Last week I wrote a post about how to choose a name for your blog. This week I want to share some insights about how to pick a logo and write a killer slogan.
Let’s start with what might seem basic to you. In fact, most branding is about simplifying and focusing your message and efforts, so the best branding advice should seem simple and basic to you. The two biggest challenges when it comes to branding are a)letting your ego get in the way and b) over-complicating things.
So, first, lets quickly examine what branding is, and what the functional purpose of a logo and slogan are.
Branding is about one thing – How people perceive you, your company, your blog, or whatever else you are marketing. Human perception is pretty simplistic. Once it associates a brand name with a category it is virtually impossible to change that perception. Think of it like stepping in wet cement. That impression will last forever. What this means is that once a name is associated with a category (i.e. Google with Search, Kleenex with tissues) you won’t be able to change that perception. Have you ever tried to change someones mind about politics or religion? It’s basically impossible to change someones mind once it’s made up. Besides, once I make a decision, I don’t need you creating more work for me to re-evaluate my beliefs and start over. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
You have three options in this case.
1. you can claim that you are different. i.e. Coke might be original and classic, but Pepsi is New Generation. This is called positioning yourself opposite the market leader. By showing how you are different, not how your are the same or better, you play into the existing perception. A better example is Avis taking on Hertz not by claiming they were better, but claiming that “we are number 2, so we try harder.” By playing into the existing perception and showing how that is the very reason you should do business with them, you are able to take market share away from the leader.
2. You can create a new category. When you are the first in a new category, you by default will win if the category takes off. So, if you differentiate yourself well enough you can emerge as a completely different category. In general, brands follow an evolutionary process, and new categories emerge from old categories, but more and more focused. So, craigslist started out as a classifieds website for everything including a small section for sharing apartments and renting out rooms. AirBNB is basically a massive multi-billion dollar company built off the back of that sub section of craigslist. They focused a broad category into a small niche and created a brand new category wide open for a branding play.
The way people perceive broad and generic sites is they can’t be good at everything, but when you are focused on a small niche, you must be the expert, cuz that’s all you do.
Now that we have a pretty good idea about the purpose of a brand, let’s talk about the purpose of a logo.
A logo is a visual associated with your name that people will use to reference and recall your brand. Our minds are visual first, so your logo is meant to visually create a cue to associate and remember your brand. This means that the perfect logo should be focused on that very concept. Making it as easy as possible to see, read, and remember. The best way to do that is to make it proportionate to the eyes. So, if you were to take your logo, and overlay an image of someone’s eyes, the logo should fit that shape perfectly. This way, a person can process the logo without even blinking. The approximate proportions should be 1 x2.25, think about the average size of a billboard, or a perfect example is Avis’s logo. IF you are wondering if you have a winner, close your eyes, and open them. Did you process the image immediately or did it take a second. if you had to adjust your eyes, it doesn’t fit the eyes. If not, you have a winner.
All the fancy aesthetics of a logo are fine and dandy, but all that really matters is that its easy to see, process and recall.
Now, for the fun part – writing a killer slogan.
What’s the purpose of a slogan? It is not meant to be clever or witty, it’s meant to serve a very specific function. The purpose of a logo is to support passalong or word of mouth advertising. It should answer the question, “Why should I do business with your brand?” So, if your customer is talking to his friends about your brand, and they ask, why should we use them, his response should be your slogan.
This means that you need a memorable slogan that says something meaningful about your brand. Probably the best slogan of all time is M&M’s “melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” Why should I eat M&M’s, because it melts in my mouth, not in my hands. Brilliant!
The M&M slogan also utilizes one of the four mental glues that make slogans memorable. Alliteration. The M in Melts, and M in Mouth make the statement alliterative and easy to recall. it was also likely deliberate that they made it similar to their name M&M’s
There are four mental glues that make something memorable.
1. Rhyme and Alliteration – Coca-Cola is alliterative. “If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit” using a rhyme. Both are extremely memorable. Another great alliterative slogan is “Melts in Your Mouth, not in your Hand. Here are some more alliterative brand names: Coca-Cola, Bed Bath & Beyond, Grey Goose, Magic Markers, Chris Craft, California Closets, Dirt Devil.
2. Reversals – Sometimes polar opposites are the most memorable. Fresh Direct’s slogan: “Our food is fresh. Our customers are spoiled.”
There is an incredible book written by W. Clement Stone that is literally a marketing goldmine, called The success system that never fails and each chapter has a summary that is called, “Little Hinges That Swing Big Doors.” Very Memorable. Or… just look at Shakespeare’s line, “To be or not to be: that is the question” One of the most memorable lines, written by perhaps the most famous playwright ever.
3. Repetition – The most famous repetitious line is, “When It Absolutely, Positively, Has to get there overnight.” Who can forget that incredible line from Fedex. Or… Newcastle Brown Ale is “The one and only,” not just “The one.”
4. Double Entendre – perhaps the most famous usage of a double entendre is the brand name Staples. As Al Ries writes, “When a word like “Staples” has two different meanings, it activates two separate places in your mind. First you think of one meaning (a U-shaped piece of metal) and then another (everything a business needs). The vibration between the two meanings helps lock the word into your memory.”
Now you have all the tools to own the word of mouth market and build a killer brand.