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Hitting the mark with your "mark".

When the University of California rebranded their identity a couple years ago with an updated logo, students and alumni took to Facebook to protest. The uproar over the new modern and simplistic mark (which was previously an intricate crest designed in 1860) forced the university to alter their logo again to find a happy medium--a design that was more "collegiate."

Arby's corrected a similar error when fans of the popular fast food chain spoke out against a failed attempt to modernize their brand. The short-lived logo was a 3D version of the famous red Arby's cowboy hat. The new look instantly made the brand appear "cheap" or too "hip."

More recently, Airbnb, the hugely successful accommodations booking website, revealed a logo that is nearly identical to another established brand's logo. Remarkably, the established company was forced to redesign their logo in response (major oops!). Making matters worse, its shape was instantly deemed suggestive and inappropriate and has become the brunt of many jokes.

What do these graphical goofs all have in common? These companies each missed the mark, so to speak, with their corporate "marks." An article produced by MIT's business school, MIT Sloan School of Management, reveals three key goals that your logo should accomplish. A good logo provides identity, positive associations and differentiation. The University of California diverted from their roots too harshly, thus abandoning their core identity. Arby's and Airbnb associated their brand with negative ideas and, in Airbnb's case, failed to differentiate their logo from another company's logo entirely.

What do these important lessons mean for your store, your business and your brand? Though these companies hired swanky design firms and utilized focus groups, they still made very basic mistakes. What are some fundamental ways you can avoid similar heartache when it comes to marketing your brand or rebranding altogether?

Ask yourself the following questions:

What message does my logo send? Although focus groups failed the above companies, the practice of polling is still very helpful. Every aspect of your logo, from the font choice to the colors, evokes emotions. Ask friends, family, customers and fellow business owners their honest impression of your logo--specifically what message it conveys. You might be surprised at their response.

Is my logo simple and memorable? Logo designs are shying away from the intricate and becoming decidedly more minimalistic. A simple mark is often more powerful and more memorable--think Apple's or Nike's logos. In addition, a simple mark is more easily translated to different mediums (imagine your logo shrunk down on a business card, blown up on a billboard or appearing in a solid color).

An excellent industry example is Lipsey's redesigned logo. The major distributor successfully simplified their logo from a more intricate seal to a badge featuring a bold "L" --a much more memorable mark. The logo also translates very well to many mediums --the icon can also stand alone in its own right.

Is my logo timeless? Is your logo so "current" that it will be obsolete in five years? Will the mark send the same message as it does today in 20 years? Kinsey's Archery tackled this challenge well with their rebranding. Their updated logo, while more modern, combines a timeless font choice with the timeless image of a feather--a link to the company's archery heritage. The logo works in any generation.

Is my logo creative? Sometimes the best logos are abstract ideas. For example, the Apple logo isn't a computer, the Nike logo isn't a shoe and the Mercedes logo isn't a car. A representative image is often more powerful than the obvious. Your logo doesn't necessarily need to contain a gun, a bow, a scope or a deer. Your audience will connect abstract or unexpected images with your brand as long as they reflect who you are and your overall message.

Examine your logo. Does it immediately convey who you are and what you sell? Does it need a total makeover or just a modest update? Perhaps you're designing your first logo. Grab a piece of paper and start doodling. Google something like "best logos of 2014," or find a local design firm to work with (your brother's coworker's friend who's a graphic designer might not be your best option!)--it's the first step in developing your mark.
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Comment:Hitting the mark with your "mark".(OUTDOOR MARKETPLACE)
Author:Smithfield, Taylor
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Feb 1, 2015
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