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The PM&B News on Logos & Branding

GETTING IT RIGHT: A logo ‘must be memorable’, says Jack Potter of Potter Marketing.

          IS YOUR LOGO…    A NO-GO?

By JAN NORMAN, The “It’s Your Business” Column


Your logo should convey the right image to your customer in a single glance. Customers decide a lot about a company in a glance. Try it now. Take a glance at your sign. A peek at your business card. A glimpse at your stationery.

Quick. What image comes to mind? Chances are your logo formed that image more than your name. It screamed at the viewer: Creative! Dull! Classy! Disorganized! Economical! Cheesy!

Getting the logo to scream the right message at the right volume is vital. But how does the small business owner achieve that goal. It’s Your Business queried in Problem 264.


The logo – whether it’s a certain typeface, monogram or symbol – is a company’s first statement about its marketing position, says Jack Potter of Potter Marketing & Branding in Irvine, CA, who has been designing logos for more than five decades.

“The average person is bombarded with thousands of messages per day,” Potter says, “Words become a blur, but well-designed logos get remembered.”

“The small business owner should determine the image he or she wants the company to project before choosing a logo,” he adds. If you say “quality” but the logo doesn’t, people will wonder. If your message is “low-cost leader,” a glitzy logo might convey that you’re overpriced.”

A business logo is the most important first introduction,” says Mitch Goldstone, a partner in 30 Minute Photos Etc. in Irvine. “If the logo doesn’t attract immediate attention, then it may lose the interest of potential customers.”

A logo is such an integral part of a company’s image that it shouldn’t change on a whim.

Meyerhof’s Cuisine in Irvine is considering changing its logo after 24 years, “And it’s a brutal battle,” Ann Crane says. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to create a crisp new look, capitalizing on what we do well and telling the story in a new and better way,” Crane says. “But it’s going to be expensive to change all our printed materials.”

But companies are dynamic creatures. Sometimes they must change their logos when the company changes.

The first logo for Myers Carpet Care of Tustin was a smiling carpet being cleaned by an industrious looking cartoon character. But the company now emphasizes its specialty of repairing water-damaged carpets, President Tom Myers says.

A few months ago, Myers replaced the smiling carpet on his literature and his truck with a distressed character up to his neck in water.


Hiring a professional to develop a logo ” is a must, as far as I’m concerned” says Roger Monell, owner of Ads-On-Line, a computerized classified advertising service in Laguna Hills. He turned to Rob DeLiema of Studio Graphics in Laguna Hills to create a logo incorporating the name, a hand dialing a touch-tone phone and the slogan “classified ads at your fingertips.”

But before hiring a logo designer, look at samples of recent work, suggests Pat Portfolio of Portfolio Advertising in Huntington Beach.

Potter Marketing & Branding says, “A great logo is a perfect blend of insight and creativity, but you cannot have insight without information. If your logo designer does not request the details of your business and a profile of the customers it attracts, find another logo designer”

The portfolio magazine has seen excellent logos that cost $300 and disastrous ones that cost $1 million. “High price is no guarantee.” [Neither is a low one…you may get what you paid for.]

Never stage a contest to find a new logo, insists Walter J. McGee of Placentia, even though he won the contest to design the logo for the Security Systems of Rockwell. He was told he was the only suitable submission.

“They were lucky to get one,” McGee says.

The business owner should dictate the image to be conveyed but leave the design to the professional, Potter says. In fact, the owner shouldn’t even make the final decision if he or she has no artistic ability. “

“Marketing research surveys should be used before creation and after the design is finalized,” Potter says. “The final decision should come from one’s own marketplace.”

McGee cites a major computer corporation that paid a lot of money to an industrial design company and wanted 100 separate designs.” There is no way to obtain 100 truly first-class logo designs for any purpose” he says. “Couple that with an executive with absolutely no artistic ability.” The final choice “was a stylized ‘C’ that looked like a toilet seat (that) soon became the object of ridicule by company employees and customers.”


Before making a final choice, test it in the marketplace, suggests Irvine marketing and branding guru Jack Potter. “Ask potential customers and people in your industry to select from several logos. Find out what attracts them. Never go on “Gut Feel.”

Chuck Burnes took that approach, and it prompted changes in the logo for Periwinkle Productions of Anaheim. The company can book more than 2,000 different theatrical acts. But the first logo – a director’s chair with a company name on the back, surrounded by entertainment accessories such as a microphone and rabbit in a top hat – left people with the impression that the firm offered just variety acts. To depict its musical bookings, Periwinkle placed a violin in the chair.


Once Goldstone selected the logo for 30 Minute Photos Etc., he registered it with the Patent and Trademark Office. “I had to have a trademark for the logo and service mark for the actual name, he says. “otherwise only the image of the logo would be protected.”

The fee was $175, and the trademark form didn’t require an attorney’s help to complete Goldstone says. “However, it did take almost one year to receive the final trademark from Washington, D.C.

Once chosen, the logo must be used in all the company’s communications, Potter says. It must be identifiable whether in a magazine or on the side of a truck, and whether it’s the size of a pinhead or a football field, he says, “and don’t forget…it must be memorable.”

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