Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cover Story - Behind the Logos || Sagar Riaz, IIM Shillong || July 2015 Edition

Behind the Logos 
Sagar Riaz, IIM Shillong

Logos form a critical component of business marketing. Being the major and sometimes the only graphical representation of a company, it cornerstones a company’s brand. If your logo looks like any other logo- how will the target market/customers remember you or how will the new customers find you? Let us talk about the purpose and design aspects of a logo.
Purpose Corporate logos are intended to be the face of the company (Brand). They enable the customers to identify with the core brand of a company. Also they act as a shorthand way of referring to a company in the activities like advertising and marketing. Making First Impressions - When the potential customers need to decide whom to trust, they consider your logo at first hand.  Apart from the shapes, color, font, spacing between the letters etc. are few of the design elements that communicates your brand story with your customer in that instant when the first impression is formed. The founder of the ‘The Sodfather Landscaping’, Wayne Stuetz once mentioned in an interview that how the first impression gives them an edge. He believes that their logo is very memorable, and it’s hard to forget once a person has seen it.
Design Design of logo should be such that it is comprehensible to potential customers. Logos can be made to convey some information about the company by designing it in a way that gives some sense of meaning about the company or its industry/ domain. 
BMW has its roots in the aviation and its logo stays true to it. The blue and the white sectors represent a propeller in motion with the sky peeking through. The three ellipses seen in the Toyota’s logo represents three hearts: The heart of the customer, the heart of the product, and the heart of progress in the field of technology. 

The Psychology of Logo 

Designs How influential is Colour on customers? • 93% of Purchasing judgements by the customers are made on Visual Perceptions • 84.7% of consumers cite colour as the main reason to buy a particular product • 80%  of the customers think colour increases Brand Recognition What can Colour improve for a brand? • Comprehension of a brand by 73% • Learning of a customer about the brand by 55-68%
What exact traits does each colour signify? 
Choosing the right Font for your Logo? Let us understand this with examples. HSBC uses a classic serif font in uppercase letters portraying itself as Trustworthy and Strong. GAP has made its logo particularly wide to create a distinctive style. So, usually a regular scale is most appropriate but logos like GAP demonstrates how alternative designs can work. Contrary to that, FedEx has minimal spacing between the letter to suggest a tight, and punctual service.
What is the role of Shape in a Logo? Basically, our subconscious minds respond in different ways to different logo shapes. Let us see how the inference from one shape differ from another. Circles, Ellipses and Ovals - They are used to convey a positive emotional message. Using a circle in a logo suggests community, friendship, love, relationships and unity whereas rings have an implication of marriage and partnership and thus suggesting stability and endurance. Squares and Triangles - Straight edged logo shapes, generally, suggest stability in more practical terms and can also be used to imply balance. Straight lines and precise logo shapes also imparts strength, professionalism and efficiency. Since the attributes mentioned above are tend to be viewed as masculine, so it’s not a coincidence that shape of a triangle feature more prominently in the logos of the companies whose products have a masculine bias. Vertical and Horizontal Lines - Our subconscious minds associate vertical lines with masculinity, strength and aggression, while horizontal lines with community, tranquility and calm. 

Brand Identity

Logos are considered to be the chief visual component of a company’s overall brand identity. The logo of a brand/ company appears in advertising, business cards, on stationery, and websites. Thus, a well-designed logo can contribute to business success, while a substandard logo can imply amateurishness and can turn off potential customers. But, is your logo performing its primary function – building recognition? When it is placed on your marketing collateral, does it really represent your company’s identity? Let us look on some rules for the brand which can help guide the process of creating and updating the logo. Finding the right fit - Is the logo appropriate for the company and the industry in which the company operates? Some industries follow a theme in terms of logos; if you are not in step with the competitors, you could get left behind. For example, in the brewery and restaurant industries, crest logo is very commonly used whereas in the graphic design industry, it’s becoming more common to see characters as a part of a logo. Avoiding the Special 

Effects - Usually, though the temptation to add drop shadows, gradients, and other effects is strong but one must try to resist the same. As in the past, logos were displayed only in controlled environments – billboards, companymade banners, letterhead and the like, so it was still possible to incorporate such elements. But today, the logo can end up just anywhere and thus the complex elements can’t be translated well from a printed advertisement to the company’s website. Developing Brand Guidelines - A company needs to ensure that they develop specific guidelines for the 
use of the logo. It includes the exact colour shades being used in the design, how much space should be kept around the borders of the logo. Also, the company should ensure the strict use of the high quality versions of the logo. This all is done to bring in consistency in the usage which in-turn aids the customer to remember the brand. Ensuring a smooth transition while changing of the logo - If the company is planning a change in the logo, or a roll out of a new one, an event should be made out of it. Generally, press releases and country wide event for the same are great ways to build awareness of the brand change among the employees as well as customers and to make them familiar with the new logo. 

Sneak-Peak in the Designing Process

To tackle the complex challenge of making a meaningful logo, many brands/ companies chose to hire an outside help. So, let us find out what it is like to create a logo from scratch i.e. what exactly goes into designing a logo? And how do the external designers manage to capture a brand’s or company’s personality into a simple image (logo)?

Let us see what are the principles of great logo design? 
Simplicity - The design needs to be simple and clean enough to be easily recognizable and flexible for making changes. 
Memorability - It should be quickly recognizable such that people may only have to spend a few moments to recall it when required. 
Timelessness - The logo should have a lifetime of upto atleast 10-20 years and preferably it should be relevant for the next 50 years. 
Versatility - It should be flexible enough to be scaled to different sizes without losing the quality. It should also be appropriate to be used across various media and within different context. 
Appropriateness - It should resonate with the target audience.

Example of a great Logo

Evernote’s logo is a great example which follows all the principles strictly which have been mentioned above. It comprises of an elephant which is a reference to the saying that, “An elephant never forgets”. Let us take a look at the recent happenings in terms of various companies changing their logos and the reason behind the same. One of the recent changes brought in was by Flipkart. With the new logo, the company believes that the logo reflects its aggressive focus on its mobile app.  The major change in the logo is that the word Flipkart is making way for the letter F which denotes ‘playfulness’ and ‘speed’. Flipkart has evolved itself into a more mobilecentric platform and thus it is making the mobile app an important gateway to India’s largest online marketplace. Another major component that Flipkart has changed is the common shopping cart present in almost every e-commerce logo/ website and has replaced it with a trendy yellow shopping bag which adds a 3D look to the logo. Another remarkable feature is the smile being made by the two dots and the white handle which is hidden. The smile reflects playfulness and joy and would be present to make an instant connect with the younger generation. Another recent example where the company has changed the Brand Identity as well the Company Logo and the Slogan is an online classified advertising company, Quikr. From the perspective of the design, the ‘Q’ in the Quikr logo has been designed like this to suggest a positive change in the users’ lives. The designer has retained the combination of blue and green colour as was used in the previous logo as the company is recognized for the same. Though the new font is contemporary, yet it is sleek posing a sense of speed which is implicit in the name Quikr.  
The story doesn’t end here. There is a harsh side of changing the logos as well which has led to a lot of criticism for some of the big brands. Tropicana is known for the image having a straw in the orange. When the company replaced the logo with a glass of orange juice and its name written on the edge of the carton, the customers went outrageous. Infact, the product’s sale went down by 20%. Then, a corrective measure was taken by the company to restore the old logo within a month. Customer found the new packing to be ugly, and actually as quoted by the President of Tropicana, they underestimated the emotional bond of the customers which has deepened over time with the previous logo. When we are discussion about the rebranding through the change of logo, we cannot miss the case of Pepsi which has spent $1.2 Billion on the rebranding, with the logo alone costing $1 million. Pepsi unveiled a new logo design, which had the company’s iconic circular logo rotated anticlockwise and a little bit of readjustment of the tilt of the white stripe. So this rebranding activity was considered to be a waste of time and money. 

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