You are not an idiot.
Let’s start there.
Whether it’s well-designed or it’s rubbish, your branding will be how your audience remembers you. Establishing a professional, recognizable brand identity not only impacts first impressions, but builds trust with potential clients and distinguishes you from your competition. You know this. So we don’t have to sell you on the importance of producing a logo that represents your business and establishes your brand. You know better than the folks that use tacky clip art, unlicensed/non-commercial fonts, and other do-it-yourself faux-pas.
What you may not know, however, is that there are the techniques and nuances that are common among the most effective logos and branding design strategies. Lucky for you, this isn’t a skill set that you have to learn to run your business. You be the boss. Let us be the designer.
In addition to your logo, things like color palettes, commercial fonts, use of all-caps/small-caps, text format, and other design factors make up an overall Design Strategy Guide. We develop this strategy with you and apply it to your website(s), email signatures, peripheral sites/applications, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube), and even print media. We’ll take care of the design, the details, and the minutia. You take care of business.
Please enjoy a few quick quips about Logo Design and establishing your Brand Identity:
GO EASY ON THE METAPHORS
If your logo needs to be deciphered, or has an elaborate back story, there’s probably little chance that it will communicate the essence of your company, service, or product effectively. Symbolism, at times, can be quite effective. Just remember that your logo should fit into the general theme and philosophy of your brand, but doesn’t have to tell the whole story.
A LOGO DOESN’T HAVE TO CONVEY WHAT YOUR COMPANY DOES
More often than not, logos of successful businesses don’t actually communicate what the company does. Think McDonald’s Golden Arches. No hamburgers. Think the Nike swoosh. No sneakers or golf shirts. Think the FedEx logo. No trucks or planes (although—in a cool typographical coincidence—there’s a “hidden” arrow). You get the idea.
Logos appear in a variety of different sizes and mediums, and usually on the smallish side. Overly complex logos tend to become unreadable when appearing in smaller formats, e.g. email footer, business cards, fax headers, etc. But don’t forget this thing may end up on a large poster, banner, sign, or billboard; logos with low resolution and detail look homemade and unprofessional when blown up. The key word here is “scalability.”
PLAY TO YOUR AUDIENCE
You want to like your logo. That’s given. This is also true of the overall style of your brand across the web. Your branding says something about you, your mission statement, even your philosophy. That said, factor in that your logo should appeal to your customers. It’s yours, true. But it’s for them.
Generally speaking, clip-art is typically not licensed for commercial use. But worse than that, it’s tacky. Just say no.
NO ‘PAPYRUS’ FONT
CHOOSE THE RIGHT TYPEFACE
Papyrus isn’t the only offender. There are many fonts that shouldn’t be utilized in your style guide for multiple reasons. Some—like Papyrus and Comic Sans—are just tacky fonts that should probably never be used. But you also need to consider if the typeface is appropriate for the subject, format and application. Does it reflect the mood, attitude, and personality of the business? Is the typeface technically and logistically appropriate for digital and print? Is it trendy or cliché? Does it complement supporting typefaces? Is it licensed for commercial use?
You’re smart. You’re not going to pay someone to do what you can do yourself. That said, there’s smart and there’s wise.
Do it yourself when you can, and pay someone when you can’t.
Trust the tradesman you pay for the skills you lack. A wise master does not spend his money on expert mechanics, engineers, lawyers, cooks, tailors, and designers, only to then spend his energy trying to change their minds.
That doesn’t mean the designer is always right. Always opinionated, yes. Almost-always right, maybe. But if he’s worth what he’s charging you, here’s the formula for success: Express your needs and wants, collaborate, confer, and confirm. But once you feel heard—once you feel that your designer has an understanding of your vision—it’s time to hand off your baby. And that takes guts.
Nothing is free. Every individual component of your success will cost you—at a minimum—either money or time. Both, in most cases.
But you know that. I’m not talking to the business owner who thinks a free website will “probably work just fine,” and doesn’t realize the adverse affects of low-budget design on establishing brand trust with consumers. I’m talking to the savvy entrepreneur who knows the value of a brand, and who is willing to pay an expert to help them establish theirs.
The key is for each party to know their role. The boss is not the designer. And the designer is not the boss. There’s balance to be had somewhere in there, and it comes when all parties play to their strengths.
“You are no more armed because you own a handgun than you are a musician because you own a guitar.”
Col. Jeff Cooper, USMC, widely known as the Father of Modern Defensive Handgunning
We help our clients establish and cultivate Online Presence.
We think it’s not enough to simply own a website and be done. As the late Col. Cooper suggested, ownership of a thing does not mean the task is done. Online Presence, then, is more than a true/false status. It’s made up of three main concepts, into which we have categorized our services: BE THERE. BE SEEN. BE HEARD.
Today’s consumer looks online first.
With very few exceptions, consumers check the internet before they leave the house (that’s if they leave the house). They carry the internet in their pockets. They check it during commercial breaks, coffee breaks, and yes, bathroom breaks. Be there, online, or the rest of this is moot.
Whether your target customer looks online for your specific business or even uses a search engine to look for the kind of services/products you offer, it is our job to make sure they find you. Of course, there’s much more to it than simply having a website.
But you already knew that.
“As of January 2014, 87% of American adults use the internet.”
Source, Pew Research Center Internet Project Survey, 9-12 January 2014
Among the seemingly endless options in an ever-expanding cyber-marketplace, to truly be seen requires a proactive, focused effort. Yes, a static web presence may be better than nothing at all. Yet without actively engaging in the fight for the attention of your target audience, that “presence” may represent little more than showing up to prom and parking yourself in the corner. To be seen is to be active. What does that look like?
It might look like appearing in a page of Search Engine results via clever Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactics and plugins. Depending on your needs, it might look like paid, targeted advertising on Google, YouTube, and Facebook. It might look like making routine updates to news on your site, or—more common these days—actually incorporating a blog onto the site for your viewers to read what’s new, browse older posts, and subscribe to upcoming ones learn about products, offers, tutorials, advice/opinion, etc.
Once we’ve established an active, online presence, it’s time for your voice to be heard. What is your message? Your philosophy? This is not just about announcing sales and special deals—although that’s part of it. One of the most powerful ways that successful businesses are being heard today is by sharing a bit of themselves on Social Media platforms like Facebook.
“Isn’t that stuff just for kids,” you ask?
Don’t ask us. Ask Coca-Cola (and their 84+ million Facebook followers), Amazon (their 25M+ followers), Visa (and their 15+ million followers), etc. The list goes on. There are three generations of people using Facebook and Twitter to get news about their favorite stuff.
We know. Collecting “likes” and “followers” seems like kiddie games. Maybe think of it this way: a “like” or a “follower” represents a person who has voluntarily subscribed to your ads, news, product/seminar updates, and anything else you wish to post from your Facebook or Twitter account. But that’s not all.
These are people that publicly recommend your services to their friends and family. People who see something they like and re-post, sharing it with their friends, family, colleagues, et al. This kind of exposure is invaluable. It’s more than brand recognition. It’s word-of-mouth evolved. It’s claiming your territory and protecting your turf. And it’s the kind of exposure that your biggest competitor is likely already getting.
There are 2.7 billion internet users worldwide, with 191.4 million in the United States. 73% of them use social networking.
Overwhelmed? Don’t be.
We can walk you do-it-yourselfers through the process, step by step. Better yet, one of the services we offer our clients is to set up the pages/accounts for you; we set it up, skin it with your brand, hook it all up to your website, automate it, and manage it for you. No logins, passwords, likes, pokes, tweets, hashtags, or friend requests. Let us worry about that. You’ve got work to do.
LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
Read more of our unsolicited advice on The Blog. We’ll keep it fresh with tips & tricks for do-it-yourselfers, inspiration, tools/resources, downloads, freebies, and whatever else we feel the need to monologue about.