There are four elements in every logo concept: the message, the personality, the aesthetic, and the context.
The Message: What We Should Know About Your Company
A logo’s message is a blend of both the offering (the products and services offered by the company) and the vision of the brand. It indicates how your company is different from every other.
Let’s say you manufacture shoes for formal occasions. You may offer shoes in very low price points or you may offer some of the most expensive on the market. You may create custom footwear. Maybe your shoes are the most comfortable or the most fashionable or the most durable. Maybe they come from a visionary designer. The offering (shoes) and the vision (comfort or fashion or cost) combine to create a message that directs the creation of the logo.
As an example, look to the fashion industry. A designer's name may carry the largest portion of the brand's weight in fashion. If so, it may be featured predominantly. But that brand may want to produce several different offerings: a high-end couture line and a ready-to-wear line at a lower price point. One example of this dynamic is Donna Karan New York and DKNY. Both lines come from the same celebrated designer, but they appeal to different audiences.
A great logo offers the flexibility to create additional offerings over time. Other lines can be added, and the primary logo changed to reflect the addition. Donna Karan can create a cosmetics or jewelry line and add that word to the primary logo to indicate a shift in focus while retaining the power of the main brand. This practice is called a brand extension.
Another company, Payless ShoeSource, focuses on cost, as reflected in the company name. This primary difference is reflected in the logo, which has a tagline that transforms the name of the company into a short sentence: "pay less for style." The message of the brand is clear, as is the company's market position.
Choosing the Right Message is the First Step
Of course, in order for the logo to include the message the organization must have developed one. In a time when we are inundated with calls for our attention and hundreds of similar companies compete for the same customers, the message has become the centerpiece of all communications. When very few businesses competed for attention, customers had little choice – they went to the business that offered what they wanted. That’s no longer the case. Creating a clear, distinct message is a vital part of developing a modern brand.
Choosing the right message can be one of the most difficult yet critically important parts of the process. Many entrepreneurs aren't entirely sure how their company differs from every other, but a difference always exists. Creating a unique market position for your company can come from having a unique set of products and services, but much of the time differentiation is the product of creativity. It is an approach to the offering that can be as unique as the business owner.
If you’re not sure how your company differs from every other, consider:
- the owner’s personality
- personality traits in the primary customer base
- unique aspects of the offering
- innovative ways that the offering is delivered, manufactured or designed
- the company's location
- history of the offering
- affiliation with a group or demographic
- quality, safety and durability
These are just a few of the many ways that your offering can be mentally separated from the offerings presented by your competition.
All of these aspects must be taken into consideration when a logo, slogan and company name are being developed. If a business wants to create an offering that's fun or useful or independent, that message must come through. If the organization creates an offering that is serious and formal and sophisticated, that must also be revealed. Form follows function; knowing what you want to say about your company is the first step in developing a way to convey that information.
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