Your logo and your brand: How important are they?

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Services such as 99designs.com can provide a logo for a few hundred dollars. You can save even more by contracting directly offshore, or finding a local student or family member to help.These approaches are rational if your business is small, because in my opinion while a professional logo will help,, it won't make or break your business brand. Your real client experience and public reputation are far more important considerations.
Services such as 99designs.com can provide a logo for a few hundred dollars. You can save even more by contracting directly offshore, or finding a local student or family member to help.These approaches are rational if your business is small, because in my opinion while a professional logo will help, it won’t make or break your business brand. Your real client experience and public reputation are far more important considerations.

Darren Slaughter’s recent blog posting about logo design and branding raises an important question. How important are they to your business?

He writes:

When branding your company, you want to grab someone’s attention. Seeing your work truck or van should leave a subconscious memory that people will think of later. This is especially true if you are a contractor, as often people will call you during a stressful time (such as when their basement is flooded or their roof is damaged).

During such times, people are going to be anxious to get their problem fixed, and have a tendency to open the phonebook and call the first name they see. Unless your name is “Aaronson,” this could be a problem-unless people remember seeing your brand.

A distinct logo also makes your brand look more professional, which will increase the likelihood that someone will go with you over the competition, as most people associate a professional brand with quality work. In addition, if you are offering a special or special service (such as a warranty), associating this with your brand will increase business. If you’ve ever said, “You know, I saw that X is offering a percentage off. Let’s try them out,” you know what I mean.

There’s a reason companies spend millions each year on branding-it increases business. No matter how small your business, you can benefit from branding. When determining your brand, make sure to remember that your logo should be unique and your tag lines should make people associate you with quality service. Creating a proper brand can make the difference between a successful business and a mediocre one.

And he is right, to a point, in my opinion.

If there is a single metric that explains marketing’s value to your business, it would be brand equity or “brand value” — that is, the memorable element of your business that adds value, reduces sales resistance and enhances lead flow and price/margin levels. In other words, if your brand is good, you should sell more, at a higher margin, and over time (allowing for the relatively small number of individual sales and their individual high value) be measurable in your company’s bottom line.

brand equity
A montage of Google-searched images related to the keyword “brand equity”

But how important is your logo to the branding/profitability process?

Here, the answer may be less-than-simple. Yes, a professional logo that matches/expresses and extends your company’s image can really be useful, and periodically, you should review the logo design and your overall corporate image. But this element really reflects the smallest aspect of your branding story. The foundation, ultimately, will be your client experience and genuinely earned public reputation.

As an example, consider the scandal involving certain suppliers and contractors for The Ottawa Hospital. If you had looked at these companies’ websites (and their logos) a few months ago, you wouldn’t have seen anything wrong. Now, the logos (and certain testimonials) are identified with the alleged evil-doings including inflated sole-source contracts, kickbacks, bid-rigging and other nasty stuff. (Thee allegations haven’t been proven in court, but the local media, free from the fear of libel actions because the allegations have been made in public court filings, are having a field day trashing the reputations of the businesses involved in the controversy.)

In my opinion, if you are running or starting a small business, you can contract with a local or offshore designer — you might even have a family friend who can do the work — to create a decent logo for you, or use online services to create a competition where you will have many contenders for what will be a reasonably inexpensive (less than a few hundred dollars) task. Consider 99designs.com for example. (In our case, we’ve worked with our long-term designer, who gave us a few choices for our regional construction titles, which we tested through a quick client survey before implementing the current version.)

You’ll want to refresh/redesign your logo periodically when there are material changes underlying the message; but this is an infrequent process. (A good example of when you’ll need to consider a change would be a corporate merger or significant revision of your primary market focus.) Over time, of course, your logo will represent a tiny percentage of your overall marketing and business development budget, so you can certainly give it some thought and attention. But a really good logo won’t help — and in fact could aggravate — negative image associations if you fail in your client experience/ethics. Keep its relative unimportance in mind when you develop your marketing and business strategies.

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