Posted by

Cintia Miranda Cintia Miranda
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

edge contributor



The Marketing Edge - The basics of an effective brand

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Your logo (or brand) is the first thing a prospective customer sees. It can speak volumes about your company in the space of a few seconds. Consider this scenario: A potential contact is flipping through a magazine and catches a glimpse of your logo on an advertisement. You haven't had a chance to speak with them; they haven't visited your location or seen your product; they don't know your staff or salespeople; they probably haven't even read a word of your marketing copy - but that prospect has already made a judgment about your organization. And that snap judgment has a profound effect on whether or not they will consider doing business with you. You might offer products and services that are a perfect fit for them - but if your brand does not resonate with a potential customer, oftentimes they will never bother to dig deeper and discover that compatibility.

A smart marketer (and business owner) understands the value of a carefully-crafted brand image. It is the foundation on which all other marketing efforts are built. A poorly-executed or ill-fitting brand can sabotage an otherwise excellent product or campaign, simply because it fails to resonate with the target audience - imagine an expensive, high-quality box of hand-crafted chocolates with a picture of a cartoon bear on the wrapper. Yet many business owners make the mistake of rushing their logo. They go for the cheapest quote, accept the first design that looks halfway decent and call it a day. Don't make that mistake. Here are some tips to nailing the perfect brand.

Know your desired image (and nail it)

Is your company built around stoicism, tradition and a strong family history? Or is it about speed, cutting-edge technology and flexibility? Are your values conservative and refined or looser and free? What colors do you prefer to be associated with? What are other organizations in your industry using in their imagery? Do you want your brand to stand among them or stand apart from the crowd? Are there any visuals that carry a particularly strong positive connotation in your field? How about a negative connotation? Do you have an existing logo that you would like to depart from? Would you like to "honor" your past brand history by referencing it in your new image? What about your tagline? Your company name?

When choosing a brand, it is vitally important that you consider the implications of each element of the design. After all, your logo is more than your organization's name and a symbol that sort of fits it - it's your mark. Your image. Each brand creates an expectation in the viewer. A good marketer knows how to align that expectation with what your company can deliver, fostering confidence in your products and services.

But don't be afraid to listen to the experts

No one knows your company better than you, right? While it is certainly true that business owners have a unique knowledge of their enterprise, sometimes they can become sidetracked and settle on a brand that doesn't really work for their target market. Oftentimes, these owners will drive the design of their logo in a direction that dilutes the power of the original concepts. If the logo is a complete redesign of a pre-existing brand, they might grow fearful of change, and force the design to incorporate too many legacy elements. Or, they might be indecisive - instead of settling on a single concept, they struggle to combine three or four into a single logo that ultimately fails to communicate with their audience. Don't let that happen to you. The job of an agency is to create marketing solutions that work for both a firm and its customers.

Consider our earlier example of the expensive chocolates: If the business owner is dead-set on incorporating the cartoon bear into their logo and packaging, they run the (very real) risk of alienating potential customers. Our chocolatier might end up with a brand that they are quite happy with, but that fails to produce a return on investment. The chocolates go unsold, and the business fails. Remember, what resonates with you personally and what resonates with your target market are often completely different things. When in doubt, follow the market - that's where the money is.

Aim to be iconic (pass the squint test)

What makes a brand recognizable? Iconic? Memorable? Consider the logos of Nike, Apple and Google. What do they have in common? In a word: Simplicity. Many of our society's most recognizable brands are built from very basic shapes and arrangements. They create a unique identity from forms that are easily identified and that do not need to be seen up close and for a long period of time to be discerned. But how can you tell if your chosen brand is iconic enough? Try using something known as the squint test: If you squint your eyes so that your vision is blurred, can you still identify what you are looking at? Or is its nature lost along with the fine details? As a general rule of thumb, you'll want to avoid the following in your logo (but of course, there are always exceptions):

- Detailed artwork with fine lines and complicated shapes

- Over-use of gradients and complicated color palettes

- Dependence on photographic elements

- Overly-verbose copy - keep your company name and tagline short and simple

Design for multiple purposes (be versatile)

So, you've got a logo that looks great on the wall in your lobby. Your customers always comment on it when they walk in. But how does it look when scaled down for your business cards? On your website? Does it function equally well in black and white? How about in a single color? Can it be enlarged to fill a billboard? Have you even thought about these issues?

The bottom line: A logo that only works in one situation is a poor logo. Your brand goes wherever you go. Make sure you choose a design that works in as many situations as possible. A detailed sketch that looks fantastic on a poster will be reduced to an unidentifiable blur when printed on a business card. A photographic logo that looks great on brochures and printed advertisements will fall short when enlarged for a vehicle wrap, billboard or banner. When in doubt, think of future applications. And don't be afraid to have your agency design multiple versions of your logo, each for a different situation: A square "badge" for Facebook and web use; a horizontal "bar" layout for business cards and banners; a version with and without your tagline - you get the idea.

Cntia Miranda is the president of Pulse Marketing Agency. Learn more about her work at

Last modified on Friday, 01 June 2012 16:09


The Maine Edge. All rights reserved. Privacy policy. Terms & Conditions.

Website CMS and Development by Links Online Marketing, LLC, Bangor Maine