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What’s in a logo? In the world of branding, everything. A logo is the identifying symbol for a company that serves as a snapshot for what that company – stands for – or represents.
Typically, a logo is comprised of stylized, colored text and, in many cases, an accompanying image. The combination of the Nike – name and the – swish – logo, for example, conveys movement, speed and spirit. The MasterCard – logo expresses global usability in warm, inviting colors. The bright red and white Coca-Cola – logo symbolizes smooth, free-flowing refreshment in a classic palette. Marketing nirvana is attained when a brand becomes so easily recognizable and generates so much resonance with its target audience that it positively influences purchase activity for any product to which it is attached. Nike, for instance, started out as a running shoe company. Today, the Nike brand extends across every fitness category imaginable.
Sometimes, logos for new companies are created in direct opposition to other, entrenched logos. For example, compared to the block-lettered, imposing, corporate-leaning presence of the IBM – logo, the logo for Apple – aims for a fun, friendly, engaging experience with a nod toward learning and education – consistent with Apple’s interest in attracting an audience of hip, savvy early adopters of new technology.
But what about you? Most of us are not going to find our names splashed over a billboard or stitched into ball caps. But all of us can utilize the same logo creation techniques to create a branding short cut for our most defining Brand Element: our name.
Your Personal Brand Logo
Although there are no hard and fast rules, a logo is generally comprised of three components: color, font treatment and an optional image. As we explore these components, keep in mind your own name or pseudonym and think of how you can create your own Personal Brand logo for fun and profit.
Choosing a color for your name brand is deceptively easy and crucially important. Color has influenced buying decisions for millennia, often with intricate interpretations assigned to the slightest variance of color. The internet is filled with sites purporting to have the last word on color psychology, but I’ll include the listing below adapted from the listing in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org).
Gray: On a positive note, Gray can mean elegance, humility, respect, reverence, stability, subtlety, timelessness, and wisdom. On the negative side, however, Gray can be interpreted as anachronism, boredom, decay, decrepitude, dullness, dust, pollution, and urban sprawl.
White: Positively, White can mean reverence, purity, snow, peace, innocence, cleanliness, simplicity, security, humility, marriage, sterility, and the joy of winter. Concerned the down side of white? Think coldness, sterility, clinicism, surrender, cowardice, fearfulness, the yucky side of winter, and unimaginative.
Black: One of fashion’s most popular colors, Black symbolizes modernity, power, sophistication, formality, elegance, wealth, mystery (in a good way), and style. However, it can also mean evil, death, fear, anonymity, anger, sadness, remorse, mourning, unhappiness, and mystery (in a bad way).
Red: Often used by category leaders, red demonstrates passion, strength, energy, fire, love, sex, excitement, speed, heat, leadership, masculinity, and power. On the down side, red can imply danger, fire, gaudiness, blood, war, anger, revolution, radicalism, aggression, and STOP!
Blue: Calming blue is attributed to seas, skies, peace, unity, harmony, tranquility, calmness, coolness, confidence, water, ice, loyalty, conservatism, dependability, cleanliness, technology, and winter. However, blue can also contribute to feelings of depression, coldness, idealism, obscenity, ice, tackiness, and, the downside of winter..
Green: An ever-more popular color in today’s environmentally-focused times, Green conveys nature, spring, fertility, youth, environment, wealth, money (US), good luck, vigor, generosity, go!, and grass. Looking for some negatives about Green? Try aggression, inexperience, envy, misfortune, jealousy, money, illness, and greed.
Yellow: Yellow connotes sunlight, joy, happiness, optimism, idealism, wealth (gold), summer, hope, and air. On the downside, however, yellow can imply cowardice, illness (quarantine), hazards, dishonesty, avarice, sissification, and weakness.
Purple: Ah, glorious purple. Purple can mean sensuality, spirituality, creativity, wealth, royalty, nobility, ceremony, mystery, wisdom, and enlightenment. However, it can also portray arrogance, flamboyance, gaudiness, mourning, profanity, exaggeration, and confusion – so use with care!
Orange: Orange can convey Buddhism, energy, balance, heat, fire, enthusiasm, flamboyance, and playfulness. Alternatively, orange can mean aggression, arrogance, too much flamboyance, gaudiness, overemotion, warning, danger, and fire.
Brown: Feeling in a brown mood? Think calm, depth, natural organisms, nature, richness, rusticism, stability, and tradition. However, brown can also imply anachronism, boorishness, dirt, dullness, filth, heaviness, poverty, and roughness.
Which color appeals to you? Keep in mind that it’s for your Brand – and that your Brand’s job is to sell you. So even if you feel like your predominant color is thundercloud gray, if you want your Brand to announce you as Mary Sunshine, the gray has to go.
Ask any commercial designer: careful font selection is key to creating an effective logo. There are literally thousands of fonts available on the internet, and one of my favorite sites, linotype (www.linotype.com) allows you to test drive your font in whatever word or words you choose.
Of course, the most natural and original font style for your Personal Brand is your own signature. However, not all of us have handwriting styles that we like or that play well across all media (print, website, fabric, etc.) By purchasing a commercially prepared font, you have the benefit of a designer’s skill, and can size your font up or down depending on your needs.
But on to the font itself. What speaks to you? A loopy or hard edged font? Feminine or masculine? Gothic or contemporary or childlike? Consider your brand as well. Are you selling romance novels or machine parts? Toys or sports cars? What you’re selling and how you want to sell it are important considerations as you choose the font that’s right for you.
Once you’ve picked a color and a font treatment, the next question is your icon, or a graphical image to represent you and your Brand. A crimson, Goth-lettered Mary Smith set off by a gleaming dagger tells a much different story than a hot pink contemporary Mary Smith cuddled up to a pair of kicky high heels – which tells a completely different tale than a bright orange kid-friendly Mary Smith bracketed by lime green child’s hand prints. Get the picture? So will your audience.
A few icon examples are listed below – and note, as you consider the right graphic for you, think charm bracelets and tattoos, not Renaissance artwork. The simpler the image, the better!
Checkmarks, exclamation points, quote marks, dollar signs or other common symbols we see in text documents
Light bulbs and lightning bolts
Daggers, bombs, guns, weapons of mass or individual destruction
Tools of a given Craft or Skill (paint brush, writing implements, musical instrument)
Eyeglasses, martini glasses, looking glasses, sunglasses
Accessories, such as shoes, purses, hats or jewelry
Religious symbols or tools
Paranormal or Magic symbols
Symbols of wealth, strength or power
Symbols of youth – balloons, toys, baby bottles
Symbols of a Season – from kites to snowflakes to umbrellas to swirling leaves
Animal figures, totems or faces
Natural elements, such as wind, air, fire, water, trees, plants, flowers, rainbows
Cosmic elements such as moon, stars, sun, comets, planets
Cars and trucks and things that go
Occupational gear such as a badge, fireman’s hat, stethoscope, magnifying glass
Photo or representational icon/avatar
Couple any of these with your name and you’ve already made a statement!
Now that you’ve put together your – name brand – , what you do next is up to you. You can
a) Use your logo image in your correspondence, promotional materials and website, or
b) Use it for yourself. Print it out and post it up on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror or closet door. By reminding yourself of your brand in a graphic and appealing way, you help ensure you consistently represent yourself to others. If you have any specific questions, please don’t hesitate to email me.