The difference between a brand and a logo
How to make sure your company has a professional image.
Some clients will ask designers to simply 'create a logo’ with no consideration as to how this will translate across all of their advertising material. Doing so is a little bit like investing in a really nice Louis Vuitton handbag and then wearing it out with a multicoloured shell suit – just because you have something that looks nice doesn’t mean you can match it with anything else and hope for the best. Well, it’s the same with your company’s image.
Some clients will ask designers to simply create logos as quickly as possible, as though all logos are of the same standard and can be squeezed into an hour without it having any detriment on the overall look of the business. Making companies look good takes time, but more than that, it takes consideration – it means discussing what makes the company in question unique; who they are targeting and who they are competing against. It means discovering the company’s unique personality and making sure that translates wherever it’s seen.
And there we have it - that magic word - 'personality’. No one wants to hang out with an inconsiderate or unpredictable person do they? No, well, that’s how the company’s personality will come across if a logo is placed on everything with no thought. No matter how good the logo is, the company will unfortunately come across as though they do not have a clue what they are doing.
That’s where the word 'brand’ comes in. It’s all about personality and professionalism. You wouldn’t catch Macdonalds putting their golden arches in blue, or Apple stretching their logo out of proportion so it fits the width of a web banner. All these companies have strict guidelines as to how their logo is used and how the brand should come across to its audience. In fact, they will all have a big fat document that tells you exactly that: the pantone colours allowed, the scale and proportion it should be, the imagery that goes alongside it in brochures, the corporate fonts to be used, where the strap line should sit, the use of language when advertising their products and, more importantly, the 'don'ts’ - the things you’re not allowed to do with the logo, like stretch it in Microsoft Word. These 'brand guidelines’ will be used by every designer that works on their advertising, meaning that it is always consistent and maintains their professional image.
Of course that is all good and well but communication between the client and designer is of utmost important. Designers need to listen carefully to what the client is asking for and seek feedback for developments and alterations of their ideas. Clients should be able to brief the designer effectively on the unique identity they want to achieve as a company and trust that the designer will get them there. The problem is that this doesn’t always happen. A client may tell a designer, for example, that they want their business to come across as “corporate and professional” and then insist on using fonts like Comic Sans. Another may say they want to be known as “elegant and sophisticated” and then insist on using luminous orange and green. Graphic designers are not miracle workers, but they should be good problem solvers and have enough grasp of the industry to know what they’re talking about when they suggest fonts that are 'corporate’ or colours that are 'elegant’. Telling a graphic designer how to do their job is like hiring a decorator and then telling him how to apply the paint. You are paying for more than just a few colours and shapes strung together; you are paying for their expertise. Equally, a good designer needs to listen to the needs of the client and not just create work that looks good for their portfolio. A good logo on its own doesn't necessarily mean the right one - it may win awards but will it win the company customers?
Unfortunately a lot of clients are just looking for the cheapest option to give their company a logo, but do you know what that does? Yep, it makes their brand look exactly that - cheap. Good brands, or should I say, good personalities, take time to invest in. They are not botched together in an hour – they are to be developed with careful consideration or else they will be as respectable as my 1980s pink and purple shell suit. Not very.
“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design." Dr Ralph Speth, CEO Jaguar.