“I’m stubborn and cheap…

and I don’t want to pay for it.”

These are the words one of my favorite new clients uttered when I brought up Logo design. He owns a great, and I mean SUPER, pizza shop that has been in business for over 50 years. He’s a smart guy, and he realizes that through Social Media and the internet he can draw a much bigger crowd than his standard customers. He knows his pizza is something special, and so does anyone who tastes it.

But in the 50+ years his place has been in business, the business has NEVER had a logo; that is 50 years of lost branding opportunity. Being there first means a lot. Branding over time, if they had done it properly, would mean that no Pizzeria Uno or any other psuedo italian chain could come in and steal his customer’s hearts.

By NOT branding this business has left that opportunity there – left their business wide open for a big brand with deep pockets to come in and blanket his turf with their schtick and drown him out. Part of the reason anyone with a unique idea or great product needs to start building their brand right away is that, while no one is noticing, they have the opportunity to really dig in and build a connection with customers everyone else is ignoring. Done properly you can create a relationship based on trust that no big chain can shake, but you need to start BEFORE the big guys notice your market, not after they come flooding it with money and ads because you’ll NEVER catch them once they get a foot hold.

Beware of the Acronym

I am not totally against the use of Acronymns, and I understand that in our fastpaced lives sometimes they’re really useful. For instance – no one is going to use the term Compact Disc when CD is the widely accepted shorthand. But something has happened in our business culture; some companies and industries have gone our of their way to create Acronyms where not only are they unnecessary, they confuse the listener. For example:

1. LOL: The internet has caused a rapid increase in the overuse of acronyms because, let’s face it, typing on a phone pad is a pain. Please, stop using this one – perhaps the most overused of all Acronyms.
2. PADI – Professional Association of Diving Instructors – no one will know your acronym if they don’t even know you exist.
3. NIMBY – Not In My Backyard – Seriously?
4. TIA – Thanks In Advance – If you can’t take the time to write out ‘Thank You in Advance’ you shouldn’t be asking for the favor.
5. ASAP – As Soon As Possible – Be careful using this one in business communications because it comes across as command rather than a request. No one that isn’t in the military likes to be given orders.
6. OOO – Out of Office. Huh?
7. EOD – End of Day. Do we really need this??
8. UPnP – Universal Plug & Play – they must not have worked too hard on this one.
9. S.H.A.G. – Senior Housing Assistance Group – do you see where careless use of acronyms could be a problem?
10. D.P. – Designer Portfolio: this one courtesy of my old company and is an abbreviation rather than an acronym; the entire design industry knows them as Architect Folders and sales reps. had to constantly explain what they were to customers.

I’m not for outlawing all acronyms; if they make communication easier and MOST PEOPLE understand them I say go for it. For instance SCUBA, HGTV and ATM are all widely understood acronyms that make life simpler.

In business, especially if it’s highly specialized, is where most people get into trouble. I constantly caution clients to stop using acronyms if I don’t understand them the first time I encounter them. A good rule of thumb is that if you have to train your clients and new employees as to what they stand for – ditch them. Just because the people in your company understand your acronyms doesn’t mean you should use them. It’s difficult enough explaining what you do in 30 seconds or less – jumbling that speech with acronyms the listener doesn’t understand puts you in danger of losing them permanently.

If you do encounter acronyms you are clueless about, try to clear it up. If your clients need to use this service to understand what you or your website are saying, my guess is they won’t bother.

Is Your Logo Naked?

Working with small businesses I would say 50% or more have no tag line at all, and 20% of those that do have useless ones that aren’t memorable. Why do you need a great one? Because you, me, and everyone we know is so busy we can’t see straight half the time, so when we’re looking for a product or service we usually don’t have a lot of time. Add to that the fact that we are INUNDATED with spam & junk mail and you have one frenzied prospect you’re trying to attract.

Some business names themselves are remarkable enough to identify WHAT service a company provides, but a tag line should can inform the viewer about what sets you apart and ensure that they remember your BRAND. Here’s a list of some of my personal favorites:

1. Nike – “Just do it.” Overused now, but absolutely awesome, inspiring, and meaningful.
2. FedEx – “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” Echoes your own sense of urgency when you need quick freight service.
3. BMW – “The Ultimate Driving Machine” Says a lot more than “just another luxury car.”
4. American Express – “Don’t Leave Home Without It.” A straight forward sense of security.
5. John Deere “Nothing runs like a Deere” Reliability in 5 words
7. Maxwell House – “Good to the last drop.” Simple, good stuff.
8. RG Petty Construction – “On budget, On Time, On Demand” – So you’ll expect a lot, but that’s a good thing.
9. Gibbons Beer – “If it’s Gibbons, it’s good.” <-- now defunct Pennsylvania beer but that tag line said it all. 10. Northeastern Maintenance "Got Snow, Need a Mow? Call Joe." My friend Joe Yantorn's maintenance business; I guarantee you know what he does and when you'd need him. There are loads of great tag lines out there, even more companies have naked logos. Your tag line should say in 6 words or less what you do or why the viewer should choose you. It shouldn’t be cute, overly clever or too technical. And if you are at a complete loss as to how to go about developing a tagline or creativity is not your strong suit hire a great marketing mind to develop one for you. Think of it as a landmark for your logo and brand, and as a landmark it will quickly distinguish you from your competition.

Logos Matter

My fixation on logos & branding continues. My 3.5 year old daughter is obsessed with her dad’s car – she cried today when the battery was dead. She recognizes the BMW logo everywhere we go and says “that’s like Daddy’s car.” She also recognizes: McDonald’s, Wendy’s, our pathetic local Weis supermarket (her reaction to this one isn’t as positive as to BMW), our Farmer’s Veggie Stand sign, the local zoo brand on all of its billboards…. and she’s 3.5 years old.

How much impact does your logo have?

Why does this matter to you? Because Logo Recognition is key to Branding, and branding is one of the keys to ensure a steady stream of prospects into your sales funnel. If a 3.5 year old associates the experiences she’s had in her short life, either positive or negative, so strongly with a logo imagine the impact that same logo can have on your existing & potential customers.

So how do you brand with your logo?

1. First of all, have a sharp, easily recognizable logo – simpler is usually the best – think Mercedes, “W” hotels or McDonald’s iconic “M.”

2. Use your logo consistently on every sign, promotional item, advertisement or company literature. I want to pull my hair out when I see companies change their logo on a whim depending upon the publication or format they’re advertising in. Your logo is not supposed to conform to the application – it should be like a visual landmark for your company. Would anyone suggest altering the font on the HOLLYWOOD sign??

3. Great customer service – branding can be a bad thing if your customer associates unpleasant experiences with your logo.

4. Consistent “advertising or marketing.;” it doesn’t matter if you advertise in the local paper or use Social Media and the internet as your keystone of getting the company message out – religiously use the medium AND your logo within your ads/posts/blogs etc.

5. Utilize promotional items with your logo on it as gifts/giveaways – from the mundane pens, mugs and key chains to Holiday cards & more unique items….keep your name out there and in your customer’s hands and minds.

Branding, like all good pieces of your marketing puzzle, doesn’t work without a comprehensive & consistent plan, and it sure as heck doesn’t happen by accident. Make sure it’s a part of the puzzle you are focused on & disciplined about – its impact cannot be overstated.

[Branding] Opportunity Lost

I went shopping at the local mall in my hometown of Scranton (Yes, there IS a Dunder Mifflin store) today, something I do perhaps once a year because in general I prefer main street shopping over the artificially created ‘mall village.’ My daughter and I entered from the below street level parking lot via an escalator that took us directly into one of the anchor department stores. I knew there were 2 anchors in the mall, but I didn’t know which one I entered, and it took me 5 minutes of walking around to find out. Only after I asked the salesperson what store I was in was I sure I was in The Bon Ton.

Are you missing the opportunities?

There wasn’t a single sign in the entire store that told you where you were; not one when you entered, none in the Elevator, none on the sale tags, and absolutely ZERO on the displays. Sure, there were sale signs and promotional displays for specific brands, but nothing in the store spoke a word of the store’s brand. Not only does that tell the customer that this store is not trying to create a unique experience, it tells the customer that they could be in any store, anywhere – this place isn’t special. How on earth does a company build brand loyalty this way??

Each department – cosmetics, children’s, shoes – is an opportunity for branding the store and the experience, and The Bon Ton took advantage of none of these. Think this is anecdotal? Well it’s not… I have visited thousands of smaller retail stores across the country and many of them have an insignificant sign on the outside and absolutely ZERO