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Taking Your Corporate Logo Seriously

By Noelle Bates, Director of Corporate Communications, LogoWorks
Tuesday, April 12, 2005; 9:40pm EST

Before a customer or potential partner drives up or walks into your business, clicks on a website or interacts with you or another employee, they most likely have already formulated a first impression of your business.

The customer wouldn�t have needed to hear a thing about company, read about it in the paper or seen an advertisement to do so. They have an impression because they�ve probably seen your logo. And whether you know it or not, your logo has told customers something about the business before the customer engages you in any way.

That first impression is more important that many business owners realize. When you consider that a logo can instill a sense of confidence, even desire, in a customer to do business with you, logo creation and logo usage is not something to be taken lightly.

A Logo is a Company�s Face � the Visual Representation of a Brand

Most of us make an attempt to look our best in important situations � we know our appearance has bearing on whether or not someone will regard us competent and professional. Our hair, our clothes, even our makeup tells the people around us something about what we are like. In effect, we brand ourselves with our appearance.

The �face� of a company � it�s logo � does the same thing. A well-designed and effective logo bespeaks professionalism, trustworthiness, and can clearly indicate what a business does and to whom they cater. Once someone has done business with you, the logo becomes the visual representation of everything the customer experienced in relation to your business. In that vein, a good logo helps bring new business in as well as helps sustain repeat business. A bad logo can have just the opposite effect.

It�s important to note that while your logo is not your brand, it IS the visual mark that represents it. So not only does it provide that all-important first impression, it allows customers to find you, remember you and differentiate you from all other businesses.

Your Logo is Sending Messages

A logo can say a lot about your company, but is your company sending the message you want your customers to receive? Are you using the right combination of colors, images and messages to strike a chord with your target customers?

The colors and shapes in your logo play a big part in how your business is perceived, and what kind of first impression people will take away. For example, blue connotes authority, dignity, security, faithfulness, stability, heritage, and trust, whereas orange conveys fun, cheeriness, warmth, appetite, and speed. Many of us have a innate sense of what colors will work based on what kind of company the logo represents, but it�s a good idea to do some research on what colors will make the most sense for your industry.

Overdoing it with your logo also sends a clear message that can have some negative consequences. We see a lot of companies making the mistake of wanting to cram way too much into a logo when the truth is, a simple logo can send a much powerful message than a complex one. When businesses add their tagline, a phone number or their license number for example, they are only confusing the eye and leaving people with nothing to take away. Overdoing a logo actually leads people to believe your business is small and unprofessional.

The goal of your logo should be memorization, and if you give your customers too much to memorize, it makes it much harder to remember. Simplicity wins out almost every time, and it�s almost always the best way to send the right message.

When Does it Make Sense to Change a Logo?

Since a good logo can have such a powerful positive influence with customers, it�s important to make the logo last as long as possible. When a company has built a successful, powerful brand using a good logo, it would be foolish to design a completely new one. In the not so distant past, a major insurance company overhauled its logo � a logo they had been using for decades that represented over a century of strength and trust. It was arguably one of the most recognized brands in the country, and making big changes to that logo was a big mistake.

But there are times when a new logo is necessary, or when a facelift could really make a difference in the company. Most companies do not have brands that are so powerful that changing them will have a negative impact. Obviously, if you are starting a new business, there is no better time to invest in a professional logo than now. But, for those not lucky enough to start out with a clean slate, a new logo might still be worth the investment.

If your business is not attracting the kind of customers you want, or if people don�t view your company the way you want them to, it may be time to consider getting a new logo. Other times to consider a new logo is when there�s been a change in ownership, product mix, corporate direction or customer base that has caused a fundamental change in
corporate personality.

If you�re still not sure, a good litmus test is to ask yourself the following questions: �Does my logo convey how much I care about my business and my customers and what I�m trying to offer them? Does my logo make me look professional and knowledgeable? Does it do my business justice?� This is particularly important if you are in an evolutionary, competitive and rapidly changing field that rewards cutting-edge innovation.

Logo makeovers and updates are more common than brand new logos. Most logos will not last forever, and after a while most logos will need some updating to keep looking good. The changes can be minor and should not drastically alter the look and feel of the logo, because that will alter the feel of the company to customers. Coke and Pepsi make subtle and incremental logo changes quite often. Although these logos are noticeably different from their inception to present time, the logos are never so different that they cause you to wonder what is happening to the company. Apple, one of the most powerful brands in the world, updated its famous icon � the apple � by removing the rainbow colored stripes and making it a one-color logo. The new Apple logo is not as distinct as it was before, but the company felt it was dated and wanted to do a better job communicating their innovation with a more simple and direct design, something the new logo does much more effectively.

The idea of a logo makeover or update is just to freshen it up, to keep the company looking up-to-date, and to help customers feel like your business is not falling behind the competition.

By having a professional logo, your company can make that all-important positive first impression. People will remember your company the next time they need whatever you have. And if you take your logo seriously, they will take you seriously in return.

About the Author
Noelle Bates joined LogoWorks as Director of Corporate Communications in September of 2004. Prior to LogoWorks, Noelle was the Director of Corporate Communications for Melaleuca, a direct sales company that did over $600 million in sales in 2004. Noelle has worked for two different for hi-tech focused public relations agencies in Utah and San Francisco where she worked on dozens of accounts, from multinational software companies to Internet security start-ups, and has public relations experience in the software, hardware, pharmaceutical, consumer, and health and nutrition industries.

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