How do you get people to use only your latest brand logo, and to do so consistently and correctly? First off, it might be a good idea to make sure they understand why a logo and the correct usage of it is so important in the first place. What makes a good logo great, and what is the value of it? And why is consistency so important?
As a marketer, designer or brand specialist, you'll know how it feels to have to explain again and again what variation of your company's logo should and should not be used. How many times have you seen a logo being used incorrectly? Wrong color, wrong placing, a version of the logo you retired two years ago or – my personal favorite – toe-cringingly pixelated.
Getting people to use your logo correctly depends on a lot of stuff, including how the people working with your brand actually feel about it. But getting people to understand the value of a logo and why it matters how you use it, is an important piece of the puzzle.
To help you do that, we've gone in-depth and listed some insights from various sources about the business value of a logo, and why the looks and consistent use of your logo matter.
First off, let's do a little visual exercise. You look at the following images, and tell me why a logo is so important:
The feelings, thoughts, names and associations that pop into your head within a few milliseconds of seeing these, anchor the points I'm about to share with you.
To get a little deeper into the importance of a logo, it might be nice to look back at what the core value of a brand is, and then to look at the relationship between the brand and the logo. A brand adds financial value to the organization it belongs to, this we can state quite certainly by now. But first, what is at the core of a brand?
In his seminal “The Brand Handbook” Olins explains with concise penmanship what brands are, how to create them, how to make them work, and how to sustain them. At the core of the brand, he writes, are a clear identity and mission.
Olins: “The fundamental idea behind the brand is that in everything the organization does, everything it owns, and everything it produces it should project a clear idea of what it is and what its aims are. The most significant way in which this can be done is by making everything in and around the organization — its products, environment, communication and behavior — consistent in purpose and performance and, where this is appropriate, in appearance too.”
Interesting to note is that the visual elements, though very important, only come last, here. According to Olins out of all the visual elements, the logo or symbol is the prime identifier for almost all brands, its purpose being to “present the core idea of the organization with impact, brevity and immediacy. […] The logo encapsulates the brand.”
Your logo is important because the brand is important. Additionally, your logo is often the first thing that people see and the first thing people will remember about your organization and your brand – and it will have a strong connection with how your brand makes them feel. It is the prime identifier and the first and most important vessel to carry your brand's core values and message.
So, what feeling do you want people to have when they think about your brand? And what should your logo design be like to be able to carry that feeling?
It's difficult to come to an agreement, even between designers and brand experts, what constitutes good logo design. This is partly because, all professional training aside, human factors such as tastes and preferences will always play a role in such matters. Does that mean there are no research-based criteria that we should look for in logo design?
It turns out there are. Another visionary in the realm of branding and corporate identity, Roel Stavorinus, writes in his “Logo x Logo [in Dutch]”:
“Research by Kantar Millward Brown indicates that a good logo meets the following three requirements:
A good logo is clear: simple, short, and logical. It's consistent: over time and across the various places where stakeholders might encounter it. And it's communicative: it reinforces your core message.”
What's interesting to note, here - next to simplicity and communicativeness - is how important consistency appears to be.
So, it seems that a logo is often the first thing people see, and the number one characteristic of your brand image that people will remember. Additionally, we can be pretty certain about the fact that a well managed brand adds financial value to a business. But can we say the same about the business value of a logo, specifically?
It turns out we can also safely say that the quality and consistent use of a logo impacts overall brand performance and equity, and thus the financial bottom line of the attached organization.
C. Whan Park, Andreas B. Eisingerich and Gratiana Pol report in MIT Sloane Business review: “What our research shows is that effectively managed brand logos can help companies to build stronger customer brand commitment and thus allow a brand to improve its financial performance.”
Additionally, the authors report the value of a visual symbol over the simplicity of a name brand:
“Our research found that separate visual symbols used as logos tend to be more effective than brand names at creating a sense of emotional connection with consumers. This may not come as a big surprise, because symbols have long been considered more effective than words as communication tools.
Symbols better overcome language barriers and are easier to interpret than words. However, despite the commonly understood benefits of symbols versus text, surprisingly few companies take advantage of separate visual symbols.”
Not only can we deduce that a good logo consistently used adds financial value, we can even see that having a symbol as your logo can have extra added value over a name-based logo.
But what should that symbol look like? What are characteristics of effective logo design?
Recent research points out that simplicity and symmetry can influence the effectivity of a logo. It turns out that symmetry and asymmetry for instance influence our feelings, in terms of how exciting we think a design is.
Jonathan Luffarelli, Mudra Mukesh and Ammara Mahmood published research in the Harvard Business Review on the effectiveness of logos. From their study:
“The design characteristics of logos can considerably impact consumer behavior and brand performance. Prior studies on logos have shown that their simplicity or complexity can influence the funding decisions investors make, and that their symmetry or asymmetry can boost brand equity.”
The study further showed that a descriptive logo will, in most cases, increase brand performance more than a non-descriptive one.
Descriptive (upper left and bottom right) vs. Non-descriptive logos.
Next to the characteristics mentioned above, all other design aspects such as color(s) and font(s) used can trigger certain characteristics in the mind of viewers/consumers of your brand and its products.
* Read more about logo design here.
Color, font, symmetry; descriptive vs. non-descriptive – all of these factors can contribute to adding business value to your brand with your logo. There is no one right way, but there is one thing all organizations can do to improve the positive effects form using a great logo. All of the effects we have discussed here, live or die with consistency.
Focusing on branding and brand elements, the concept of consistency works in two major ways:
If your audience is clear on who you are, knows what to expect, trusts you and like you, that means you’ve “branded” an impression through repetition and consistency — specifically, with your behavior, your words (your tone of voice, personality and your overall message), and your brand visuals — of which your logo is the first and foremost.
Now, getting everybody that works with your brand assets to use assets like your logo consistently is something you probably won't achieve overnight. The aim of this article has been to help you get across the value of a logo and the reasons why consistent use of a logo is important.
Finally, a Digital Asset Management tool that stores and organizes each and every brand asset that you have in one central location, can be of great help in governing the correct and consistent use of assets like your logo.
Especially for marketing teams who are collaborating remotely with each other, their internal and external marketing ecosystem and other internal and external stakeholders, a Digital Asset Management platform like Lytho can add a lot of value. Applied strategically, you will be sure to get the most value out of your brand and the related assets by using a DAM system.
A few things a Digital Asset Management system can help you achieve are:
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