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Smart Logos: Part 2: How to Create the Best First Impression for Your Business




Welcome back to Part 2 of our discussion about how to create the most effective logo for your business. In Part 1, we talked about logo types and which type(s) would be more or less effective for a given business. Now we are ready to marry that with color, typography and symbolism that is relevant to your company’s mission and values.


Your Brand’s Personality

In all likelihood, you already have a vision for your company’s image. If you’re launching a clothing boutique, is it elegant-casual? Preppy and classic? Edgy urban wear? Or boho? If you design bedding, are you marketing to a whimsical children’s market? Are you selling organic linens? Do you envision selling your bedding through Neiman Marcus’s upscale home store, Horchow?


Every product fits into a slightly different place in the market, meeting the needs and interests of a vast spectrum of different types of consumers. When creating a company logo (or branding in general), it is essential first to consider the following questions:


1. What are some adjectives that describe your company’s image? Is it fresh and organic, vintage, earthy, elegant, exclusive, whimsical, quirky, modern, cutting edge, down-home, playful, serious, steadfast, urban, feminine, sporty, outdoorsy…?

Be as specific as you can be. If you are marketing ready-made organic food for outdoorsy types who want healthier options while camping, hiking, etc., say so. If your business provides on-the-go market data for serious investors, are you marketing your company as a solid, dependable bulwark, as a consumer-friendly helper in a confusing market, or a cutting edge technological solution for those who are ahead of the curve?


Each of these will dictate very different branding and logo solutions.


2. Who is your target market? Women, men, children, pets, the elderly, fitness lovers, young professionals, or amateur chefs who love Thai food?


Before we go any further, let’s pull both of these considerations together and look at an example from the world of adult fitness watches. At first glance, this market appears to be relatively homogenous and yet, it isn’t. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that there are many different brands to match the different types of consumers. Let’s examine the logos associated with each.


A. Smartwatch - Apple

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the Apple Watch at the top of the list, which is so widely popular and universally well-known. Though the watch is known for a wide range of technological capabilities, there is a cult following of Apple products - people who associate the brand with a combination of trendiness, technological savvy and user-friendliness.


In Part 1 of this post, we discussed Apple’s pictorial logo - a very simple, almost playful allusion to a user-friendly brand that doesn’t intimidate consumers.



B. Fitness Tracker - Fitbit

Without analyzing the functional differences between the Apple watch and Fitbit products, there is a difference between the consumers of the two.

Smartwatches, such as the Apple watch, hold less market share and appeal to men more than to women. Watches that are marketed as predominantly fitness trackers, such as the Fitbit, appeal to women more than to men, and to higher income earners.


Notice the company’s logo - a light, blue-green series of dots that allude to a pulse and also contain an embedded arrow (facing to the right), presumably representing the user’s progress forward in her fitness goals. If you recall, from our discussion of color, blue shades are appetite suppressants. Light blue-green is also seen as fresh, clean and modern, consistent with the brand’s personality.




C. Technology Gurus - Samsung and Polar

On the other side of the market, there are a number of people who value brands with more of an advanced technological aura and less universal appeal. Many of these people prefer Linux operating systems over Windows, Samsung Galaxy cell phones rather than the iPhone and pride themselves on making smarter, rather than more popular consumer decisions. And there are fitness watches for them.


The Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro and the Polar V800 GPS Sports watch, are great examples of products that market to this group of consumers. Notice that Samsung’s angular block logo has both a modern and a machine-inspired personality.


The Polar logo is also a block type and yet it contains two subtle symbols. First, the line of horizontal negative space alludes to a sense of motion - definitely relevant in the fitness industry. Second, the red dot is most likely a reference to the company’s start in 1977, when it received its first patent for a fingertip heart-rate monitor. Thus, the logo is both a nod to the company’s history and its current role in its consumers’ lives.


D. Sport-Specific Watches

There are also consumers who want a watch with more sport-specific functionality. These brands know that some serious runners, cyclists or divers like to wear a brand that reflects their specific passion. These include the Garmin Forerunner 935 (beloved by runners) and the Helson Shark Diver 38 (well-rated by scuba divers).


Both the Garmin and Helson logos are comprised of simple, black block letters. However, the Garmin logo utilizes a simple blue triangle, which even the company says has no definite meaning. This is generally not advisable and, as an example, note that though Garmin has existed for almost 30 years, few consumers would probably recognize the blue triangle without the Garmin name.


Helson uses a simple Wordmark logo. However, note that the first letter in each word is slightly larger than the others, calling to mind a signature. This seems to imply that the company is making the statement that it is staking its own reputation on the quality of its products. So, rather than using a symbol in conjunction with its name, the company has signed its name in a symbolic fashion.


E. Fashion/ Up-Market Watches

And last, but not least, let’s remember that some consumers prefer to wear brands with a “prettier” face and less market saturation; the type of watch that stands apart in the class and style category. The Tissot sports watches are a great example of this segment of the market.


Once again, we see a logo with black, block letters. However, this one marries the Swiss flag with its name, alluding to the long-standing history and quality associated with Swiss-made timepieces.



Case Study - Your Fitness Watch Company

For many of these, such as Apple and Samsung, the watches are manufactured by companies with numerous other product lines. However, assume that you wish to enter the industry, marketing solely fitness watches. How you position yourself vis-à-vis the different consumer segments should absolutely dictate what logo you choose. A luxury fitness watch for women should have a very different logo than that of a playful, user-friendly one.


Let’s assume for the remainder of our session here, that you are marketing a particularly futuristic fitness watch, aimed at high-income women and men. You would describe your brand as cutting-edge, uber-modern, technologically advanced and space-age. This answers questions 1 and 2 from above. Next, we need to consider the following:


Examples of competitors’ logos/ branding

It is always a good idea to look at what similar competitors are doing and how their brand representation might be similar to, or different from what you would like to do. Given our market, we should look at both futuristic watches (that may or may not be fitness-specific watches) and also some of the technologically advanced brands that we talked about above.

Azimuth is a very cutting-edge brand of space-age style watches made in Switzerland. You will notice that they have employed a combination type logo, comprised of a symbol and the company’s name.


Their symbol represents a hairspring, or spiral, which is a key component of mechanical watches. As such, it depicts the company’s dedication to detailed, exacting craftsmanship.


Notice also, the choices made regarding color and typography. The company has used only black font, most likely to parallel the deep space concept behind the brand, and also consistent with most of the watch manufacturers we have examined.

Similarly, the typography consists of a particularly futuristic and angular font. The angular nature mirrors the brand name, “Azimuth” which is Arabic for “the direction” and which is an angular measurement in a spherical coordinate system.


The company has also utilized space-related pictures and tag lines on its website.


Symbolism Consistent with Your Brand Image

As a manufacturer of a fitness watch that is “cutting-edge, uber-modern, technologically advanced and space-age” as we determined above, you have a lot of options for a symbolic image. Your graphic designer may design an emblem that calls to mind a planet, such as Saturn, with a watch as the planet’s outer ring and your company’s name on the inside. Or she (and you) might prefer more of a combination logo, like that of Azimuth.


This is when the company’s mission and values are particularly important. If you use a symbol in your logo, it should say something about what the company values, or what the product represents, if not both. Make sure to communicate your company’s over-arching values to your graphic designer.


Some companies exist to provide organic, clean, ethically-attained, or environmental goods in contrast to how other products in the industry have historically been grown, gathered or manufactured. Others are founded in order to provide consumers with user-friendly options in what may be confusing or intimidating industries (e.g. Lending Tree mortgage software and LegalZoom).

Still others are based on new technology and forward-thinking principles that aim to carry society forward into a more efficient and streamlined future.

And of course, many companies meet consumers’ desires for long-standing tradition and quality that calls to mind a former age of hands-on craftsmanship and the highest quality.


Color

You will also need to consider what colors should be incorporated in your logo. Most of the watch companies that we looked at use black font in their logos, although industry consistency may or may not be advantageous for your company.

Other options for your company, besides black, could include white, silver and cobalt blue, all of which consumers interpret as both futuristic and technologically advanced.


On the other hand, if your business were an earthy, organic one, you might lean towards neutral shades of off-whites and browns, possibly with green. If you launched a very upscale bedding company that you wanted to be perceived as elegant and enduring, you might choose a deep blue or purple monogram logo with silver or gold details. For a children’s daycare center, bright primary or playful colors would likely make the most sense.


Typography

Notice that in Part 1 of this series, two of the Wordmark logos we examined differ dramatically with respect to both color and typography. Google chose to use playful colors and font, consistent with its silly name and fun company image. In contrast, Coca-Cola uses a classic, old-world script to allude to its history, and a rich red color that acts as an appetite stimulant.

A script font might be just the thing for a letterpress stationery business, a woman’s boho clothing boutique or a jewelry company. A serif font might be particularly applicable to a 100-year-old furniture manufacturer, a boutique real estate company or an old-world restaurant. Decorative fonts can be especially impactful for quirky pottery companies, a comedy club, or a unique tropical, furniture manufacturer.


However, given the futuristic nature of your brand, you will most likely want to use an angular or block font that calls to mind the space- or machine-age. If you recall from our discussion of typography, sans serif fonts - those without “feet” - evoke the most modern feeling. They also tend to imply products that are cut-and-dry, meaning that they are reliable and straight-forward.


Conclusion

Of course, it is altogether possible that you picture your brand being a futuristic and technologically advanced one that is also user-friendly and somewhat playful. These are things that you should articulate to your graphic designer so that they can take them into consideration.


Regardless, the important thing to take away here is that your depiction of your brand’s personality should feed into all of the elements of your logo: its overall style, color and typography. And your brand’s image, coupled with your company’s mission and values, should dictate what symbol is the most applicable for your logo, should you choose to use one.


A well-designed logo pulls together all of these elements in a way that quickly and effectively speaks to the consumers so that they have a correct and positive understanding of your business and the products that you offer. This will make your logo what it should be: the best first impression that puts your foot forward in the market.

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