to get the customer to open your catalog. It should be used consistently so that your customers associate that logo with your product offering, service, and degree of satisfaction. Once you’ve established that association, the logo helps keep your catalog in customers’ hands.

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