Corporate Branding: Let’s Just Use Someone Else’s Cool Logo, Ok?

August 2, 2016 - 7 minutes read
corporate-branding - imitation-logos - Alberts Illustration & Design

A logo design that reminds people of someone else will ensure that your brand is forgotten quickly!

Corporate branding is about DIFFERENTIATION, telling the world how you stand out from your competitors. A unique, original idea needs to be expressed in a unique logo. Here are some of the reasons…

Corporate Branding Requires Originality

Why shouldn’t our logo look like the other brands?

  • Differentiation: The goal is to gain a competitive advantage, by showcasing your UNIQUE features. And features like price and good customer service are not differentiators. They are not what makes a business unique. Competing solely on price is a losing game. In fact, as John Jantsch says in The Referral Engine [pp26-27], “Remarkable businesses generally lie on the upper end of the norm when it comes to pricing. …Every widely referred [i.e., talked about, standout] business I interviewed was one of the highest priced options in their respective markets and felt no pressure to compete on price.”
  • Your advantage is your Unique Selling Proposition — what you offer that the others do not. This needs to be communicated in your branding. Why would you want to be mistaken for one of your competitors?
  • Don’t be just another face in the crowd: I can speak from personal experience. When I launched my freelance business, I was careful to present myself as “conservatively” as possible, always showcasing as many art styles and capabilities as I could. I still joke about being the “Anything for a Buck Artist.” But the intent at the time was solely to fit in. Still fresh in my mind was the job-hunting and interview routine, trying to become whatever an employer needed (not just do the task, but be the ideal all-purpose candidate for employment). Anything that might make me appear different — independence, passion, individuality — was kept hidden. BIG. MISTAKE.

Make an EMOTIONAL connection

Someone else’s logo will probably not convey what your logo needs to convey. As we saw in the previous post, Branding Your Business, we need to connect with your audience on an emotional level, and make a memorable first impression. In a preliminary Questionnaire that I present to new customers, I ask them questions such as “What would you like people to think of when they see your brand?” and “What differentiates your brand from your competitors?” We are aiming for a connection with your future customers. The artwork, colors and style will support this message and make it visually appealing (Translation: Stand out! Get seen! Be remembered!), but the core message needs to be clearly articulated first.

Copyright Violation is Not Cool

Nothing says “We’re fresh and original” like plagiarism! You can protect YOUR logo if it’s unique. You will not be open to charges of copying if you did not copy. In designing a logo, my first step is to search extensively for what has already been done, so that we have the best chance of creating something entirely new. That unique image of yours can then be protected by copyright. For instruction in what not to do, I highly recommend for examples of un-originality at best, and blatant theft at worst.

Corporate Branding - Danger Dust Logo - Alberts Illustration & Design... Unique Selling Proposition Of A Brand

The Unique Selling Proposition for Danger Dust spices? The Jalapeño, with a dark, peppery Tex-Mex flavor. Thus the Jalapeño “Texas twister.”

Your Unique Idea Needs To Be Expressed

That unique idea of yours is worth the extra time and research. Search Google for “unique logo design” and you get mass-production sites! Those sites that sell $50 logos are selling those same designs, over and over.

As part of the design process, I always ask my customers to show me examples of logos that they really admire. The answers are often “Target” or “Wal-Mart” because those are simple, clean-looking, and — thanks to billion-dollar promotional budgets — easily recognized. But when we dig deeper into WHY they like a logo, the answer is (surprise!) the feeling it gives them. As creative partners, we are indeed looking for what works, what the best logos look like, and what we can learn from them. We can then take what the customer admires most about the logos, and apply those great ideas (concepts, colors, styles) to a NEW, original, professional design.

Don’t Let Your Investment Go to Waste

Many of my logo customers have come to me after they’ve already invested in a logo, and they don’t like what they have. Some common complaints:

  • It looks dated.
  • It’s boring.
  • It looks like everybody else’s.
  • It’s not what we’re about as a company.
  • People don’t get it (from far away it kinda looks like a Tribble with a smiley face).
  • It gets lost (weak visual design).
  • We’ve grown, and we just want something better for our new signs and graphics.

Rarely do they want a minor tweak to the design; they want us to blast and start over!

Your hard work, career experience, research and the result — your great idea — can be wasted if it ends up looking like everyone else. Why just blend in? Why get confused with someone else’s brand? We need to get your original idea SEEN, and connect with your audience on an emotional level. Clip-art solutions will not do. You are one-of-a-kind.

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