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9 Generic Logotypes You Should Avoid When Designing A Logo

by: Neil Potter on

One of the most crucial aspects of designing a logo is making elements reflect what the company really is.

But there are times when we as designers get influenced with current design trends. It may be caused by false inspiration, unintentional plagiarism, or just a plain result of the changing design times.

Graphic designer Giovanni Todini curated a list of logo cliches most run-of-the-mill designers use.  Logos using Trajan font cut by an arc or the use of graph icons for finance-type firms are all too familiar to us by now that we would probably mistake one for the other.

Building up on this, redditor /u/still_thinking_, moderator of the subreddit /r/logodesign, compiled logo clones reflecting popular design choices by designers.

1. Warm, multitone triangles family

2. Three lines on blue circles family

3. Flipped letter “C” family

 

4. Red circles logo family

5. Southeast open teardrop family

  

6. Orange doughnuts with triangle holes family


7. Hands and leaves family


8. Black letters with a touch of red family

 

9. Incorporated number “1″ logo family

 

 

Mobile network giffgaff launches new “digital noise” identity

by: Steve Lowe on


Echo Brand Design has rebranded mobile network giffgaff, with the aim of creating an identity that is community-based rather than corporate, says the consultancy’s creative director Maren Steffens.

The new design is multi-coloured, and has “digitilised” and “future-proofed” the previous pixel design that has been used by giffgaff since it launched in 2009, she says.

Steffens says of the new “digital noise” design: “We’ve created pixels that make the design look like it is constantly moving. Even in print form, it has that dimension to it.”

She adds: “Its behaviour as an identity is quite unique – it constantly changes, unlike the corporate world of having one colour.

“Giffgaff is a brand on the pulse of changing and evolving and the community stands at the forefront of it, so the design has a range of personalities. It was very much created with the members in mind.”

Charlie Smith, giffgaff brand manager, says: “Our network is run by our members, so it’s important that we give them a brand that supports their efforts – the digital noise identity is designed to resonate with our target audience and be remembered.”

The lettering of the logo was generally retained, but the consultancy “refined and reinvented its role and expression,” says Steffens.

The brand refresh includes digital and print collateral. This accompanies a new “one-size-fits-all” triple SIM design, which was inspired by a member idea and which intends to help reduce waste, and video content such as the new design for E4’s giffgaff-sponsored idents.

Echo Brand Design was invited to undertake the project after previously completing work for the mobile network. The brand refresh took six months to complete.

GiffGaff_Branding_WelcomeSIM-ARTWORK

Promotion & advertising strategy

by: Steve Lowe on

Promotion is one of the key elements of the marketing mix, and deals with any one or two-way communication that takes place with the consumer. This article concentrates is a high level introduction to developing a promotional strategy for your business focusing on advertising and other 'pull' tactics.

Developing a promotional strategy

Deciding on a marketing communications strategy is one of the primary roles of the marketing manager and this process involves some key decisions about who the customer is, how to contact them, and what the message should be. These questions can be answered using a three stage process, which is equally relevant for all elements of the marketing mix:

Segmentation
Dividing the marketing into distinct groups

Targeting
Deciding which of these groups to communicate with, and how to talk to them

Positioning
How the product or brand should be perceived by the target groups

Messaging
Delivering a specific message in order to influence the target groups

1. Segmentation

Dividing potential customers into discrete groups is vital if you want to increase the success rate of any communications message. If you don't know who you are talking to, it's unlikely you will get much of a response. Who are the potential customers? How many sub-groups should you divide them into? How do these groups differ? Hopefully, most of this information will be readily available from your market research.

Once you have an idea of the customer, you should further drill down to explore them in more detail.
What are their media consumption habits? What are their expectations and aspirations? What are their priorities? How much disposable income do they have? What are their buying habits? Are they likely to have children? How many holidays do they take a year? How much money do they give to charity? How can you help them?

This information can be obtained in a variety of ways, from commissioning a specialist market research agency, to examining sales patterns or social media interactions.

Commonly used market research methods include:

  • Sales analysis and buying patterns
  • Questionnaires
  • Desk research
  • Website statistics, especially social media
  • Focus groups
  • Face-to-face interviews
  • Specialist market research companies

Once you have built up an accurate picture of your customer, it's time to get their attention…

2. Targeting

For the purposes of advertising, targeting is the process of communicating with the right segment(s) and ensuring the best possible response rate. The methods you use to target your audience must relate to your marketing plan objectives - are you trying to generate awareness of a new product, or attract business away from a competitor?

Methods of marketing communications

Advertising is just one element of the marketing communication arsenal, which can be divided into the following areas:

Advertising – a mass media approach to promotion

  • Outdoor
  • Business directories
  • Magazines / newspapers
  • TV / cinema
  • Radio
  • Newsagent windows

Sales promotion - price / money related communications

  • Coupons
  • Discounts
  • Competitions
  • Loyalty incentives

Public relations - using the press to your advantage

  • Press launches
  • PR events
  • Press releases

Personal selling – one to one communication with a potential buyer

  • Salesmen
  • Experiential marketing
  • Dealer or showroom sales activities
  • Exhibitions
  • Trade shows

Direct marketing - taking the message directly to the consumer

  • Mail order catalogues
  • Bulk mail
  • Personalised letters
  • Email
  • Telemarketing
  • Point of sale displays
  • Packaging design

Digital marketing – new channels are emerging constantly

  • Company websites
  • Social media applications such as Facebook or Twitter
  • Blogging
  • Mobile phone promotions using technology such as bluetooth
  • YouTube
  • E-commerce

Deciding which media channel to use

In nature, evolution occurs most rapidly when competition for resources is intense. The same process is now occurring with promotional media. All traditional media channels are now saturated, and competition for consumer attention is intense. At the same time, the impact of any one medium is becoming diluted. There are many more TV and radio channels, consumer have the ability to skip adverts and free information is now much more accessible. As a result, companies are becoming increasingly innovative in their approach to communications and a host of new media channels have emerged. As a result, media choice is becoming a tricky task, which is why detailed segmentation is so important - it's no use starting a Twitter campaign if none of your target market are regular users of the site.

Highly targeted communications often lead to better results. You can usually expect a response rate of under 1% for a relatively generic mass mailing. However, personal letters to a handful of your most loyal customers would lead to a dramatically increased rate of return. When deciding which media to use consider the reach, frequency, media impact and what you can expect for your budget but most of all, ensure your target customer will see the message in the first place.

Media choice is a matter of compromise between volume of people versus the personalisation of the message.

Ensuring your message reflects the stages of the purchasing funnel

Once you have made the audience aware of your brand, work doesn't stop there. The customer needs to be guided through the purchasing process. This means identifying the key stages in the customer journey and ensuring communications messages are personalised and relevant.

Integrated marketing communications

Once you have decided which media channel to concentrate on, the next step is to ensure an integrated approach is taken. Regardless of whether you are promoting a new product or raising awareness, it's important that all ads across all media work together towards a common goal by using similar messaging and 'look and feel'. An integrated approach can dramatically increase the effectiveness of any campaign and will help create your brand image.

Getting the best response

To get the best response from your target market, you need ensuring the message is relevant and clear – once you've managed to gain the valuable attention of your customer the last thing you want is for them to be confused about what you're saying. Determine the objectives of the advert and ensure these aims are addressed clearly. Think about the next steps you would like the audience to take, whether this is visiting a website, ringing a number, or being able to recall your brand when they are next in the shops.

3. Positioning

Positioning is the process of developing an image for your company or product. This can be achieved partially through branding, but it's important to realise that all elements of the marketing mix combine to provide the full picture. You must ensure that all areas of your business live up to expectations in order to successfully position yourself in the way you hope. Positioning also considers the competition, and you need to explain why you are unique in the marketplace and better than the other products on the shelf.

Branding and messaging

Branding is a powerful tool for positioning your product. Branding is used on almost all customer facing elements of a product, from the packaging design to the style of writing used on posters. Every communication a customer received adds up to form a mental picture of your brand and can influence the price they are willing to pay for your products. This ability to charge more due to the positioning of your product is known as 'brand equity'. Your branding also needs to consider your unique selling points (USPs) and ensure these are easily recognised through your messaging – is your product the best value, longest lasting, sweetest smelling or fastest?

Corporate identity

A corporate identity is a useful tool to ensure that your branding is used in a consistent way throughout the company. This detailed document runs through almost every conceivable customer touch point and provides guidance on the presentation and style which should be used. This could include use of logos, colours, tag lines, uniform and the type of coffee to serve guests. A CI guide is particularly useful if any creative work it outsourced to agencies or freelancers or if you have many offices worldwide. The most powerful brands can be identified by many elements of their communications material, not just a by their logo or slogan and this is due to successful implementation of a recognisable corporate identity. Recognition is a key part of any purchase decision so a corporate identity should for a core element of your advertising strategy.

4. Development of the advertising message

Once you have determined the positioning for your brand, it's time to develop the message in order to influence your target groups. Advertising objectives should be directly linked to your marketing plan, and tend to fit into the following generic categories:

  • Inform - raising awareness of your brand & products, establishing a competitive advantage
  • Persuade - generating an instant response (usually driving sales)
  • Remind - to maintain interest and enthusiasm for a product or service

It's a documented fact that creative, well branded, distinctive advertising generates the best results so ensure you use the best possible creative team you can get your hands on, and give them a detailed brief. Remember that a message will only be successful if it appeals to the target audience, so constantly refer back to the customer and tailor the ads to them.

Final words

Almost every business in the world will deal in advertising at some point, whether it is a listing in the Yellow Pages, or a billboard in Times Square. Whatever you're planning, the strategic thinking behind all advertising is essentially the same – get to know your audience, target them efficiently and position your brand in the way that will benefit your business.

10 rules to promote your website with Google

by: Steve Lowe on

The most sustainable method of gaining relevant sustainable traffic to your website is via Google. Their ex-NASA engineers, massive computing power and 'do no evil' philosophy has made them the most powerful force on the internet today. To get the best results, most of the time you spend promoting your website should be used to improve your exposure on this monolithic search engine.

The good news is that you can do much of the so called 'Google optimisation' yourself, but first you need to understand a bit about how Google works. Remember - the job of any search engine is to deliver relevant websites according to the search words you have entered, but how does this work?

Google is constantly exploring the internet, following every link, looking at every image, and downloading every piece of information it can understand. It's a huge job and takes time, but is essential to build an accurate index from which users can search for relevant information.

Rule 1: Present your site in a way that Google can understand

Currently, although Google is damn clever, it cannot currently understand text which is embedded in graphical form. Importantly this means flash based sites are very difficult to index and search and index accurately. To ensure the best chance of a place in the index, text needs to be formatted as text. If you do insist on a graphics based site, ensure that there is a text based alternative to aid accessibility.

Rule 2: Make sure Google knows you’re there

If there are no links to your site out there, Google can't find you without help. Use Google Webmaster Tools to register your site, submit your link (optional) and upload an accurate site map to give it a helping hand.

Once Google knows you're there and understands your content it will add you to the index. This is a great start but soon you'll realise that there are a million other people trying to attract the attention of the same people as you. Now you need to work on increasing your organic (non-paid) ranking. Google's aim is to dish out the most relevant sites and it determines relevance using a long list of complex equations and algorithms, some of which are well known but most are top secret. Generally it compares the 'key words' entered into the search box to the content of your site in order to determine relevance.

Rule 3: Be targeted and relevant

If you are hoping to attract visitors looking for 'medicinal plants', it makes sense to ensure these words are included in the text on your pages, used as page titles, and found in your site's url and meta data (if you don’t know what this is, try a Google search!). If you have created relevant pages, you will find this process happens naturally so don't worry too much about getting the balance right.

Naturally some less honest people see an opportunity here, just stuff the site with selected key words and you'll automatically rank number one for these phrases right? Wrong. This kind of strategy did work a long time ago, but now artificially manipulating the content of your site to appeal to certain key phrases can lead to a Google penalty and should be avoided. Just ask yourself the question what would a person looking for 'medicinal plants' want to see? If your page fits the bill you've done a good job.

Rule 4: Do not try and cheat

There is almost no way to artificially increase your rank – people have been trying to manipulate the system since the dawn of the internet. Google knows every trick in the book and will penalise cheaters. Honesty really is the best policy.

If you are trying to break into a competitive market you can find there are dozens of sites which rank for every conceivable combination of key words. If this is the case, you need to try and find a unique niche and build up your reputation gradually.

Rule 5: Find your niche

Google provides a very useful tool for its AdWords program which suggests key word combinations and gives an idea of the competition for those words. This program is designed to help people chose which key words to bid on for advertising purposes but can also help you find a niche.

Google keyword explorer

Have a play, and use the results to build up a presence in a realistic niche. It's very unlikely you'll be able to design a high ranking Britney Spears site using this technique as there are hundreds, if not thousands out there already.

Another way Google determines relevance is by using other people's recommendations. If an established site on a similar topic provides a link to your site, Google treats this like a vote of confidence. It's very unlikely decent sites would link out to rubbish ones so it's usually a good indication of quality. The more decent quality links you manage to get, the better.

Rule 6: Build good quality, relevant links with other websites

There are many ways of doing this – via article submissions, using social media, commenting on blogs, spreading the word on forums, but the best method is usually via link exchanges with reputable sites. This can take time and involves writing to many people to beg for links, but if your site is useful to their visitors they'll probably accept. Bear in mind that the top ranking sites get requests for link exchanges the whole time so you'll need to provide a really convincing case if yours is to be accepted. It can be an idea to start with less established sites first to try and build up your reputation.

Rule 7: Avoid automated link building programs

You may have seen services on the internet providing automated link building programs in the hope of increasing your Google rank dramatically in a short period of time. Beware of these – often you will get a large volume of links and see a resulting increase in rank, but it's unlikely these links will be placed on high quality sites and this again can lead to a penalty. Google hates these 'link farms' and once they are discovered the listed sites are often removed from their rankings.

Rule 8: Adhere to website standards

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) are a group which governs website standards and is the benchmark for html code in sites all over the world. Ensure your site adheres to their standards and check using the validator to make sure your site is easily accessed by the major browsers (link below).

http://validator.w3.org/

Rule 9:Update your site regularly

Google knows how often your site is updated and can give priority to regularly updated sites. As your site grows older, it will more easily gain reputation and momentum with Google. Make sure you add or change something at least every month to ensure maximum return.

Rule 10: Be patient

Building an online presence takes time and hard work. If your changes aren't reflected in Google rapidly, remember that they have over a billion websites on their database and it takes time for updates to filter through. Launching a new site can be a tough job, but stick to the rules above and you'll get there in the end. Good luck!