Logo design III – A company logo is not the same as a business brand
Over the last few blog posts, we’ve been looking at logos and design. Although we haven’t delved into the process that goes on before the design of a new logo – market research and sector investigation, understanding of company mission and values, and assessment of the existing situation and future expectations and goals – which lays the foundation for the design work, we’ve seen that there’s a lot more to a logo than just a nifty symbol or the company name written in a fancy, extra-large font. What we want to consider now is how a logo is only one element of a brand and the creation of a business logo is only the beginning of the branding story.
Once your designer has created a logo for you, you should be armed with a vectorial version that can be scaled up or down in size, the exact colour codes for print or screen, an understanding of how to use the logo in black and white, recommendations for spacing when you use it with accompanying text or graphic elements in collateral… in general, a whole host of information on how to use your logo correctly and effectively in different projects across different platforms.
This is the foundation of a coherent and consistent brand image, but it is nothing like the full story.
The fundamental purpose of branding is to support and promote your business’s strategic marketing objectives; however effective your logo is, and however correct its usage, in and of itself it is not sufficient to achieve this purpose.
Almost all businesses use some kind of collateral, from something as simple as a business card to a glossy brochure to a fully functioning dynamic website. Your logo will appear on all of these, but its mere presence is not going to be enough to pull them all together and make them work together and reinforce your message and image. And yet it is precisely this combination of media and communications, and, specifically, the consistency of style and voice across platforms that helps shape the bigger picture, establish the brand persona and strengthen brand ID.
Design is an essential element of brand identity and it’s vital that the designer understand and appreciate your company, your product or service, your message and your client. If he doesn’t have this knowledge, he won’t be able to do the best job and convey the right message in the most effective way.
One useful exercise may be to brainstorm a number of adjectives that express the persona of your brand: is it playful, professional, serious, bold, natural, confident, inclusive, supportive, didactic, empowering, educational…? In order to help convey this personality, your designer will work with tools such as colour, images and typography.
Your designer will not limit himself to using only the colour shades that occur in your logo itself. Instead he will develop a colour palette that complements the logo, a “chromatic ID”, appropriate to your sector and your brand, which he will use across your marketing communications both for print and for screen.
Even if your logo is a wordmark or includes a tag line in a clearly recognisable typeface, the designer will not use this font style for all text elements. In the same way as he uses a colour palette, he will work consistently with a limited number of typefaces and styles. Some fonts work well in smaller sizes, others are more suitable for larger projects such as exhibition stands or signage. Particularly in the larger scale projects, the designer may tweak the spacing between letters (kerning) or between lines (leading) to make a text easier to read and more effective.
The designer will also decide the type of graphic elements that work best for your brand ID: these may be two dimensional illustrations, cartoon-style or realistic, with bold, blocky colours or more subtle shading; they may be 3D images, with or without drop shadows; they may be bespoke photos or stock imagery that expresses the persona of your business. A photo can be treated with a colour transparency, or silhouetted; it can be placed within a frame, with a hard or soft edge, or set flush to the edge of a page; text can be placed on a plain space alongside, or directly onto the image.
It’s important to consider, too, the size and shape of print collateral and the weight and finish of the material it’s printed on. Again, your designer should be able to guide and advise you so that you choose the right medium for the content and the most appropriate way of presenting it to your desired audience.
All these different graphic techniques and tools are available to your designer, who will choose what works best for the brand message that you want to convey.
To some extent, every designer has their own approach, but a good designer will make sure that the work he does follows the branding guidelines, that it is consistent and coherent, and that everything works together over time to strengthen and reinforce the brand ID.
Beyond the visual
Of course the visual elements of design are only one part of any marketing communication: you also need to be clear about exactly what the purpose of each piece of collateral is and what you intend to communicate with it.
No one knows your business better than you and the people who work in it, but sometimes you can be too close to be objective. When you’re an expert on something, it’s very tempting to try and tell people everything you know, rather than focusing on the most important points – the ones that are enough to get someone interested and come and ask for more. It may help to get a professional copywriter to simplify or condense your ideas to convey the intended message efficiently and effectively. At this stage it may be a good idea to go back to those adjectives you brainstormed earlier as these will help define the voice and tone of your communications.
Although the brand voice should be consistent across platforms, there will often be a difference in the tone used in ephemeral communications such as newsletters or blog posts and the tone needed for a brochure you expect to remain in use for a period of time. Writing for the web and writing for print also require different handing. In the same way that your designer works with you on the visual elements of your brand, your copywriter will work with you on the texts that convey your brand message.
By working closely with your designer and your copywriter and using your logo and design collateral consistently across your marketing materials while keeping the focus on your intended message, your visual communication and voice will develop confidently and effectively and your brand will become clearly established.
In these recent articles we have taken a look at some aspects of logo design and branding, particularly from the point of view of a company wanting to develop a new brand. Sometimes, though, an established brand needs a re-vamp, and our next article will look at one of the common pitfalls faced by companies that re-brand.
At Tantamount we specialise in language and image for print and screen: we are happy to help with brand ID, design and copy writing projects, but we especially like projects that include all these elements! Why not talk to us?