creating a brand behind the story

Telling a story is an important element of any news content you are looking to share. But what about your brand behind your story?  Marketers often focus more on the elements of the story they are trying to tell rather than concentrating on the image they are trying to provoke in their consumers mind. To establish credibility with your target audience, your story needs to provide a richer context to your brand by connecting to consumers with emotion and relevance.  Your brand has a direct connection.

I don’t know about you, but after I hear a news story and think of the company behind it, it’s the image of the company logo that always pops up in my mind. If I say “OJ Simpson and car rental”, what do you think of? What image comes to mind with words “iPhone” or “Steve Jobs”? What about “hand held device outage”? It’s often the company logo that will be associated with the story that is long remembered. We asked brand identity expert, Loreto Cheyne of Lola Design some fundamental questions about creating a brand behind the story… Here’s what she had to say.   

They say image is everything. How important is a brand to a company?

Extremely. Regardless of the size of your company, your brand is “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Your brand is the place you occupy in people’s minds-and it can be an emotional connection, or reaction to your company. Your brand image specially is the public face of your company. Take Victoria’s Secret: their brand is “sexiness.” Everything about Victoria’s Secret reinforces that, from their products (visually) to their very attractive, half-naked models. You notice their ads on television don’t advertise their flannel pyjamas, although they sell some!

Should your logo tell a story?

It should trigger some kind of emotional reaction, hopefully the one that describes your brand. The worst thing is for a logo to be so generic that it doesn’t matter what the company/service/product actually is. Back in the 90’s we went through a period were all the logos being designed were “inspired by the Nike swoosh” or a version of a “swirly man.” It got to the point where a huge number of logos had some kind of swirly human illustration, holding hands with others or circling the earth-regardless of what the company/organization was about. There’s nothing wrong with an abstract design, but at its core, it must say something about the company, however subconsciously.

What message should it convey?

Your logo should aim to convey your company’s core brand message. If you haven’t defined this before working with your design team, then you really have your work cut out for you. Your designer should ask you about your target audience, the kind of perception you’d like your logo to evoke in people, and in general, the emotions you want to evoke from your potential clients. For example, the Ottawa Humane Society is a cartoon based logo, featuring a dog and a cat. It’s not too serious, and it aims to evoke “warm & fuzzy” feelings so that its audience can feel it’s a friendly, happy place.

What elements were considered when creating our spice logo?

When creating the spice logo, a number of things were considered. The most important was to keep its “roots” firmly based on the “parent logo”, StorylinePR. That’s why one of the fonts from StorylinePR was used. The colours from the parent logo were also important. But the key element was in its final format-it had to be contemporary, clean and simple-no two ways about it. Because the spice logo is specific to social media, it had to be modern by today’s standards. With subject matter like this, it simply couldn’t have a hint of “old-fashioned!”

How do you think social media impacts how a brand is represented?

Social media has a huge impact in how a brand is represented. For the first time, companies have the chance to actively interact with and engage their customers. That means they can create dialogues around complaints, issues, or compliments! Unfortunately, some companies forget that social media is yet another layer in the marketing mix that has to be addressed. And as part of that marketing strategy, social media should be consistent with the rest of the media used. This is one area where you need to be organized and somewhat “militant” about your brand image standards. You want to create that level of comfort & consistency in your audience’s mind, where they “know” it’s their favourite brand they’re interacting with, not some fake account. It’s also important for social media sites to mirror the overall tone of the core brand message; if a company is serious, conservative, formal, then its social media sites should reflect that. Just because you’re on Facebook doesn’t mean your company can all of a sudden start posting funny jokes, or using insulting, profane language.

My favourite logos are word or text-based logos. How important do you feel creativity is in the design?

I think creativity is extremely important! But in the case of logos particularly, the creative “genius” comes from designing a solution that addresses all of the client’s issues, and doesn’t just come up with a “never-before-seen” concept. A logo that addresses the right target market, is unique and distinctive, manages to be clever, and does so with simplicity is a winning logo that will last for years. Right now the trend is definitely towards type-driven logos, which makes it even harder to be creative, clever and achieve a visual uniqueness at the same time-but that challenge is part of the fun.

From a design perspective, what advice do you have for someone who is considering a new design or re-brand?

From a design perspective, I would have to say “don’t be fooled by Flash or Photoshop”. A great number of designers insist on creating logos in Flash or Photoshop, neither of which are the industry standard. Get a vector-based logo, insist that your designers use Illustrator or CorelDraw. Another thing is to KEEP IT SIMPLE. And please avoid visual clichés. I can’t recall the number of dentists that use a molar as a logo, but it’s not all that unique or creative. Also, your logo doesn’t have to visually depict your product…if you sell computers, your logo doesn’t need an illustration of a computer!

What are tell-tale signs it’s time to update your logo for your brand?

Signs that you need to update your logo are a bit tough. If YOU have a feeling it’s time, start asking around; and don’t ask your family and friends. They love you and won’t want to hurt your feelings. Ask your clients, your suppliers, your staff, your industry colleagues. They’ll be a lot more objective and truthful! However, one yardstick you can use is your own eye. If it takes longer than about 2 seconds (I’m not kidding) to “read” or “take in” all the elements of your logo, then you have a problem. Likewise, if your logo is made up of several items, and you have to take the time to figure out what they are & what they mean, it’s time. If your logo has a tagline or a phone number or other irrelevant items attached to it (yes, it happens!) it’s time to clean it up. If your logo is cluttered, and you feel like taking a Swiffer to it, then it’s time! The most important thing is to keep your eyes open to the trends in visual communication, and what other people (ie. paying customers, not your cousins) are saying about your logo.

What are examples of your favourite logos and can you connect the brand to a story?

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