Many small to medium-sized businesses never take the time to consider the impact of their visual identity or develop a unique logo or “mark” that sets them apart from their competition.
All too often, the myths and mystique surrounding corporate identity design deters organizations from considering ways to improve their visual identity – the impression created by awnings, business cards, and web designs.
One common myth is that corporate identity projects turn into bottomless money pits. If hiring a professional designer or graphic agency is out of your budget, consider free resources. Barter with a designer to exchange your product or service for a logo. Or create an Apprentice-style challenge for a digital design class at a graphic college or even your local secondary school: to design a logo or a complete identity package (guidelines for the use of colours, layout and other graphic features). Even newly-graduated graphic designers are often eager for a challenge to add a real logo to their portfolio – for a nominal fee.
Although nicely-formatted letters can create eye candy, the lasting impact comes from a unique “mark” or logo. The top logos incorporate simplicity with impact.
The logo or mark can be abstract or representative (think of the dog house that Fido uses). A mark can also be as simple as a single letter – the elegant, scripted “t” for Telus.
If you have doodlers in your company or family, challenge them with coming up with a logo (pen on paper). Once scanned, a crisp doodle becomes a digital image you can easily incorporate into a file. Satisfied with the overall concept yet unsure about the quality? Hire a professional designer to clean up the image and prepare it as camera-ready art. A logo in line art is easier to work with and scale up for signage and other large applications than a bitmap.
If you have a creative bent with software, consider using free clip art. Or use a graphic application to innovate; creating a custom design that frees you of any concerns about trademarked or copy-protected designs.
Limiting the use of colour will keep your print and other production costs reasonable. Consider a two-colour design.
Once you have a logo designed, what’s next? Consider all the possible touchpoints: signage, vehicles, stationary, clothing, and packaging (if your company ships or sells products in bags or boxes).
Along with a logo, consider a tagline: a slogan or phrase (typically ten words or less). Telus tells us that the future is friendly. Timex claims it takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
How do you get started? Start with a promise: what does your organization offer to customers? Do you already have a mission statement? Consider jazzing it up by injecting a bit of humour or personality substituting the key words for those which have more pizzazz.
Consider adjectives that encapsulate your values or the quality your products or services offer. If you are stumped, create a corporate challenge and ask your employees and even customers to provide feedback. Using a bulletin board or white board to keep track of key words will help you evolve your tagline.
Don’t get discouraged if your first attempts don’t exude cool. Your tagline should be realistic, clear and also stick to memory ten minutes after the Google searcher leaves your website or the pedestrian walks past your store’s sandwich board.
Finally, test-drive your creative efforts by inviting a select group of “outsiders” who know your business (suppliers or customers) to provide feedback.