Few things in the world of corporate brands evoke more passionate debate than a new logo. And few meetings are as painful for the creative team.
“It’s hard to read. What font is that?” asks an executive, squinting at the screen upon which the agency have projected their latest iteration of the new company logo. “It’s type! Not font!” something inside me screams, while I work on keeping an appropriately neutral professional face.
The name is too small, the graphic too big. The colours are too dull, or perhaps too bright. And just what does that swoosh represent anyway?
Brand meetings are tough. Everybody has an opinion and emotions tend to run high. At times like these I’ve seen even conservative financial officers and deep-thinking strategists lose their cool. All over a few letters, graphic symbols and colours. Perhaps because the logo is the most visual representation of a brand, it evokes more gut reactions and personal turf wars than any other aspect of a company’s identity. Other brand elements like name and positioning, arguably at least as important, are less subject to debate.
Logo, an abbreviation of logotype, from the Greek word logos, is a graphic mark, emblem or symbol commonly used by commercial enterprises and organizations to aid and promote instant public recognition. Logos are either purely graphic symbols or icons, or include the name of the organization in a logotype or wordmark.
The problem is that the logo is not the brand, although most people think of it that way. The logo is the visible tip of the massive iceberg that is the brand, 80% of which is hidden below the surface. Who are you, where have you come from, how do you work, and more importantly, think? What are your values? How do your customers see you? All of these combine to create brand. A new logo does not a brand make, although it can go a fair way towards helping you build one. read more
In my former job working in communications for Merck’s biopharma division, I struggled daily with the company name.
Here’s the thing: I did not work for Merck & Co. — aka the American Merck, the bigger of the two and the one that 99% of people assume you mean when they hear the name.
My employer was Merck KGaA. Ah, the German Merck, people would say. Yes, the original Merck, its family owners would have you know. The world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. They didn’t really care that they were dwarfed in size by their bigger American cousin. They had the legal rights to the name everywhere in the world but in North America, and they used it with pride. And if people didn’t understand, well…that was their problem.
While I understood their position from a historic point of view, as a communicator it was counter-intuitive. We PR folk want a solid base upon which to build our brand’s reputation, a clearly differentiated identity and strengths compared to competitors. The confusion around ‘Which Merck?’ only served to water down anything we had to say about the company. read more
You often hear the expression in French, “Le cordonnier est toujours le plus mal chaussé.” The English translation, while not often used, is “The cobbler’s children have no shoes.” Meaning that those who do something for a living often neglect their own needs.
I decided not to be an example of this when starting my own business. Creating and building a brand was top priority. How else would I be able to sell myself as a copywriter who believes that identity – and thus brand – is the driving force behind all communication?
It’s still early days and my brand development is a work-in-progress but I’ve managed to lay the foundations of a solid professional identity.
Here is my approach to building a brand, summarized in 5 key questions: read more