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Ask Haley: Logo-a-gogo: Best practices for your corporate identity

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Q: How important is a company’s logo?

A: When considering your brand’s identity, the most important thing to consider is how you want your company to be seen.  What perceptions do you want your clients to gain?  How can your identity stand out and make a stronger case for your services over the competition?

In the simplest terms, your company logo IS your company’s identity–its face.  An effective logo is distinctive, unique and memorable, while also easy to read and understand.  In many cases, it quickly illustrates what business the company is in without even needing to be read. 

Logos cover a wide spectrum of styles and layouts.  There are wordmarks, such as The Home Depot, Ford and Coca-Cola, where the company name is the logo.  The name is usually given some graphic or artistic treatment so that it serves as both icon AND company name.

Then there are lettermarks where the company’s initials are given a creative treatment and become an icon.  Examples include IBM and CNN.

We also see brandmarks like Apple and Nike where a single, distinctive icon stands for the company, often without the company name appearing.

Finally, we have logotypes.  These generally include both a distinctive icon and a typographic treatment of the company name.  They can be arranged vertically, like Target Stores, horizontally like the Windows software logo, or some other asymmetrical layout.

Whatever style of logo you prefer, remember that the logo doesn’t exist for your sake–it’s intended to appeal to your clients.  While you can rely on your personal tastes to choose a logo that suits and pleases you, it’s important to step back and try to see it from a client’s point of view.  Will they understand what your identity means?

Developing a corporate identity can be a lengthy process with a lot of trial and error.  It’s very subjective and requires you to provide specific and detailed feedback to your designer so he or she clearly understands what sort of artwork you’re looking for.  It’s a good idea to observe and study logos you like and dislike before starting a logo design project.  That way, your designer knows what styles appeal to you, and which to steer clear of.  This can mean the difference between spending fewer than 10 hours on design, or more than 100. 

There are a variety of “do-it-yourself” logo services and software packages available.  They offer professional-looking, low-cost solutions, especially if you’re in a small market or niche business.  But this is also a cookie-cutter approach and there’s a good chance other companies, and even other competitors, are using similar or the same artwork.  If you want something unique and tailored for your company, it’s best to work with a professional designer or creative agency.

Here are some best practices for developing a logo:

  • Script and decorative fonts are generally difficult to read, especially at small sizes.  Using company initials in a script typeface can be particularly illegible.  There are thousands of typefaces available–pick ONE which best matches the message you want to convey (professionalism, expertise, reliability, etc.). 
  • Avoid trying to say too much with a logo.  A logo can get busy, cluttered, and in the end, confusing to the audience.  Better to keep it simple and elegant.
  • Be cautious about color.  Full-color logos are more visually striking, but there may be higher associated costs. While digital printing makes full-color printing much more affordable these days, it is often still less expensive to print stationery and other materials using no more than three colors.  Your design agency or commercial print vendor can help you isolate logo colors through the Pantone Matching System. 
  • A logo is NOT a tagline.  A logo should be able to stand on its own, without a tagline.  The tagline is a statement advocating your firm’s strengths or services and can be used in conjunction with the logo, but they are two distinct ideas.  If the logo is your company’s face, then the tagline is its greeting. 
  • Logos must be functional across different media from business cards to billboards, websites to Word documents.  The artwork should be effective in color and black and white formats whether it’s printed, projected or precut plastic.

Designing a logo is harder than you think…but worth the effort!

Creating a strong corporate identity is not a simple process, but just like it’s important for your candidates to dress appropriately for their interviews, it’s just as important for your firm to have the right look. After all, you want to make the right first impression, don’t you?  An effective corporate identity goes a long way towards establishing your brand, your company and your strengths over your competition. 

If you think it might be time for a logo update or if you have other questions about your company’s corporate ID please email me at [email protected] or call me at 1-888-696-2900.

Find out more about our corporate ID services for staffing.

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