Nobody cares about your brand. Harsh? What I actually meant was that no one cares about your brand as much as you do. As a small business owner, one of your (many) jobs is protector of the brand. The artistic face of your brand is often your logo or “branding” which is a fancy word used to describe your efforts to leave an indelible mark on current and future customers.
As an aside, we use the word branding but do we ever really think about the word itself? Branding is literally taking a piece of hot metal and searing it into the surface of an animal or piece of wood. Why is this done? To prove ownership. When you brand a cow, you are saying that this is my property. This is my livelihood. In the old west, if someone were to attempt to alter or claim ownership of our branded property, we’d probably end up gunfighting at high noon. We need to think of and protect our brands the same way. Kinda puts branding in a whole new perspective when you think of it that way. Are you ready to gunfight for your brand? Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
When it comes to branding, the most troubling, and easily corrected, mistake that I see small businesses making is lack of consistency applied to the use of logos.
When you started working with a designer to develop a logo for your business, you probably had some very specific thoughts on the colors that you wanted to use and the feeling that you wanted to evoke with the logo. I’m sure design decisions were scrutinized and revisions were requested until you finally arrived at the perfect representation of your business. It’s an exciting milestone in the life of a business when you have a logo that you can share with the public. This is especially true when you are starting out and the logo feels like the first tangible part of your business. You want to share it everywhere. This is where we start to run into trouble.
Sharing your logo
My opening line, “Nobody cares about your brand,” while provocative, was my way of imploring you to make sure that when you share your logo, fidelity is maintained. What do I mean by “fidelity is maintained?” That means that colors, dimensions (proportions) and typefaces are consistently applied no matter where the logo is displayed.
I create logos and I’m often dismayed when I see a logo that I created with colors that are not only inconsistent with the original but also missing from the logo altogether. If you and I were walking down Queen St., on our way to grab a bite at Habanero’s I would probably point out a logo that I created that has an entire element missing which makes the logo look unbalanced. It drives me nuts. I care about the logo but apparently the client hasn’t noticed.
Another opportunity for your logo to be degraded, is found on promotional flyers. These types of flyers are often created by a third-party and can include multiple logos from organizations that are being promoted on the flyer. I’m specifically thinking of an example in which a client was to speak at an event. I designed a logo for the client and the organizer of the event created a flyer and used the logo as part of the promotion. Everything looked great, except for my client’s logo. The proportions were way off, squeezing the logo, reducing its clarity. I didn’t receive the flyer until well after the event was complete. I just shook my head. I couldn’t believe that the client wouldn’t say something about the logo.
The lesson again is simple. Unless your brand has indelibly left its mark on your customers and the community at large, don’t expect anyone to notice or care that your branding is being inconsistently applied. If you allow your branding to be applied inconsistently, you shouldn’t expect it to have an impact or leave the impression that you are looking for.
You need to fight for your brand. Do everything you can to make sure it is applied consistently and appropriately. You wouldn’t think of aligning your business with another business, organization or group that doesn’t share your values because it degrades your business and sends an inconsistent message to your customer base. Similarly, you shouldn’t degrade your brand by allowing it to be displayed in ways that are inconsistent with the original design.
Quick Tips on Maintaining Logo Fidelity
There are some simple things that you can do to ensure that your logo fidelity is maintained. Here are a few.
When you receive your logo from your designer, make sure you receive all of the formats that you will need. When we talk about formats, I mean file types and resolutions:
- PDF and EPS: scalable vector graphics that can be used in a variety of situations. Unfortunately, most laymen don’t know how to properly use these formats. Make sure type is converted to outlines. This will help when submitting to a print or advertising service and will help maintain the fidelity of the logo.
- GIF: generally used for web graphics that have very few colors.
- JPEG: most logos probably shouldn’t require a JPEG but it is often the first type of file requested by organizations that are publishing a newsletter or booklet with advertising. JPEGs are primarily used for images. You’re not using an image for your logo, right?
- PNG: a versatile format for your logo that would primarily be used on the web or in presentations (like PowerPoint).
- Resolutions: 300 DPI for print, 72 DPI for screen is a good rule of thumb.
Black and White and Color
A good logo works as well in black and white as it does in color. You will often find that you are limited to black and white when submitting your logo for advertising. This is often the case when you sponsor a 5K and they are going to put your logo on the T-Shirt. Generally, your logo will be in a single color (white) and you will need to submit a single color (black and white) version of the logo. Make sure that your graphic designer gives you all of the above file types in both color and black and white. It will help out greatly.
Don’t be afraid to reject a proof!
You will (should) receive a proof of your advertising (t-shirt, business card, flyer, etc) before it is sent to press or pushed live. Look at your logo closely. Is the color consistent? Are the proportions correct? If not, reject it! Speaking as a graphic designer, I’d rather the advertiser come back and say “that’s inconsistent, lets fix it” than to have it incorrect.
Keep the logo in a lock-box
Remember Al Gore and his lock box? It was his plan to keep congress from raiding Social Security and Medicare. Well, you need to set up a lock-box for your logo and then distribute the keys to anyone who needs it. Dropbox is good for this. Create a Dropbox folder with all of the various formats and versions of your logo and then when someone needs it, simply share the folder with them. Then, there should be no doubt that they have the correct version of your logo. Whether they maintain proportions, that’s another question.
Did you get the Co-stanza reference? If so, leave a comment describing the reference. I might have a prize for you.
Photo Credit: https://flic.kr/p/4JDhgx