Branding

picWhat’s the difference between a logo and a brand? Well I have been known for using social media references to explain the difference. You logo is your profile pic, while your brand is the whole page. Your logo is what the customer sees when they’re first introduced to you, your profile pic, or even your face. If you’re good looking or if the profile pic is attractive then the person may want to find out more about you. Or even if they’re not prepared to meet you or utilize your business right away; you want them to remember you. This is what a logo does for you. A logo is that pretty profile photo that will keep you in the mind of the customer. It must be original, memorable, and intentional to make them think of you later on when they need you. But a logo is not the conversation that you want to have with your customer to show them who you are, your values, your mission, your products. This is the brand identity. The brand identity is all of your other photos on social media, its the posts, the tone of voice used on the posts, its the filter used on the photos, the background colors, the fonts, the spacing of the words, your brand is so much larger and more important than just a logo. Take a look at the photo above, while I did not design their logo, I created a brand identity for the company by using the existing logo, a certain quality of stock photo, an integrated typeface throughout the assets. and the same color scheme throughout. This company only needed the print aspects of their company to be branded. In the photo, there is a retractable banner, 2 flyers, and product packaging. Many times a brand may require a logo, social media assets, website design, stationary, and more. The mission is for all assets to match and to create a unified feel for the entire brand identity.

 

The company in the photo below only hired me for their logo design and opted not to create a brand identity When designing the logo for a company, even if they’re not purchasing a brand identity, I still design it with the brand in mind. What I mean by that is, as you can see, we list the colors used as well as the typefaces, different variations of the logo, including a monotone version, a text only version, and an icon only version. The reason for this is so that in the future, should the customer wants to expand on the brand identity, the assets are already present.

 So whenever you’re ready to make your company more visible, you should now know whether you need a profile pic or an entire profile and I’ll be ready to create which ever you need.

Hey Jeff, Where do logos come from?

They come from the logo stork, of course, duh!

If you’re like many business owners you sometimes wonder, “why should I pay a designer to create my logo, I can do it myself”. Well, if you can’t answer the title question in detail and with confidence then you definitely shouldn’t try this yourself. In this post I’m gonna break down the process of creating a logo and forever dispell the myth of the logo stork. 

First we start with you, the customer. I need to know about you, about your company, your target audience, your competition, and your thoughts on their logos. We figure all of this out by requesting that you complete a questionnaire filled with questions about all of the above. Once this questionnaire is returned filled out, I study the answers and take detailed notes with my own comments. These notes are the foundation of the design process. 

Once we get this questionnaire completed and the notes on file, next we work on the strategy. How is the logo gonna be used, is it gonna be energetic or static, should it contain an icon or just text, if there’s an icon is it to be literal or abstract, background or not, outline or not. These are just a few of the questions I’ll ask myself before I even begin to work on your new identity. 

The next step in the process of creating the image that your customers will remember and associate with your business forever is to get out a pencil, an eraser, and paper and get to sketching. Even though you only need one logo, I’ll sketch about 25 ideas to begin the brainstorming process. Of these 25 sketches, most of them will suck but they will give me the start that I need to create the voice of your company. 

After we get these sketches completed and we know how we want the logo to feel, I start collecting data. That data includes typefaces/fonts, images, colors, and shapes. All of this data is inspiration, not actual assets of your design. 

Once the data is collected then I open my Adobe apps and start designing. I piece different parts of the different sketches together with the fonts, icons, and freestyle a little to make it work. The first designs will be created in black and white to assure that the design is simple enough to be used over many different mediums including those that require a monotone design. Once I get a few successful designs in monotone, then I’ll add the colors. Colors, like the fonts aren’t just added for aesthetic reasons but are instead purposefully selected for the mood of the design and the psychology of the colors. 

From here, the customer will receive 3 proofs of which you will choose the one that mostly identifies with the message you’re trying to convey with your logo and you will inform me of any revisions that need to be made. Once the revisions are completed then you’ll get your new logo in every format that you’ll ever need it for. 

Now knowing how extensive the process of creation is, you should now understand that there is no logo stork and you should also understand why it’s important to hire a professional to design the identity of your business. 

The Beautiful Logo

So you’ve hired a designer to create a logo for you new startup. Your designer emails you a the proof of your logo. You love it!!! It’s great!!!! You forward it around to your friends, partners, and coworkers and they all love it. “It’s beautiful”, your friends say. It has touched your emotions, and aesthetics are definitely a part of selecting your logo. But is it correct for your audience? Will it attract the crowd that you hope to attract? This is a much larger part of logo selection and creation. Your logo is the design that will represent you as a first and lasting impression to your current and future customers. If it doesn’t convey the message that you want to send, you must be brave enough to step out of the emotional side of it and tell your designer to try again. We as designers, have no emotional attachments to the design, so we won’t have a problem going back to the drawing board. Our job is not to touch your emotions but rather to create a new emotional experience for your audience that will bring them back to you. -A Designer Named Jeff

The Relentless Pursuit of……

“To assure quality- excellence must be an earned word assigned by others to us, not proclaimed by us to ourselves”- Ed Catmul, founder of Pixar
When trying to solicit clientele for our business endeavors we use words such as “excellence” to describe the service that we offer. A “flaw” of mine, and possibly the reason I have yet to find the success level that I seek as a freelancer or as a designer in general is that I am honest; probably too honest when it comes to describing myself and my abilities. I cannot call myself a master of any task if I still struggle to perform that task. I will not describe my service as excellence until I get the accolades of others who are professionals at my craft. I call this a flaw because those others are still not as good as I know I can and will be, yet they will use those words and garner up business and carry the perception of success. Yes, I know that marketing teaches us that we must tell the customer how to feel. If I could tell those lies, then I would have more financial success as well, I’m sure. But I just can’t do it. My focus is on quality, and I hate putting out sub standard work and convincing paying customers that it’s “excellence”. So when I read  the above quote in Ed Catmul’s book, “Creativity Inc”, it resonated with me. This man, who founded this billion dollar company feels the same way that I do. If you’re calling yourself excellent and you’re the only one saying it, then you’re probably not all that excellent. You must earn that word! 
Lexus also had a quote, which was their slogan/tag line for a while that always resonated with me, it was “the relentless pursuit of perfection”. I loved this line!!! It implied that no matter how good we get, we will never stop trying to be better, our pursuit of perfection (though we know perfection is unattainable) is relentless. WOW! They have since taken out the words “of perfection” and the slogan only reads “the relentless pursuit”. That has no where close to the same impact and I don’t understand their logic in the change. To me, those quotes go hand and hand in business. Excellence must be an earned word on our relentless pursuit of perfection. I will earn that title because my pursuit of perfection is definitely relentless. Peace! #iDesignStuff

You Are A Brand

 Whatever you’re known for is your brand, use it! If you’re known as the pretty one, the loud one, the one with the strange voice, or the one that has a crazy laugh, that is your brand. Find a way to incorporate it into your brand identity, it’s already how people know you.  

A brand is not a logo, a letter type, or a color; it’s all of those things put together plus a feel, how and what you post on social media, and more. Your brand is anything that makes your audience remember you after you have left them and they can recognize it even without any words telling them it belongs to you. Think about Apple products and marketing and think of how easily you can recognize an Apple ad even without the icon or the name anywhere on the ad. 

I downloaded Steve Harvey’s audiobook “Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success” and it wasn’t his voice reading it. That kinda disappointed me, I thought to myself, this book would be so much more effective if it were read by Steve in his country grammar. His voice is his brand but for some reason he chose not to use it, taking away a little of the potency of the book. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a great book and I took a lot from it, including inspiration for this post, but from years of hearing Steve’s voice, whether he was telling jokes, giving advice, reading the wrong winner of a pageant, or even discussing his ill advised meeting with Donald Tump, the points of the book would have hit home so much more if he had chosen to read it himself as Oprah does with her audiobooks. Steve’s voice is his brand, as much as his face, his suits, or his name.

As an Art Director I am trained to use any and all things recognizable as part of the brand building of a person, place, business, or whoever commissions my services. Audio, visible, or textured, use that thing that you’re recognized for as part of your brand.

My Target Audience is Everyone

Your target audience is not “everyone”. While we would all love to sell to everyone and get money from all demographics, the smart business person knows that different people like different things and it is rarely possible that everyone is gonna like what you’re selling. At age 41 I don’t like (or even understand)  the same things my kids do, nor do I like the same things my dad does, we’re different demographics. As a Black man I don’t like many of the things that my white or Asian friends like. As a man, I don’t even understand most of the stuff that my lady likes. And this is all fine. We like what we like, we’re attracted to different things. This is what makes the world beautiful. This is why you see different commercials on tv for different shows and different ads in different magazines and other media. This is why FaceBook seems to know who you are and the ads seem to be geared towards you. Intelligent business people know this and will not advertise to anyone who is not in their target audience.  Before you come to a designer and ask for a logo, brand, or any design, you must know who your target audience is. This is one of the most important questions on the design questionnaire. We must know who to create the artwork for, who to pick the font for, who’s color trends will we adhere to. Take the time to think about it and then decide, who do you want at the party? Who’s more likely to buy that product? Who’s going to be reading that annual report? As designers we are taught to ask these questions and we’re also taught what to do with the answers. We will cater the design to meet the desires of your particular audience. This is why you pay us. Anyone can open up PhotoShop and paste some images and words together but can they tell you WHY. Why they used those images. Why they chose those colors. Why they decided on those fonts, and that style? If not, call a Graphics professional, it’s in our nature,it’s what we do. But first things first, you must know that your target audience is definitely not everyone. 

The RedTiger

I get asked a few times a week, “why a tiger? It has nothing to do with design. And why is it red?” It’s a mascot or an icon that best describes me, my personality, my passion, and a grand symbolic representation of my business model. Plus it’s just super dope, right? 

As a branding expert who’s asking you to trust me with creating and implementing your brand, you wouldn’t accept that I chose my logo simply because it was super dope though, would you? So let’s get into why a RedTiger. 

In China, the tiger is considered the king of all beasts (not the lion) and represents powerful energy.  The tiger moves with a confident stride, an art of regal beauty in motion, fully present in every movement. The tiger is also the supreme master of his domain, a preeminent symbol to be bold, and fierce in all you do. Majestic and awe-inspiring are also words that come to mind when you are in the presence of a tiger. These are the characteristics that represent my business, and I fell the tiger speaks what I want my audience to hear. 

Red is the color of extremes. It’s the color of passionate love, seduction, as well as adventure and energy and life force. Red is recognized as a stimulant and is inherently exciting. Red draws attention and a keen use of red as an accent can immediately focus attention on a particular element.

Now knowing all of that, why wouldn’t I chose a RedTiger? And why wouldn’t I take those two powerful aspects, capitalize both words, and then combine them to make one word symbolizing my business? 

This is the passion that I bring with me into every project whether it’s branding or just a logo, whether it’s art direction for an entire campaign or a symple flyer for one event. No matter the size or compensation of a job, I give every aspect meaning and then I attack it with the ferocity that can only come from a RedTiger. 

So even though I am doing business as Jeff Crosby or A Designer Named Jeff, I am represented by the RedTiger so I masterfully concluded that this should be the name of this blog. 

Welcome to my blog. Visit my site here to see my design portfolio.