What is a “profitable logo”?
You may be wondering what it means exactly for your logo identity to be “profitable”. After all, a logo is not a commodity or a service that could be inventoried and sold for profit. Why should you care if your logo is “profitable”?
A profitable logo to be one that has certain characteristics and does specific tasks for the organization it represents. Once fulfilled, these characteristics and tasks reward the organization with maximum profit potential that only a logo or logo identity can provide.
These criteria that a logo identity must fulfill to be profitable for the organization it represents are:
- It attracts the ideal target audience and potential clientèle
- It communicates one targeted message
- It represents your organization only
- It has longevity
- It meets all four of the above criteria, no matter in what medium and format it is displayed (print, web, large, small etc.)
So what does this all mean? How do you make sure that the above criteria are met, for maximum profit potential of your organization? With the following 7 essential keys, you will learn the secrets that the designers of the best logos in the world already know.
Key 1 – Is the logo identity suitable for you only?
Too many organizations take the wrong approach when creating a logo identity. They often, at times, think of the same imagery, take the same approach, use the same thought process as most of their competitors. This results in a logo identity that is not just seemingly suitable for your organization, but is also suitable for all your competitors as well. In turn, this deems the logo unsuitable for anyone.
Take, for example, an organization that manufactures staplers. At first, the ideas for a logo identity may involve using a stapler or a staple. This may seem like a good idea at the time; however, all of your competitors will have considered the same approach.
Here is an exercise that you could do yourself to determine if your logo identity is suitable for your organization, and your organization only. Take your current logo identity, and the logo identities of your competitors. You may want to open the files in an image editing software application like Photoshop, or you could print them out. Separate the icons from the word-marks of all the logos you have gathered. Now, intermix them all.
Take a look now at how the word marks and the icons all intermix. Do most of the logos still work? Do they still make sense, or are they incompatible?
You will want to make sure that your logo is unique to you and to you only. The benefits of this are astounding. What this gives you is something unique that stands out from your competitors. This uniqueness is what will differentiate your logo identity and make it be more memorable to your customers and clients.
Key 2 – Consistency, consistency, consistency
In order for a logo identity to fulfill the obligation of being memorable and effective, it needs to be consistent in all venues.
This means that certain criteria need to be met, as follows:
- Sizing should to be identical in all stationery items.
- Colours must match in all media, from newspaper advertisements to web banners to stationery.
- The same version of the logo should be used as often as possible
- The logo should not be modified
- Every application in which the logo identity is used needs to be identical.
Why is it so important to keep the logo identity so consistent?
By having logos presented in varying colours, sizes, shapes, and versions, it is very difficult to create the impression that you require from your logo identity. Consistency is essential to create a lasting impression in the subconscious of your ideal clients and customers. By maintaining consistency, over time your logo will become recognized and will form an imprint on your clients and future clients.
As well, your customers and clients need the reassurance that your company is consistent in the products and services you offer. The very subtle message that is communicated in a consistent logo identity is that you know how to maintain excellent service or offer the great products, consistently, over time.
Key 3 – Is your logo identity versatile?
You may now be asking, “How could my logo be versatile and consistent at the same time?” Well, it’s true that your logo needs to be consistent, but the fact is that it is not possible to use the exact size, version, or colour variation in all applications of the logo identity. It is a great practice to have in place versions of your logo identity to accommodate as many different types of imprinting as is possible.
Consider these variations of your logo identity:
- Different sizes – Small, Medium, Large – allows for variance in sizing when printing the logo in a 1/4 page advertisement and then a full page advertisement. Have your designer create only three size variations and then stick to them. As many times as possible, use ONLY these size variations. The idea is that it is not possible to only have one size, but with three options to choose from, there will not be many instances where your sizing requirements could not be met.
- Colour options – One Colour, two colour, full colour – There may be times when you need your logo identity to be published in a 1 colour newspaper advertisement, a full page magazine advertisement, or on a web site. Each of these media have their own colour requirements. Make sure your logo is just as effective in communicating a message in one colour as it is in full colour. Slight variations in colour that do not translate into black and white could harm the effectiveness of your logo.
With proper attention to the above two variations -size and colour- your logo should easily translate from a small logo icon on the end of a promotional pen to a full colour billboard.
Key 4 – What message does your logo identity communicate?
All logo identities communicate a message of some sort. The question is, what message does yours communicate? You may not know it, but you may be negatively impacting your organization through a negative message communicated by your logo identity.
The message being communicated should speak to the positive impact that your organization brings to its customers, clients or beneficiaries. A great example of a common communication problem in a logo identity would be a branding for a dentist. Many times, I’ve seen logos for dentists with one of the letter characters in the word “dentist” slightly rotated. On top of a misaligned character, the letters are slightly yellowed! This is clearly done to indicate a stained, misaligned tooth, which one would assume the dentist is capable of correcting.
Unfortunately, the message being communicated is not a positive one. When one looks at the logo, they see misalignment, misshapen and stained as a subtle message to themselves. This does not speak well of the dentist, who most probably is trying to convey the opposite message.
The dentist’s product is clean, healthy, white and straight teeth. These are the messages that should be conveyed in the logo identity.
Not all organizations are this clear in the message that should be communicated. That is why careful examination and review of the organization’s products, services and target audiences needs to take place.
Key 5 – Is your logo identity sustainable over time?
A dangerous trap to consider, when having an identity designed for your organization, is the urge to go trendy. Trendy design styles may look hip and cool for a logo identity, but you need to consider how that logo will look in 5 or 10 years. Many visual trends in logo identities have come and gone in the last 20 years. Many of them will now look extremely dated. Some companies have even had to go through the process of a redesign after only a few short years, because their logo looked very dated.
Another side effect of a trendy logo identity is the fact that, by following trends, your logo identity must work harder to differentiate itself from your competitors’ logos. If all the logos in a market segment have a similar trendy design style, how are any of them going to stand out?
So how do you ensure that your logo is not just following trends? A properly trained designer should be able to separate the trends from good design that will stand the test of time. An organization must think of it’s logo identity as the pair of jeans in its branding and marketing wardrobe. Because the logo is likely to be the only consistent item of every marketing endeavour for at least the next 10 years, it is crucial that the logo is not what dates the marketing. Instead, make sure that the logo is the solidifying part of the marketing plans, by creating a logo identity that holds up over time, in any trend that may come and go.
Key 6 – Is your logo’s integrity managed?
Once you have gone through the work of successfully creating the perfect logo identity for your organization, additional work must be done. The integrity of the logo must be maintained. Often, logos are passed on from one department to another, from one service provider to another, from one publishing application to another. Without proper measures in place to ensure that the integrity of the logo identity remains intact, the logo is at a very high risk of losing its value.
One of the best ways to ensure that this happens is to make sure that the logo does not travel alone. All well managed logos have what is called a brand identity manual or a branding manual. This is a manual which describes the rules of conduct when your logo identity is involved.
The branding manual will contain information on:
- proper sizing of the logo
- proper usage of colours
- proper usage in stationery
- using the logo on corporate vehicles
- using the logo on marketing material
- using the logo on forms and invoices
- using the logo in digital formats such as websites
It is essential that this branding manual travels with the logo where ever it is delivered. Ensure that whomever is given the logo reads the manual and follows its requirements.
This ensures that the logo will always be consistent in all its applications, across all media. Without this management, the logo risks becoming modified by anyone and everyone who may come into contact with it. This is detrimental to its integrity, because all the hard work that went into creating the logo will lose its impact, as the logo changes from one supplier to another.
It is also a very good idea to assign one individual to manage the integrity of the logo. By assigning someone, there will be a consistent message being delivered to all that wish to use the logo. This person should be able to monitor the usage and inform service providers and other company employees of any violations to the brand rules.
Now, all of this may seem quite excessive to some. Assigning the brand police for your logo identity could be too much for some to understand, but consider the value of the logo identity. Not just what was paid to commission it, but the true value of the logo. It represents the company as a whole, it is the focus of the company’s brand, and is in the cross hairs of the company’s image. With a consistent logo identity, the company is able to thrive as it maintains a real brand. Without it, the message is unclear and could cost the organization thousands or more, as it appears to be unfocused.
Key 7 – Has your logo been properly designed?
Key 7 could have easily been key one. Who are you going to trust with the design of your logo identity? Many organizations do not give this as much thought as perhaps they should. Not all designers will consider all of the above keys for a profitable logo identity. Many are inexperienced and cannot ensure that your logo identity is the right one that is the most profitable one it could be.
When looking for a designer, look for the following:
- How much experience does the designer have?
- Are they considering your business objectives?
- Is the designer experienced in creating logo identities that are consistent in many usages?
- Could the designer provide you with an effective branding manual?
- Is the designer available to manage the brand themselves if you required it?
- Is the designer wholly committed to offering you their full service to ensure your logo identity is the most profitable it could be?
- Do you enjoy working with the designer? They are a business partner after all, so it is important that you and the designer connect.
Choosing the right designer or firm is very important, take your time and make an informed selection.
7 essential keys to a profitable logo identity
So there you have it, the 7 essential keys for a successful logo identity. To recap, they are:
- Is the logo identity suitable for you only?
- consistency, consistency, consistency
- Is your logo identity versatile (but consistent)?
- What message does your logo identity communicate?
- Is your logo identity sustainable over time?
- Is your logo’s integrity managed?
- Has your logo been properly designed?
By following the above keys, you can guarantee that your logo identity will be very strong and beneficial to the profits of your organization. Without the keys, you are not benefiting your brand and the organization could suffer in the long run.
My Name is Robert Scozzari and I am the President of Clover Road, an award winning graphic design and marketing communications firm in Burlington Ontario which specializes in logo identity design and branding.
Clover Road is the fruition of over 20 years of experience in graphic design, communications and marketing. It is this experience that will benefit you the most, by determining and solving your business related problems through effective design and communication.