Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ten Things To Avoid When Designing A Logo

I don't think anyone will argue how important a logo is to your company. It's the face of your business--a reflection of who you are & what you stand for. It's the first impression that people will have of you & hopefully the lasting impression, the one that stays with them.

We all know the advantages of a good logo. But what about the bad logo design? There are so many out there. A bad logo can literally turn people away from your business; sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. No matter how good your service or product is, a bad logo can keep prospective customers away.

Since no one is business for that to happen, here are 10 things to avoid when designing a new logo or redesigning an existing one:

1.  FONTS: Ask any designer, & they can name a selection of fonts that should never ever be used in logo design. Perhaps the greatest offender is Comic Sans, the condemned face that has had websites created calling for it's removal from software programs & eradication from the library of fonts. I feel those are extreme measures, but because of it's reputation, stay away from that font. Other fonts to avoid are Mistral, Viraldi & Curlz because they are either to hard to read or too cutesy to be taken seriously. Further, you should make sure that the font you select matches the corporate image you are trying to convey.
2.  STOCK ART: If you can't afford to hire a graphic designer, using clip art in your logo may be your only option when designing your first logo. That said, you should avoid it whenever possible. Logos comprised of clip art look amateurish, & you run the risk of reusing art that another company has already used. Your logo should be original for two reasons: you'll be remembered & it shows you're different for your competition. You also don't want to be linked to someone's negative feeling towards a business that has nothing to do with yours simply because you both have the same logo. 

3.  PHOTOSHOP FILTERS & EFFECTS: Outer glow, inner glow, gradients, bevels are effects that can overkill a logo. Used sparingly, a gradient or drop shadow can really make your logo pop. Too many effects can be distracting, though. What's more, they can make your logo difficult to read or understand. One filter or effect, used wisely, can create an interesting logo. Avoid using too many--it will have the reverse effect.

4.  UNRELATED IMAGERY: Make sure the imagery in your logo is somehow related to your company or at least the industry your company is in. Including images, though pleasing, but unrelated to your business may confuse prospects & new customers.

5.  INAPPROPRIATE IMAGERY: When you are reviewing the design of your new logo, put your head in the gutter for a second. Is there anything remotely inappropriate about your logo? Are there any elements that could be construed as a phallic symbol or otherwise offensive? Is the lettering in your logo spaced so that it says something other than your company name at a glance? Not everyone looks at images like these shown & see phallic symbols, sexual innuendos  or four-letter words. But many do so take a good look at your graphics to ensure they don't resemble anything offensive or inappropriate.

6.  FUZZY GRAPHICS: While full-color photographic images can be aesthetically pleasing, they wreak havoc on graphic designers. Try to limit the photographic to it's simplest form. Not only will it cut down on headaches for your logo designer, it will also make things much easier whenever you decide to use your logo on promotional imprinted products. The bigger mistake, in this case, is using raster rather than vector images. Raster images are made up of tiny pixels, & get extremely fuzzy when blown up. Vector images, on the other hand, are scalable, so they look good at any size. Programs that don't deal with vector images--like Photoshop--shouldn't be used to create logos.

7.  COLOR FOR EFFECT: Would your logo lose any effect if it were one color rather than several? Try to design a logo, so that if multi colors are used, it will still look good in only one color. This is an especially important point when it comes to customized promotional items since a one color imprint is used most often. One of the best tests for logo design is to put it in black & white. If its's still crisp & readable, even on a small scale, it's a good logo. If not, try again.

8. THE CORPORATE SWOOSH: Even though Nike popularized the swoosh & made it theirs, today too many companies rely on this design for their logo. The swoosh generally does little to differentiate one company from another one. The corporate swoosh is safe, yet completely disconnected from brand identity. After over a century of ineffective, constantly changing logos, Pepsi has finally resorted to the swoosh......the bland, meaningless decorative flourish that says "I give up". You're not Pepsi so you shouldn't take the risk sending out that message.

9.  TOO COMPLEX: For every corporate swoosh, there's a logo that goes too far in the other direction......it has too much going on. Many national companies & sports related logos fall into this catagory.  Think about the fast food logos.  They are nationally recognized & most of them have a very simple design. If these logos had complicated images, they may get overlooked. Try to keep your logo as simple as possible, & what design element you do employ will stand out as a bold statement, even if viewed hundreds of yards away.

10.  TOO ABSTRACT:  Make sure your logo isn't so convoluted that the public doesn't recognize what it's supposed to be. People should not have to squint or have to figure out your logo. One of the best examples of this is a logo you'll be seeing regularly for the next two weeks......the one for the 2012 London Olympics. This is abstraction taken to the extreme.  Did you know those blocky shapes are to read 2012? Luckily the Olympics doesn't need publicity, but if this logo were for a company, they'd be in trouble.

There are many things to avoid when designing a logo for your company--ranging from inappropriate fonts to generic images. If you are designing a logo for the first time or redesigning the one you already have, think about the logos that stick in your mind. What makes them so effective?

Remember your logo will be seen on a multitude of media ranging from your website & printed brochures to promotional custom products. Don't envision it in only one place.

Good luck!
Ronni Sherman

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Eco-Friendly Bags Have Become The #1 Promotional Wholesale Product

Most customers & potential clients judge a company based on a combination of things, including the promotional custom products they receive. With a growing awareness over the environment & the health of our planet, people are looking for companies that do their part in cutting down on emissions & using more environmentally friendly products.

There are some promotional products that are perfect advertising tools for businesses, both large & small, that are eco-friendly. Imprinted, non-woven bags are one of these. It doesn't matter what field you're in or who your target audience is......these will appeal to just about everybody.

Thousands to millions of dollars can be spent on advertising campaigns for billboards, television & radio ads; but the fact is that a custom tote bag, starting at a low, low cost has the possibility to reach more people with your message than any other outlet.

The Advertising Specialty Institute conducted a survey & reported that people who received promotional items kept them for an average of 7 - 9 months. This provides repeated & consistent exposure for your company. Have you given a bag to your customer lately? Chances are he'll use it more than 10 times a month & it will be seen monthly by 1038 people. That's just one bag........now multiply that by the number of bags you ordered & then gave out in that one month.

I feel these facts about customized promotional bags are so very important. Every business owner should be aware of them so they can understand just how effective they are as promotional imprinted products. Take the promotion of your company one step further & invest in the planet's future by using customized totes.

So let's talk about these bags. They are the largest, most purchased item in the ad specialties industry. In recent years, with consumers focusing on being more environmentally-friendly, their usage has skyrocketed.

Thanks to the excellent quality of printed bags made from eco-friendly material, they can be used countless times which is good for the planet & your business identity. The non-woven polypropylene totes are everywhere, used over & over. It's the one product you can never have enough of. They're recyclable, reusable, eco-friendly, water resistant & can be washed.

All positive, right?  Here's the biggest plus for you......these non-woven bags have a huge imprint area. You can blow up your logo so it really pops & can be recognized from a distance or you can add all the information you want about your business. These should be given out to everyone you come into contact with because wherever they go shopping, they're taking your company right along with them!

The newest non-woven bags are now laminated or metallic.  This gives them added pizzazz & gives them more strength & durability. Some display a multi-color pattern or design covering the entire bag. These will stand out & will highlight your business when your logo & company name is imprinted on them.  These designer totes really make an impression.

You can even get them insulated to carry fresh or frozen products home. Other bags allow you to carry more than just groceries......they have pockets & zippers. These customized promotional totes come in all sizes which make them adaptable to travel.  People head outdoors--to the beach, picnics, sporting events, museums, shopping--the list is endless. Carrying items to & from work is something most employees do, so why not have them do it in a bag with your logo.

What could be better than bags & totes as promotional imprint products for your customers.

Many cities in Los Angeles & Orange counties have passed a law that bans the use of plastic bags & there will a .10 charge for every paper bag used. More & more cities across the nation will be adopting this policy. Jump on the bandwagon now & start handing out the logical solution to plastic & paper bags.

Buying these non-woven, polypropylene bags & effectively displaying your company name on them is a promotional strategy that is priceless. Don't miss out on this great opportunity to promote your business to thousands of people with just a handful of bags.

Have fun with your name. Make it stand out--be creative.
Ronni Sherman

Monday, July 2, 2012

Proof That Customized Promotional Items Work

Advertising specialties are products that are imprinted with a company's name, advertising message & most likely a logo. These products spread recognition & identity for a business. Promotional custom products are one of the most effective mediums among advertising because they have the ability to expose a company's name over & over again.

Best of all they are an inexpensive, yet effective way to get your name out in the public while fostering goodwill to your clients & prospective customers. Here are some studies that were done showing just how dynamic these products can be:

1. Research by A. C. Nielsen Co found that almost 1/3 of recipients of promotional products were using them one year after receiving them. The study also showed that, six months after receiving them, 42% of the people with customized promotional items could recall the name of the advertiser when the item was not in view.

2. Another study, by Specialty Advertising Association International, revealed that nearly 2/3 of the business travelers at Chicago's O'Hare Airport had at least one promotional item in their possession & 3/4 of those traveling could recall the advertiser's name without looking at the article.

3. Non-woven recyclable bags are quickly becoming the number one promotional imprinted product & this next study is impressive. The Advertising Specialties Institute (ASI) conducted a survey & reported that people who received a promotional bag kept it for an average of 7 - 9 months & used it about 10 times a month. That one bag would have been seen by 1038 people.  That's just one bag........now multiply that by the number of bags you ordered & gave out that month. 

4. Baylor University conducted a study where a textbook publishing company gave 4,000 educators either a thank you letter or a thank you letter with a pocket calculator that had their logo imprinted on it. The results showed that the customers who received the calculator were more positive towards the publishing company & rated it 34% higher than those who received only the letter of thanks.

5. This next study is one of my favorites because it shows promotional items bring better results than coupons do. According to Southern Methodist University, customers of a dry cleaning store who received promotional custom products over an eight month period spent 27% more & frequented the establishment 49% more often that those who were given only coupons.  Remember the promotional item must be useful to the recipient to get this positive return.

6. This last example is not a study, but still shows the power of promotional imprinted products & how they can aid in your marketing program. Zaki Usman of Severa Corp used imprinted beach balls to lure their website visitors to their Twitter site & sign on as followers. They launched a FOLLOW US ON TWITTER & WIN A BEACH BALL campaign. By the ninth day after the program had started, their follower count went for 4700 to 9400. In that short time, they had more Twitter traffic than they had in the last two months. They also found that once they posted the offer on their website, people stayed on there longer than they did before the promotion. Zaki, himself, credits all this to the genuine interest people had in his beach ball campaign.
All I can say is what a wonderful & unique idea! Congratulations, Zaki, on your success!

Research proves that consumers who receive promotionals return sooner & reorder more frequently than those who receive no advertising specialties. These studies also show how important it is to keep your name in the public at all times & promotional custom products are the best way to do it.

Try it & see for yourself. I wish you the best of luck!
Ronni Sherman