The logo and your brand promise

Posted on Aug 22, 2013 in Blog | No Comments

How do you know when you need a new logo? The question was posed in a marketing exchange recently and drew a number of comments. As the discussion became increasingly heated, those in favor of change felt that it was a marketing effort necessary to modernize a stale brand, while the remaining participants felt that another branding effort was needed but the logo should stay. What to do? Do you need a new logo or just a strategy to support the current one?

A logo is the visual brand promise. From a graphics perspective, a logo should answer questions about the business philosophy. Is it a modern, efficient, simple, classic type of company? Does it have any secondary brand implications? Are the colors in line with the type of company it is? How does the image convey the uniqueness of the company? Have you established those parameters as a company? Is your logo visually supportive of your outlined USP’s?

Having worked to re-brand several organizations who have had an aging/irrelevant brand, I can tell you the process can be unexpectedly painful. People become attached, even when a logo is extremely tired and nearly unusable. I recall a particular organization I worked with in the late 1990’s whose logo was an abject failure. Reminiscent of 1970’s accounting firms (graphs, teal and arrows-yikes!), and intended to highlight a woman’s role in business, the logo just didn’t work for the intended target audience of young business women, but certainly resonated with those who had been working in the 1970’s to the mid 1980’s-a large majority in the organization. Finding the balance between refreshing the logo and brand promise for the intended audience and gain buy-in by current stakeholders was a huge challenge. Without the refresh, future target audiences just wouldn’t be drawn to the brand, and with the change they could lose current brand champions. It was a delicate balance. In the end, the refresh was deeemed necessary, completed and successfully implemented, but it took some time getting there. The refresh has lasted since 1999, and continues to be used and look great today. Success! This isn’t always the case, so any major efforts to visually re-brand an organization should examine all potential effects on current and future stakeholders prior to engagement. Sometimes it’s worth losing some current stakeholders in lieu of gaining a much larger audience. Those aspects should be weighed carefully before you forge ahead.

Successful legacy brands like Bass Ale (logo below), who is recognized as having the first trademarked logo, can have the same visual identity for over 100 years-they filed in 1876!

200px-Bass_logo.svg

 

In the end, one thing will always hold true-the customer experience is the greatest measure of a brand’s performance and will ultimately predict success. It is the customer who ultimately gives a brand the right to exist and grow, or wither and die. Ensure the brand promise is lived by and within the organization that it represents, and the logo is the graphic representing your commitment to your customer.