I would like to welcome guest writer Dr. Bill Haig expert at credibility based logos.
By William L. Haig
Chairman, CEO Powerlogos Design, Co-author, The Power of Logos: How to Create Effective Company Logos, NY: Wiley
Brands, which are credibility-based, sell product. They also have brand value, or ROI. The key is a Credibility Based Logo Design as the cornerstone of an integrated brand promotion system. The result is that marketing communication which is planned to add credibility to the brand image. Credibility branding is a prudent investment in better selling and in an accrued financial return on marketing expenditure.
Credibility Based Logo Design
Credibility is best expressed by the company logo. But it is also company advertising, website, public relations, product and product packaging – every thing a company does.
The company logo is the core of a credibility-based company brand. But, all marketing communication, including the logo, must work with credibility-based consistency to achieve the credibility-based company brand.
But let's break this down by just describing Credibility Based Logo Design.
The Eight Essentials
How credibility works in logo design is the subject of this article. This article describes the eight must criteria a Credibility Based Logo Design program must have to be successful.
These criteria are based on the teachings of logo design legend, Saul Bass (AT&T, Rockwell International, United Way, Alcoa, Minolta, United Airlines, Continental Airlines circa 1968 -1982 among many others). Saul's teachings were refined in university-supervised research I conducted as part of an advanced degree in Communication which later became the premise of my best-selling book, and is also the subject of my PhD dissertation in credibility-based branding.
1) Logos must be credibility-based. This is the utmost essential. It is based on a simple principle: credibility persuasion. Just as credible people are more influential, so are company logos on the business card or letterhead. Many studies in people to people communication conclude that if a person as the source of the message is competent or knowledgeable as well as trustworthy, then the message will be more readily accepted by the receiver. The person is considered credible and more influential.
The research I conducted several years ago supports my premise that if a company logo as the source of the message is also designed as competent, knowledgeable, or expert in its field of business as well as trustworthy, then the company's message will be more readily accepted by the receiver – most often the customer. My study was the first ever to validate this premise.
Knowing "what" to put into the logo in the first place is 90 percent of the logo design job! Design is important. Content is more important.
2) Logos must symbolize the company business to be credibility-based. Okay, how does a logo become credibility-based? It is easy to understand that when a computer wiz talks about the best compact to buy, he will be more influential on this subject than, say, a chef. And, if a chef talks about a new restaurant in town, he will be more influential on this subject than the computer wiz (well, in most cases).
The person most "expert" on the subject will be more persuasive. This is how credibility persuasion works between people assuming both are trustworthy.
How does this same principle apply to designing the company logo? The first thing a competent credibility-based logo designer does is symbolize the company business in the logo. Voila! This says that the company is an expert in that business. Like the shoe repair or key shops with their signs depicting their business. We know their business specialty, their expertise. Symbolizing the company business is key to a successful logo. But there is more.
3) Logos must also be designed to communicate that the company is trustworthy. This gets a bit trickier to understand, but here we go. Tom Housen wanted a credibility-based logo. This company is a quality house painter. The company's trustworthy traits are: "highly professional", "competent", "efficient" and "provides quality" workmanship. These are traits which contribute to our believing that Housen Painting is expert in its area of business.
We started with symbolizing the basic business which is the company's area of expertise: house painting. Then, we added design forms which would "non-verbally" express the desired trustworthy traits so that we believe Housen Painting can do what it says it can do. Here are the early progressions incorporating the desired trustworthy traits:
This is where the expertise symbol couples with trustworthy traits to become a great, credibility-based logo as shown here in the final Housen Painting logo design.
It is strong and communicates with high impact as well.
All companies have different trustworthy traits. An airline might want to communicate "highly technological" and "efficient service." A public transportation system, "professional" and "friendly." An antique shop, "been around a long time" and "neighborly." A website designer, "cutting-edge knowledge" and "highly creative." And a bank, "stable."
Other trustworthy attributes include: large, conservative, innovative, exciting, dynamic and traditional. They always support the company being expert in what it does. They are also a true statement about the company.
A third prong of company credibility is forward thinking. This is a company which is innovative. Recent research indicates that this is a high enough attribute to be included with expert and trustworthy. Being innovative is accomplished when a designer makes the whole logo come alive with a contemporary motif.
Besides Housen Painting, several examples of credibility-based logos are at the end of this paper (check back next Wednesday for part 2).
4) Logos must be planned. A great logo doesn't come out of thin air. It has a basis for being. We know that logos have content and they have design form. But what content and what design form? Content and design must work together to communicate what the logo is to "say" in order to be credible. This requires a plan.
A competent designer first asks our clients to fill out a questionnaire. When the designer analyses the questionnaire, he looks for traits which make this client credible.
This becomes the logo design strategy which is included in a design brief, or Logo Planning Report. The report actually verbally describes the client's ideal logo, it's content and design form. The design team uses this plan as a guide the design of preliminary logos leading to the final design. The designer refers back to this plan when the final logo is presented for approval as a basis for judgment.
The Logo Planning Report based on credibility-based logo design strategy saves many hours of otherwise wasted time. It gives the design team a specific direction. The costs of logos have come down dramatically from the $90,000 and up days. How about $750?
Stay tuned for Part 2 next Wednesday to learn the other 4 criteria of credibility based logos, as well as some examples of logos that are not tracking with the criteria.
Bill Haig is a PhD candidate in Management with a specialty in credibility-based branding expressed through visual communication. For a no-cost evaluation of your company logo, please send an email to bill at firstname.lastname@example.org. In your email request please include the following information: (1) how would you describe the company to someone who has never heard anything about it and (2) what makes their company special i.e. what does the owner do to make it work successfully. Bill must have these answers to evaluate their logo relative to its credibility power, not how beautiful the logo might be. He can also be reached toll free at 877.922.4042 (Hawaii Standard Time.)