December 13, 2018

What is a logo?

And how much should it cost?

The other day a potential client asked for a proposal for a logo design. I send him an email with my price for a single logo mark. I explained the deliverables and process and send the email off to him. The client hasn't replied yet whether or not it's a go. Which is why I am writing this article.

I made a classic mistake.

I took things for granted, I forgot to clarify the costs and explain why it would be worth their money (or not). To clarify I will explain a little bit about pricing, which is usually not about the price, but about understanding the value of how to make an impact.

Pricing is part of a strategy, both your strategy and my strategy and should be treated with respect to our business.

A simple logo should never be just a simple logo. Investing in a logo is a conscious business decision. This decision is based on the impact you see you can make at that moment in your business. Deciding that you want to have a logo (or redesign) means you see an opportunity to communicate with more focus and clarity with your audience, that you can (re)ignite your emotional connection.

So how do you know if your investment is worth it?

You can get a logo for very cheap and sometimes even for free. You might even get a very cheap logo that actually looks pretty cool. You probably will have your say, as a client, to how cool you want it to look. But a logo is not a form of coolness and you, the client, are no logo design expert (why else would you hire a designer to do the job?).
A logo is a device that gives your audience the opportunity to connect with your brand on an emotional level (often a combination of context and channels in which the logo appears).
The logo should always be designed with your company values, vision, and mission in mind. It is a visual representation of your brand which helps communicate your message, your mission, and your story, aligned with your audience, both strategically as well as visually.
The logo (although not the only device to do so but surely a primary one) gives your audience, your ambassadors, your tribe, your niche, the opportunity to participate in your story, a chance to support your mission and show they share values with your brand.

For a mission-driven company, a logo should never just be a logo. It should be an intentionally shared statement. If you don't feel this you might want to research how aligned your company is with your mission, vision, and values.

You have to provide relevant support, guidance, and tools for your audience to carry on your story through every channel and every touchpoint. You have to make it easy for them to share your story, to show they care about your mission, and that they are a proud member of your community. Once you have this system in place you need to listen, interact, and be open for change. Especially now, brands need to keep searching for focus, clarity, and simplicity and the best way to do that is by opening up, listening, talking, and not being afraid to show your inside on your outside.

This is where you will see the value of your logo and understand the value of your investment. A logo is not just an image you get for free, or €200,-, €400,-, or €800,-. So what is the value of you logo or redesign?

What should be your priority right now?

I'm not saying that paying €800,- for a logo is always the best option. Sometimes I would even recommend starting with a cheap logo, perhaps for the first few months, sometimes even years, because it's not yet worth the investment. Your budget is sometimes better spent at finding your market and opening up channels to connect with your niche. Like I said at the start, it's a conscious business decision where you have to decide where you can create the biggest impact for your budget at that particular moment. Often, especially with early-stage startups, the first thing to invest in is a website or a place for your tribe to find you. It can also be a social media channel where your investment would be best served in ads or other ways to gather information about your audience and to show them you are there for them. It also depends on the market you are entering. The more saturated the market the more important your story and identity become in order to stand out from the crowd. As a more disruptive company, you probably should invest in your product or service more than in your branding. This is because your biggest impact is with your product or service and you want to reach and capture your audience before other companies start to copy you. Your disruptive product or service is what sets you apart, what makes you unique. Use that as your advantage. Once people are using your product or service they will less likely change to your competitor. When competitors start entering your market or when you have your product or service running smoothly and it's attracting clients it is time to focus on your essence. Who are you, who are you for? What are your values? A clear product or service placement, combined with a strong branding will make sure you outlive the competition or might even set you completely apart within the market.

  1. I'm purposefully saying communicated and not designed, although good design understands communication and the underlying brand strategy, but I'll leave the design part for another article.

If you are currently in a saturated market, or if you are a disruptive company and have a clear product and service, but you don't have a clear mission statement yet, haven't really got a clear picture of your company values, you are always welcome for a chat to see how you can make an even bigger impact.

November 7, 2018

Where can we find an impact-driven influencer?

Where can we find an impact-driven influencer? Influencers and influencer marketing are more and more becoming a part of our work as brand designers. Clients ask about it, we talk about it with colleagues and people in our business, it comes up at lunch. To be very honest, I have mixed feelings about working with influencers. Why? A couple of days ago someone on Instagram was asking for people who knew influencers who were truly authentic and purpose-driven. We basically concluded there are a lot of good people of influence, but finding a legit influencer (who carries the job title "influencer"), who is truly intentional about their impact, is a lot harder to find.

“Influencers mostly influence people's self-esteem and body image into a serious depression.”

I just can't find a truly fitting impact-aware influencer. They all say they are guided by strong values, are purpose-driven, have a mission to be a force for good, want to help everybody to be a personal brand to become the change they want to see, are life-coaches who help people become a better version of themselves, etc.. 99% of them are girls in their 20's who look good, spend a lot of time on holidays, and basically show the rest of the world how to live the perfect life. I think Influencers mostly influence people's self-esteem and body image into a serious depression.

As long as I haven't found the right influencers I can't take part in this. I feel like influencers are watering down what marketing and branding should be about. It should not be about adding noise, it should not be for the masses, not for growth, it should be about adding meaning for those who are looking for it. I feel it's our responsibility as brand designers, marketers, communication specialists to be very intentional in our work and be very aware of the impact our work creates.

We have to be intentional. Aware of what we build, how we build it, who we influence and in what way. It's not just about the influence we have on our Instagram followers, but also our colleagues, employees, and their families. Branding should be clear, aligned, and inspirational to everybody in your circle of influence in every way. If a post can have a negative impact on someone or a group, don't do it, or stand by it. Don't slack and just post your product next to a pretty girl on a beach because it's what others do and it gets you the likes you think you need. It adds to the noise.

Be intentional. Protect those who you influence. Protect where you play. Always. I believe that teaching this to our clients is part of our job in branding, marketing, communication. We have to make this clear not just to the designer we are working with, but to his CEO. In every business, it has to be the essence of the culture. Take care of each other. Make room for support. Make it clear and actionable.

Please take care of those you influence. Protect where you play. Always.

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