(originally published in The
Jerusalem Post, April 2003)
Branding: It's Not Just for Cattle
They surround you all day every day. No, not news reports
about Iraq -- logos. From the moment you uncap the toothpaste
in the morning, until you set your alarm clock at night,
virtually every object you see is emblazoned with a company
Do we, as consumers, really care whether our toothpaste
is manufactured by Colgate or by Brand X? It would seem we
do, even though both products are white, minty and get our
teeth reasonably clean. Or consider the cola wars. Many of
us maintain a distinct preference for a particular brand.
But how many -- if blind-folded and forced to take a taste
test -- would be able to correctly identify our favorite
from among a half-dozen others, all of which consist of fizzy
water mixed with the same main ingredients in about the same
proportions? Not many. So why the loyalty to a particular
And, of more immediate concern to you as the owner of a
business, how can you present your own company on
the Web as a unique "brand" -- that will
stand out among the many competitors offering similar products
It's a vast topic, encompassing many related issues: visual
identity, market niches, promotion methods, consumer loyalty,
etc. This article will address one small, but vital, component
of visual identity: logos.
The entire design of a Web site often takes its visual cue
from the appearance of the company's logo.
A business logo is a typographical mark intended to convey
not only the name of a company, but also its character. A
quick glance should convey the nature of the company that
the logo represents. (If your company or organization does
not yet have a logo -- or if the one it has seems so old-fashioned
or unsuitable that you want it redone -- have it designed
before you begin creating your Web site or as an additional
component of the site design.)
Here are some radical distinctions, just to get you started
- Formal or playful?
- Upscale or economy-minded?
- Traditional or modern?
A company manufacturing a product that is formal, upscale,
and traditional (for example, a luxury sedan) will have a
logo that is markedly different from a company producing
a cheap, faddish toy. And indeed the Mercedes-Benz
logo is not easily confused with the Mattel
logo. Even if you were to substitute the words "Brand
X" for the company names in both these logos, there
would still be no mistaking which is suitable for each company.
These distinctions are shown through choices in:
- Pictorial symbol (optional; many logos consist of a
logotype unaccompanied by a symbol)
What should you bear in mind when choosing a logo for your
company? These are a few of the major considerations:
- It should be unique enough to stand
out from the competition.
- It should be complex enough to make
duplication/forgery difficult. In other words, don't use
a simple square in a primary color next to the name set
in Word's default font.
- It should be simple enough that it
will be clear and legible in:
~ black & white (print ads, Yellow Pages directories),
~ small sizes (business cards),
~ poor resolution (faxes), and
~ from a distance (signage)
Once you've settled on a logo, use it effectively. Your
logo should appear on all pages of your Web site as well as
on all office collateral (business cards, letterheads and
envelopes, faxes, invoices, etc.) and any promotional material
(magnets, pens, notepads, etc.) -- and don't forget to also
print your Web site URL on all these items! Naturally, all
these elements should harmonize visually.
A few other issues to consider:
- Make sure that you purchase all logo rights from
- If your logo is designed by a Web designer, make sure
that you will receive digital files in
a program suitable for print applications (usually Freehand
or Illustrator). A web-ready logo is not suitable
- If you already have a logo -- and some degree of brand
awareness in the marketplace -- think twice before deciding
to replace it. It may not be worthwhile
to confuse present customers just for the sake of a "prettier" or "cooler" image.
Instead, make the most of what you have by reinforcing
the current logo with a more systematically coordinated
application of colors, fonts, etc. (On the other hand,
it's sometimes possible to apply subtle, but important,
modifications without sacrificing brand awareness. Many
major companies periodically refresh their logos in this
- Tag-lines, or slogans, are sometimes
incorporated into a logo. This can help when the company
name (for example if it's named after people: "Cohen
Brothers") gives no clue to the nature of the business.
- A special consideration for Israeli companies: You probably
want something that will be identifiable in foreign languages,
as well as in Hebrew. While a ligature (a logo composed
only of interconnected letters -- often initials) can be
an elegant solution for an English-name company, a Hebrew
ligature would be unintelligible in the international sphere.
- Whatever you choose as your logo, please don’t
include a "swoosh"! This symbol
has become such a cliché that it's a source of lampooning.
Some enterprising individuals have dedicated articles and
even entire Web sites to
cataloging "swooshed" logos.
Consistency is the key to successfully using a logo as part
of your branding efforts. Choose the best logo you can, then
apply it -- and your Web site URL -- to every item that leaves
Do you have any questions? Contact
me and I'll try to answer them in upcoming articles. Also,
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