You need a logo for your company and your nephew's neighbor's wife's friend said that he likes to draw … and would love to design the logo for you. Sounds familiar? After all, if Nike can have swoosh for a logo, how difficult could it be to draw one? You even know what you want! You call him and few days later you have a wonderful drawing. But, is this really the best way to go? What is the real monetary value in designing a logo. Did you ever try to get a quote for a logo design? Like many things you buy these days, there is a range, and in this case, it's huge.
I was asked once at a meeting with a potential client if I could design a logo that would have the same recognition as Nike enjoys in the market place. Without hesitation I said that I will guarantee it. They were surprised until I told them that it would be directly tied to their marketing budget being the same as Nike's.
So then, you ask, can not I save on logo design? Could a logo be virtually anything as long as you put a huge marketing effort into promoting it?
What is a logo? You also have to ask, what is a brand? I have read somewhere that brand is the proprietary visual, emotional, rational, and cultural image that you associate with a company or a product. That is a mouthful. In other words, what comes to your mind when you recognize company's logo is very important. And it's very important on an emotional level.
As the excellent book, The Hero and The Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes by Margaret Mark & Carol S. Pearson outlines, 12 archetypes are very applicable to brand building. Here is an outline of 2 brand archetypes, including some of their primary attributes. Is your company The Innocent? (Wholesome, pure, Forgiving, trusting, honest, Happy, optimistic, enjoy simple pleasures) or is it The Explorer. ( Searcher, seeker, adventurous, restless, desire excitment, Independent, self-directed, self-sufficient, Value freedom). I will not go into all 12 of them in here, but would like suggest this book as a great reading for the purpose of learning about branding. Ask yourself if you can think of a company that would fit into The Innocent category. And how about The Explorer , who could that be? (How about Disney and Nokia?)
Now back to your logo design. Before giving a green light to your nephew's neighbor's wife's friend to design your logo, did you think if the image you have in mind for him to use as an inspiration really represents your company? Combine your choice of the archetype together with a few very basic questions you might be asking yourself:
- What is our business category?
- What are the most important features and benefits?
- Who are our competitors and what makes us better?
- Why do we want / need to reposition your company in the marketplace?
- What are the company's strengths and weaknesses?
- What kind of relationship are we trying to establish with our customers?
- What is the "image" of us our customers now see?
- Who is the customer – the person who reads the brochures or attend trade shows. Talk about his / her views on life. What about his / her workplace – is it stable, how's morale likely to be? What factors influence success in his / her job? [just list key words]
- What are the needs of our customers?
- And how best do me meet those needs?
- Imagine we're at an industry trade show – what do we hate most about the displays and brochures?
- And, what do we like best?
- What could make our company stand out visually?
- Who are we or could be strategically allied with?
- What opportunities are there for our company to make a difference?
- What kinds of things make us NOT want to do business with a company?
- List some key words that summarize how we want to be perceived eg conservative, quaint, eager, etc
- List colors that you believe represent our company at this point?
- What image / photo would we like to see on the cover of the brochure? Positive BIG BANG or TEASE.
- What promise could we make to your potential customers?
- How do we NOT want to be perceived? eg aggressive, conservative, etc.
- If our budget was wide open, what would be the most innovative thing we would do with our marketing materials? (eg 'have trade show booth come down from the ceiling and drop talking brochures into the hands of attendees')
- What makes us proud to work for the company?
Logo design is a creative process. We say that a good graphic design is both art and strategy – It's an art form with a business purpose! As I wrote above – brand is the emotional, rational, and cultural image that you associate with a company or a product. A good logo supported by a tag line is a visual short-cut to your company that you want to create in everyone's eyes as they observe it. It's an icon that people will associate with your company.
I will not answer the question if you need a professional graphic designer for your logo design. I will let you make that decision. But I would urge you at least to talk to a graphic design firm and see if they can answer your questions about the process they use, about their pricing structure, their research and their project management.