Category Archives: Branding

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How to brief your logo designer

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I am often asked by clients, ahead of a logo briefing meeting, do I need to bring anything? My answer is always no. Do I need to do any research? No again. This is because during my logo briefing sessions I will work with you to find the answers to the questions which will help me build a picture of your organisation and the brand you will need, but obviously there are questions I am going to ask, so if you like to be prepared…here is a list of information you might like to have ready for your logo designer

What does your organisation do?

This seems like quite a straight forward question and the answer could be simple like; Recruitment, or I make cakes, but what your logo designer will be looking for is something more than that. A statement that gives your organisation a personality and differentiates it from other recruitment companies or cake makers. So, try to think about the problem (or problems) that your business solves for its customers.

Next, who is your target audience?

When I initially ask this question in logo briefing sessions the answer is often very broad. If you sell skincare products then anyone with skin could be your customer – right? Unfortunately, it is unlikely that you are going to have the budget to market to everyone, so although you may be willing and able to sell your products and services to anyone who wants them you do need to actually pick some people to target.

If you have already got clients then it is best to look at what they have in common. Also look at which clients are most profitable, buy the most from you and buy regularly. Finally, don’t overlook which clients you like working with the most – it will certainly make your life easier to work with people you like.

If you don’t have any clients yet, then really think about who you’d like to work with and who your product or service most appeals to. Try writing down:

• Are they male or female (or transgender I guess)
• What age bracket do they fall into
• What income bracket do they fall into
• Where are they located (geographically)

You may be able to define other characteristics, for example where they work, what their hobbies are, where they shop, what social networks they use – the more you can flesh out the ‘persona’ the better.

What are your Unique Selling Points?

It is quite easy to get very general here; friendly, professional, knowledgeable etc and whilst these are great USPs they are not necessarily very unique. I find it easier to ask clients about their ‘journey’ – what brought you to this place with your business, what have your experiences been – good and bad, what lessons have you learnt. Your ‘story’ will help you to flesh out what is important about your brand and what makes it unique.

Who are your competitors?

We have talked about being ‘unique’ and your business may be precisely that, but unfortunately it is very unlikely that there won’t be anyone else doing something like you. You could be opening a pre-school that focuses on children learning through sport and there is no other organisation doing that in the local area, but parents do still have other pre-schools to choose from, so you need to know what they are doing.

There are lots of ways of finding out about the competition, walking round and visiting them, giving them a call, but Google has provided us with a great, quick way to check out the competition. Write down perhaps 5 companies that you feel are close competition to you. Your designer should also be doing this and assessing what they are doing well and what could be improved upon, but your input is needed into this process.

Remember do not copy what your competition have done, but be inspired by good choices.

Your personal taste

Now this isn’t always relevant, if you are a 50 year old man starting a business selling those trainers that the wheels pop out of to teenagers, then your personal taste is going to have no bearing whatsoever on your logo, but if you are your target audience and especially if you are going to have a driving role in your business and be front and centre with your customers then your brand can (and should) reflect your personality. So have a think about things you love and things you hate these could include:

• Colours (are you a warm or cold colour)
• Icons (maybe you hate dolphins…)
• Fonts (what! You don’t have a favourite font…)

I hope this advice will help you if you are developing your brand and will lead to you getting just the logo you always wanted!


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Logo Design Trend Predictions

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I’m not a huge follower of design trends, as I really feel that each logo needs to suit the individual business and not follow fashion. However design does follow trends and I thought it might be interesting to look at the predicted trends for 2020….so here they are

3D Depth

Thanks to developments in technology and software we are seeing amazing 3D designs and we are certainly likely to see more of this in 2020.

Monotone

In 2017 there was  a huge duotone trend, well for 2020 this we’ll see this simplified even further to a monotone palette for the ultimate in minimalism.

Shiny Metal

Using metallic in design for both branding and product design has been super trendy recently, especially gold metallic which when used with a minimalist design gives a luxury look and feel.

Typography

Innovative typography is expected to flourish in 2020, literally in some cases, with floral typography being a really popular trend.

Line Art

This simple illustrative form has been gaining popularity over the last two years and 2020 will see more of this clean style.

Vintage

The 1950s is getting a rebirth in 2020 with early colours and hand drawn illustrations conveying that vintage fifties feel

Geometric

A popular trend for at least a decade, geometric designs are not as easy as they look. Very difficult to convey the right message.

Here are some of my logo designs which incorporate some of these trends, but obviously also meet the needs of the business and match the target audience!


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The Effect of Colour in Design

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We all know that colour is important, from an early age we are asked ‘what is your favourite colour?” and you are expected to have an answer ready! Later in life we choose colour in our wardrobe to make us feel confident and colour in our home to make us feel relaxed or comfortable. It’s no surprise then that colour is an important aspect of design.

This month I’m going to take a look at what colours make you feel and which brands are using colour effectively, but remember it’s not just about your brand, colour can also be used effectively in Point of Sale, Call to Action, Social Networks, Advertising, Exhibitions – in fact anywhere that you want to stand out from the crowd!

Feeling – Energetic, Excited, Bold

Use – Often used to promote discounts, offers and deals, used by brands who want to appear good value and exciting

Feeling – Warm, Friendly, Cheerful

Use – Often used in Calls to Action and by companies that want to appear approachable and accessible

Feeling – Optimistic, Youthful, Happy

Use – Often used in Point of Sale and Window Displays and by companies who want you to feel joyful about their brand

Feeling – Peaceful, Calm, Natural

Use  – Often used by companies who want to project a healthy or ‘green’ image

Feeling – Trust, Dependable, Progressive

Use –  Often used by Financial or Health businesses were reliability is paramount

Feeling – Creative, Wise, Imaginative

Use – Often used by Beauty brands or companies that want to appear established, but fun

Feeling – Feminine, Soft, Young

Use – Often used by companies who want to appeal to women or teens

Feeling – Goodness, Trustworthy, Established

Use – Often used by brands who want to appear traditional and good or organic

Feeling – Strong, Powerful, Sleek

Use  – Often used by sports and luxury brands, can be very strong in design layout

Feeling – Balanced, Calm, Professional

Use –  Often used in the technology and automotive markets, works well as an accent with all other colours.

Feeling – Modern, Fun, Advanced

Use  – Often used by technology or internet brands, especially to convey the idea that their product is new and innovative

So let’s have a look at how some of the brands I have created stack up against these guidelines (you might recognise your logo in here):

So what colour is your logo and do you feel like it is representing your brand values to your target audience?


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Tone of voice….and how to find yours

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Have you ever seen footage of BBC television programmes from the 1920’s? If you have you’ll remember the tone of voice was very specific – posh, plummy English was the only tone of voice allowed!

Things have moved on a bit since then and you’ll now find a huge range of voices on television and radio, but tone of voice also applies when you are writing a social media post or blog or even presenting a visual image to a prospective customer.

The most important thing about tone of voice is to get the right one for your audience. Cillit Bang is well known for Barry Scott’s loud, brash tone of voice and their catchphrase ‘Bang! And the dirt is gone’ – it works for them, but if Johnsons Baby products were to adopt the same tone it would be very jarring.

So how do you find your tone of voice? The best place to start is with the definition of your target audience and of course your brand’s unique selling points.

If your brand is knowledgeable and trustworthy and your clients are serious business people, then your tone of voice needs to be serious, weighty and reassuring, and certainly not silly, funny or flighty. However if your target audience is students and your brand is fun and recreational then you definitely SHOULD have a light and amusing tone. It will be fine for you to use emojis and LMFAO!

The same technique can be applied to choosing an image, fun, cartoony images are fine for fun brands, but serious subjects need a more careful approach. Just because you like little cartoons and use them in your personal Facebook posts, doesn’t mean they are appropriate for your business communications.

The final thing to remember about tone of voice is consistency. We all get very used to a certain tone of voice from our favourite brands and any deviation from that tone, even the use of ‘I’ instead of ‘we’ when talking about your work or achievements can be very strange.

Once you have found your tone of voice you can employ it in all your marketing; brochures, social media, website, email newsletters and even your actual conversations with clients.


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New Year, New Logo?

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Last week one of my clients has approached me with the following query; “over the festive break one of my friends mentioned that I’ve had the same logo for my company for many years and wasn’t it time for a change….should I change my logo?”

We had a good chat about it and they’ve decided it’s not time for a change, but it led me to thinking….when should you change your logo?

Your logo is your key communication tool, it should feature in every piece of marketing you produce, as well as all your communications with your clients and suppliers. Any change needs careful consideration as it can really affect how your audience perceives your company. Your audience will come to recognise your brand and changing it can mean your clients no longer identify with your organisation. Change can be good, but it can also be negative.

Remember these companies that changed their logo for the worse…


GAP’s 2010 rebrand is renowned for being withdrawn just 1 week after it was launched. The new logo was accused of being “cheap, tacky and ordinary”. Not the way GAP clothing wants to be thought of.

From a classic to logo that speaks of history and credibility Oxford Dictionaries, in an effort to look modern and cool, ended up with a logo that looks like a cross between Beats by Dre and Twitter – not cool!

Another failed example of an attempt to modernize, Black & Decker moved from a logo that feels like a stamp of approval and quality to a generic logo that reads like Black Plus Decker

Although a relatively young company Air BnB’s growth had been such that they felt a rebrand was in order. The new icon is supposed to be ‘the universal symbol of belonging’ unfortunately it actually looks a bit rude! Whoops!

So having seen where some big brands tried and failed – what would be a good reason for  rebrand?

A change in business ownership

A merger or acquisition often results in a rebrand. The aim is to make the change visible to the public, but it could also form part of the legal requirements of the change. It is essential in these circumstances to ensure that the qualities and personality of the original business are maintained to avoid losing the value of the merger or acquisition.

A change of product or service

Often called Respositioning, if your businesses offering has changed then a rebrand may be in order. Your business may have evolved naturally over time to offer different things or you may have made a strategic decision to change your specialisation. Either way it is very important that your brand accurately reflects your offer.

A change of market

Markets are always changing and growing and it is important that your business is aware of and reacts to changes in the marketplace. It may also be that you have pinpointed a new or growing market for your business and you wish to target this new audience. Getting your brand right here will be essential.

Internationalisation

If your business is embracing internationalisation then a rebrand may be essential. As well as changing your logo you may need to consider a name change, as your name may have the wrong associations in other countries. Rebranding in this case needs some serious research into your new territories.

An outdated image

Although, as we saw above, this can be a dangerous reason to rebrand and can often lead to more harm than good, it can also be crucial. However it is very important to assess your target market accurately before making any changes. If your market hasn’t changed, then your brand probably doesn’t need to either.

So think carefully before you throw the baby out with the bath water….