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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

How to Create an Awesome Company Logo

Last week, Fire Enterprises (FEI) marketing maven Marka showed the FEI tribe how to build powerful brand elements. This week, Marka and the tribe discuss creating an awesome new company logo for FEI. Remember, fire=print.

FEI’s morning marketing meeting had begun. Marka stood before fellow tribe members Numo, Zoot, and Org. “Today we’re talking about logos,” Marka said.

“Logos, my old golfing buddy?” Zoot asked. “By Zeus, I haven’t seen him in forever. How’s the old dog been? Is he coming?”

“Not that kind of logos, Zoot,” Marka said. “Although the word logo—as in a company’s logo—does originally derive from the original Greek word ‘lego,’ which means ‘I say.’ This makes sense, since our logo really is ‘speaking’ for our company, in a way. If we create a memorable logo, it’ll become a kind of visual shorthand for FEI and all we offer to the marketplace. Logos are visual representations of intended branding messages, and they play critical roles in building brand equity and awareness. It’s important that FEI’s logo stands out and accurately represents how we want to be perceived.”

“What should our logo look like?” Org asked.

“Remember when we came up with the three attributes that defined our brand?” Marka asked.

“Sure do!” Zoot said. “Dependability, innovation, and superb quality are the essence of the FEI brand.”

“FEI’s logo design must derive from these three defining qualities,” Marka said. “When customers look at our logo, our key brand attributes should immediately come to mind.”

 “A logo can be as straightforward as the letters ‘FEI’ written in a distinctive font, or as abstract as a design or symbol that doesn’t even feature our company’s name,” Marka continued. “These options—and everything in-between—are on the table, as long as whatever we come up with effectively represents our brand attributes.”

“Let’s discuss how we can represent these brand attributes through different elements of our logo,” Marka said.
Marka scribbled on the whiteboard:

• Color—The logo color scheme we choose must represent both reliability and innovation. A basic white or grey says reliability to me. What color says innovation to you, tribe?

“A roaring red!” Zoot cried.

“Ah ha,” Marka said. “Like a fire. Including both dependable gray and go-go-innovator bold red will send a powerful brand message: While FEI works tirelessly to come up with the new innovations that make our customers’ lives easier, we never forget the basics of prompt delivery and excellent service.”

Marka scribbled more on the whiteboard.

• Font—Our current logo spells out “FEI” in flames. While using a “flame” font certainly makes sense for our business, fire doesn’t connote dependability. Fires are flickering, unstable, and eventually go out—these are not adjectives we want associated with our business.

“Fire doesn’t call to mind innovation either,” Zoot said. “Maybe it did two generations ago, back when the technology was new and Prometheus was still selling it door to door. Today’s it’s considered a mature technology.”

“Perhaps we can ditch the flame font,” Numo said. “And simply use an orangey-red font for FEI. Because of the strong brand association between ‘FEI’ and fire, maybe we can count on customers to connect the dots.”

“Not so sure about that,” Org said. “New businesses - and potential FEI customers—are popping up in Olympus every day. I want someone who’s never heard of FEI to take one look at our logo and know exactly what we do.”

Marka returned to the whiteboard and scribbled some more.

• Other Design Elements—
Customers should glance at our logo and immediately think “reliability, innovation, and supreme quality,” Other than what’s already been discussed, what elements can we include to help create this effect?

“What about using a real-world object to symbolize our reliability?” Zoot asked. “For example, The First National Olympus Bank’s symbol is just a big rock with their initials—FNOB—carved into it.”

“The logo works perfectly for them—sturdy and powerful is exactly the message they want to send,” Marka said. “We have a tougher challenge, as we have to connote both reliability and forward thinking.”

“I’ve got it,” Zoot said. “To illustrate our innovativeness, we could have Org Edison standing on top of our logo, holding a beaker of his Nestos Fever vaccine.”

“Zoot, I love the creativity, but that sounds like a clunky design,” Marka said. “Also, Org Salk came up with the Nestos Fever vaccine, not Edison. However, I think you’re on the right track. Let’s think of something that symbolizes what FEI stands for.”

After the tribe brainstormed for a bit, Zoot snapped his fingers. “I got it. Let’s place each letter F-E-I in Doric, Ionic and Corinthian columns. The letters will be colored in a bold red fire-like font. Then we’ll use warm fire-like ghosting inside each letter and shade the edges of each letter and column with a shadowing effect.”

Zoot snatched the coal from Marka’s hand and sketched out his proposed design on the whiteboard. “Ooh, let me see if I get it,” Marka said. “The simple but powerful Doric column represents the reliability we’ve always been known for. The Ionic column, with its beautiful scroll-like embellishments at the capital and base, represents the supreme level of product quality we deliver. Finally, the ornate and elaborate Corinthian column signals FEI’s innovation, our willingness to test out and embrace bold new ideas.”

“You forgot the design effects,” Zoot said. “The bold red font suggests innovation, the flames suggests fire, but the ghosting and shadowing indicates that we’re warm and customer-oriented…not in-your-face like Pyro.”

“Brilliant, Zoot,” Marka said.

Org stared at the logo for a moment. Marka and Zoot watched in nervous anticipation as their boss ruminated. “I don’t like it,” he said. Zoot sighed. “I love it.”

“Woo hoo!” Zoot and Marka cheered.

At that moment, a tubby fellow in a toga walked in the room. “Hey, you guys having a party?”

“Logos!” Zoot cried. “I had a feeling you’d show up.”

“Oh, brother.” Marka rolled her eyes.

Next week: Marka and the tribe discuss creating a compelling tagline and the company messaging to accompany it.

Today’s FIRE! Point
Consider overall look, color, font, and other factors when coming up with a new logo. Your logo design should derive from your brand attributes.

FIRE! In Action: Simplicity in Logo Design Works
What’s in a logo? Apple’s current logo could hardly be simpler. And it’s become one of the most recognizable in the world, building brand awareness and equity for the company everywhere. Would Apple’s old, complicated logo have fared as well? It’s impossible to say for sure, but certainly the simplicity of Apple’s current logo is a big reason why it became so iconic.

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