Sometimes I have very insightful conversations with close friends who are fellow design professionals, and sometimes those conversations inspire a bit of writing out of me. This is one of those instances. I feel that sometimes companies just don’t understand the importance of their brand. Your brand can tend to be just as important as what your company does, especially if you’re a company in a very competitive market. For this bit of writing, I’ll use one of the best branding examples out there, Nike. Nike’s obviously not the only company in the shoe department. But when you think of Nike, what comes to mind? A swoosh and shoes, their logo and what they do. And as a designer, that’s the goal with all branding projects.
The first step is to get some ‘me’ time, really turn your gaze inward, not outward. When trying to build a brand, a client’s first reaction is typically to want to know what the competition is doing. You should be focusing more on how to get people to remember your company for what do. Nike’s goal isn’t to get people to look at their product and branding, and think “This kind of makes me think of Adidas, but it might be better.” What they want is for a potential customer not even to think of Adidas or any other brand at all. They want someone to be thinking about a Nike shoe before they even make their way to a Foot Locker, right as the need arises. Companies need to individualize themselves, not to potentially be used as a basis for comparison.
Next in the process, the basics. You need to boil your company down to the very core of what it does. That’s where you find it, that idea that’s so incredibly simple yet can intricately and immediately describe your company, right at the first glance. Some clients have trouble with this, and tend to want to over complicate things with weighty details. Again, with Nike, you have the swoosh. Simple. The swoosh represents movement, one of the very core ideas of the shoe and it’s inclusion in the flow of our everyday lives. A concept so elementary to understand, but nearly impossible to forget. That’s what you should want out of your logo. Whatever it is you do, you want to find that one perfectly clever way to grasp someone’s attention and make them never forget. The simpler the concept, the easier it will be for someone to retain and remember your company, especially when the time comes that they need your services. A logo is just the seed of an idea waiting to be planted in the mind of it’s viewer.
Lastly, variety. A logo not only has to hold an idea, but also must be able to quickly portray this idea on whatever medium it finds itself a part of. Whether big, small, colored, black and white, on paper, on a screen, or any of the other endless possibilities, it still needs to be able to effectively do it’s job. A logo shouldn’t be suited for just one scenario. It must be timeless, and future proof in it’s application. It must have the ability to convey it’s idea in any situation. Whether it shows up in a magazine, on a banner on the side of the webpage you’re viewing, or on the side of a bus; whatever the case a logo typically has but a few seconds to make it’s mark. Which all just goes back to point one and two, relevance and simplicity.
There’s a lot of other thought and process that goes into the branding of a company, but anytime I find myself with the exciting task of branding a company, I try and keep those simple points in mind. A client should always be made aware of how important their branding is. Your company’s branding is one of those instances in life where a large amount of people judge a book by it’s cover. With the ever shortening attention span of the digital age, people tend to be very quick to pass judgement. Your branding can sometimes be the deciding factor in that next client’s phone call. This is all just a touch of insight into my mental process, as well as some food for thought. Over time I’ve come to realize that in the beginning, branding can just seem like a needless process to a new company, one more pointless hurtle to jump. When really it’s a lifelong visual identifier to the very essence of your company, your foundation.