What is a Logo?
A logo is your graphic identity online as well as in the real world. Well before the internet, and well before marketing, logos were a major part of human life. All throughout history, we have logos representing everything from traders to armies. The famous Golden Eagle of the Roman Legion was the ultimate logo of its time.
Logos help us identify a person, group, or concept. The more famous or popular the logo, the more recognized it becomes, and the greater the brand. Coca-Cola is a great example of a company that has a famous logo as well as its brand.
There is one major difference between a logo and a brand. A logo is a representation of a brand; a brand is a recognized leader or group of products in a market. Branding is not just a logo; it is a complete set of activities that enable a logo to become popular. There are millions of logos all around us, but only a few brands for each one. Caterpillar is a construction equipment brand, with a standard brand color, and CAT logo. The same goes for Bosch, Samsung, Makita, etc. These are all brands that have a logo to make them immediately and easily identifiable.
Colors and History
Creating your logo requires skill. It is not just about image; it is about color, it is about matching the logo to your corporate culture and vision. Colors have a great impact on how people translate the image, so too does the actual logo itself. For instance, the Swastika is, ironically, the Hindu sign for Peace; the Nazi party corrupted a thousand years of “peace” into a sign of evil and death. By using black white and red, three definitive colors when mixed together remind us of the harsh Nazi regime. The use of red white and black has become restricted since the second world war due to the psychological connotations. Other examples are: the Star of David, the Cross, the Crescent and all logos of religions.
When thinking about creating a logo, remember that colors emit different feelings for people. For example, red is typically associated with love, yellow is associated with happiness, etc. Also, depending on your customers, you should also look at what colors mean in different cultures.
Successful Colors and Trends
Colors tend to trend with fashion, so one decade might see the onset of vibrant colors and other decades will associate themselves with pastels or variations of grey tones. Companies must also factor in their target audience as well as their image. Are you selling to local buyers only or are you planning on being global? Do you know what white means in Asia? What does the color green relate to in the country you are trying to market to? All these questions arise when designing a logo and how you intend to brand it.
Branding is a major science and art form. It can be instantaneous, and it can take decades. Coca-Cola took decades to become a global brand, while iPhone took only six years to become a global legend. When Steve Jobs presented the first iPod in 2001 and then in 2007 came out with the first iPhone, Apple had become a household name. Within 6 years Jobs had created a new world. The small i and large letter following it were the logo for all Apple products from that day one, iPod, iPhone, iPad, iOS, etc. The colors were white and black. Two tones, simple, and supplemented the vision that Jobs created.
Branding is not just about logos; it is about creating a whole line of products that can support the logo as well as a whole set of campaigns that push the products into the public awareness. Branding includes five steps that are all quantifiable and have milestones and KPI’s (Key Performance Indicator).
Stage I: Development
A product is considered in the developmental stage when it has not yet been introduced to the market. The product has to be developed and tested before it is released. This is the developmental stage in the cycle of a brand. One of the main factors that must be included in the product costs are marketing costs. When combining the two, you receive the initial product cost before adding additional overheads and profit which will determine the price to the consumer.
Stage II: Introduction
The product brand begins its life cycle when introduced to the public. Advertising and online marketing can commence before a product is ready for the market. We have seen this done by iPhone and competitors that introduced the next model a few months ahead of the actual release date. A successful brand will hit the market with little or no competition. Sometimes a product is the same with different packaging, this is found in the hygiene and cosmetics industry. The introduction stage is usually prepared for a massive immediate release sale that will refund most of the developmental stage and set the stage for brand growth, this is seen with new Film opening days, where the opening days pay for the whole film, sometimes generating enough of a profit that leads the product into a growth cycle that includes by-products.
Stage III: Growth
A product brand will enter the growth stage once it starts to sell exponentially. SAP is an IT company that provides ERP solutions. Through smart partnerships, it created global growth and introduced new updates and products on a yearly basis. This fuels its continuous growth, since customers will prefer to upgrade their systems than replace them with something new. Successful growth generates more competition; for instance, with smartphones. Once iPhone hit the market, Samsung followed closely, and this opened the door to a massive influx of competing technologies. Usually, saturation leads to price wars, and in some instances, companies will maintain their prices by keeping their products unique and basing their pricing on returning satisfied clients. This explains why iPhone maintains a market leader with high-cost phones when compared to cheaper Android versions.
Stage IV: Maturity
Maturity means a particular model in a brand will become “old,” and a newer version with better features must replace it. This happens a lot in the electronic-based technologies niche, as well as in the entertainment industry. Films, books and songs mature very quickly, sometimes within weeks. Smartphones mature within half a year, vehicles mature on a yearly basis where models will remain, but new features will populate the newer models being released. Prices tend to stay the same for every new release and depreciate for older models. Following the competition and following trends is important in maintaining an edge in every competitive market.
Stage V: Decline
This is the point where the company stops manufacturing the old brand and concentrates on the new one. Prices drop dramatically and only spare parts are produced for service agreements. The decline can be alleviated by finding other market niches for the same product. For instance, rather than competing against a local supplier for a market share of an older product, you might introduce a new one into the local market and sell the old one in a less volatile market such as third world countries. Once a brand has declined completely, it is then time to remove it and concentrate on the new. Nokia is a prime example of a company that didn’t prepare a new technology to replace the old, and it killed itself when it refused to measure up to smartphones.
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