Five Things to Consider about Branding and Logo Development

May 1, 2017

Branding and LogoWhile a new logo and tagline aren’t insignificant, they consistently get way, way too much attention. Yes, you need a professional, well-conceived brand mark that reflects favorably on your community, but it’s only a small piece of the overall puzzle.

In fact, you will often hear our staff reiterate this phrase over and over again: A logo is not your brand.

Branding is both an overarching image and an underlying force that should determine the direction of any marketing or communications effort. In its simplest sense, it is “who you are” as a region or organization and what sets you apart from your competitors. The branding process comprises five steps: research, brand promise and key message development, design, marketing plan development and marketing plan implementation.

While we would argue that the research, brand promise and marketing plan implementation steps of the branding process are the most important, we continually find that communities get stuck in the design phase.

Here are some quick tips we share with communities as they enter the design phase to avoid hang-ups:

  1. Logos should not be a literal illustration of your place: There may be some design elements that tie back (most likely with abstract images) to well-known attractions of your location, but a logo that is too literal can often backfire on your branding efforts.
  2. Logos are meant to be simple: This is a golden rule of design. If you’re trying to please every single person and incorporate every little recommended bit of feedback into the design, you’ll just end up with a busy mess. Think of the most iconic brands; often their logos are a very simple image that doesn’t necessarily say what their product is; however, thanks to strong marketing from these organizations, people often associate that logo with that brand. Still having a hard time with this one? Just picture the Apple logo or Nike swoosh.
  3. Logos are meant to showcase in a quick visual manner a little bit about who you are: A logo can convey quickly key concepts you want to be known for in a visual manner. As you evaluate logo choices, refer back to those keywords and ask yourself, “Does this say – ‘this’ or a mixture of ‘this’ and ‘that’?” If almost everyone on your committee can agree that the visuals can be interpreted to reflect those keywords, then you have your logo.
  4. When emotions get in the way, go back to your research: We understand that choosing a logo is a highly emotional process. Our main piece of advice is to refer back always to your research. What your key audience says about you is critical, it’s how they view you. Leverage that research to determine what your messaging should be: what are the strengths you need to tout, the misperceptions you need to address. Knowing this will help guide the design process of your logo, but also allow your brand to live through more than just an image.
  5. What others say about you—not what you say about yourself—will build your brand. If you want to build an effective brand, focus your energy and resources on getting credible third parties – industry experts, major rankings, the news media and other influencers – to tell your story.
Susan Brake

Written by Susan Brake

Susan Brake is Vice President at DCI overseeing the digital media strategy for all the firm's economic development clients. Since joining the company, she has effectively leveraged traditional and social media tactics to reach target audiences for her clients large and small.

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