Monday, July 18, 2011

Judging The Cover

Sometimes what you see is exactly what you get.  And sometimes, what you see is simply what you want.  This point was hammered home to me last week as I was wandering local businesses attempting to drum up donations for a fundraiser I'm putting together for a local non-profit foundation I'm working with.

I walked into a small, cozy little liquor store in a tucked away section of lower downtown Denver.  It's a nice shop, a family-run shop, the kind of shop you enter and instantly feel at home in.  As I struck up a conversation with the owner behind the counter, we started discussing various alcohols and drinks and, since I'm a fan of the "brown" liquors, the conversation drifted towards whiskeys and rums. 
You might not have a logo this recognizable, but your logo CAN help you drum up biz

Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with alcohol an rattle off the names of the more familiar whiskeys and rums found on nearly every shelf of every liquor store in the country.  But I was surprised when the merchant started talking about a new rum that had hit the market.  Apparently he was having a hard time keeping it in stock.

I won't name the rum, but I will say that it's relatively new, it has enjoyed a strong national advertising campaign and has a pretty cool label.  When I asked the owner how the rum actually tasted, he said, "Surprisingly, really good."

But it's what he said right afterwards that is actually the point of this post.  He leaned over as if to tell me a secret and said, "You know, most folks come in and buy it because of the label design, and then they buy it because they like the taste." 

It's a pretty basic tenant that a cool logo, or a classy visual representation of your organization will help lead to success.  Sometimes, logos become icons themselves, just look at Apple, or McDonalds or Jaguar.  You can instantly see their logo.  They are clean, they are classic, and more importantly, they are instantly recognizable. 

This is why so many companies devote so much time and effort into designing their logos.  They logo is often the first thing a potential customer sees, and it's what they'll remember.  Your logo is the vanguard of your organization, so it has to be simple, clean and attractive. 


But more than that, your logo needs to say something.  When people look at your logo, you want them to associate it with quality, or with fun, or with whatever you want your image to be.  That means your logo has to actually say something about who you are, what you do and what you stand for. 

Take a look at some of the more successful small businesses around you.  Some may simply have their name attached and use that as their logo.  Others may have a more complex logo.  Some will have a simple, clean and easily recognizable and memorable logo.  Chances are, the ones with the great logo will be the more successful organizations. 

That doesn't mean having a great logo will ensure great success.  Far from it.  Because you have to remember the second half of what the kindly liquor store owner said to me.  They buy it for the label, they buy it again because they like the taste. 

You see, a great logo can only attract people initially.  It's the substance behind the logo that will keep your customers coming back and help grow your business.  If you have a fantastic "look" but your service or product is poor, you'll go under.  The best of logos can't help a business that provides poor quality service or products. 

But having a great look CAN help establish you as a force to be reckoned with and help your business attract customers, especially in the early days after the doors have just opened. 

Customers, no matter how established they may be with an existing product or service, will always be curious about something new.  Is it better than what they have?  Is it more affordable?  More convenient?  Customers will come to you out of that curiosity, and it's your logo and look that will initially catch their eye.

And remember, your look extends far beyond just the sign hanging outside your door or on the sign on the corner.  Your look has to be part of everything you do.  This means your press releases, your pamphlets, your in-house collateral and anything you hand out or give away in your surrounding neighborhood.  It has to extend to your advertising and even your uniforms (if you wear them).

And don't think that social media isn't important when it comes to distributing your look to potential customers.  Brand your Twitter page with your logo, make your Facebook photo your logo.  The same holds true for your blogs, your website (of course) and even your Foursquare and LinkedIn accounts. 

You want your logo to be seen by as many people as possible, and that means making sure it's on every piece of paper the public comes in contact with from your business and on every associated page they might see online.

If you're putting together a logo for a business you're putting together now, or thinking about redesigning your logo, keep these tips in mind:
1.  Keep it clean - We're not talking being obscene or not being obscene.  We're talking about the KISS system; "Keep It Simple Stupid".  This theory actually works in just about every aspect of social media, PR and marketing.  But for your logo, simple is king.  You want it to be a symbol that folks will easily recognize and remember.  You don't want hieroglyphics that folks have to decode.

2.  Let it Represent You - If you run an auto body shop, you certainly wouldn't use a sandwich as a logo, would you?  You want folks to have a pretty good idea of your business just by looking at your logo. 

3.  Use The Right Colors - Look it up...colors have impact.  This is why restaurant use the colors red and yellow in their logos.  Red and yellow makes people hungry.  Blues and purples make people feel confident.  Green makes people feel calm.  There are a number of resources online that you can refer to in order to get the right color combination for your organization.

4.  Don't Get Wordy - You want your logo or look to be symbolic of your organization.  It's hard to be symbolic with a lot of words getting in the way.  One, two words tops.  You don't need to put your slogan or message in your logo.  There is enough time to do that in the rest of your collateral.  Let your logo stand alone.  Put your name in, no problem there, but otherwise, the fewer words the better.
Again, your logo is just the first interaction with your customers or potential customers.  In the end, you have to have a quality organization in order to survive and grow.  And one last item...as you're putting together your logo, make sure you get a design that is a high quality resolution and comes with various color backgrounds and one with no background so they can be used in videos, TV and other forms of printing and collateral.

So get out there and wave your logo loud and proud! Just like everything else, it's a tool to attract customers, and the better you use that tool, the more successful your company will be.