Is your logo effective? Tips to evaluate your visual identity

People are passionate and loyal to brands they feel connected to and that doesn’t just apply to coffee and sneakers, it is relevant to nonprofit brands too. Loyalty leads to increased awareness, participation and donations. A logo, as the visual representation of your charity’s brand, is often the first touch-point your audience will have with your organisation. It should make a connection with the viewer by evoking an emotional response.

Written by
Julia Reich
Added
May 23, 2013

How is that done and how do you know if it’s done well?

When my company undertakes a logo design project, we conduct research to determine the brand’s attributes. Then, during the creative process, we communicate how the logo should make a person ‘feel’ using a combination of the following graphic elements:

Typefaces to use for the name of the organisation: fonts can be elegant, fun, and modern. Typestyles evoke emotion, so they should be carefully considered.

Imagery: if used, an icon or other graphic images should enhance the name of the organisation, not overshadow it.

Colour: perhaps the most important consideration, colour has been shown to have measurable psychological impact and is often affiliated with a specific industry. For example, blue is calming and often used in the healthcare and financial sectors all over the world; green is natural and healthy; yellow is youthful and cheerful; white is cool, clean and fresh; and red is powerful and energetic.

When we first began presenting our logo concepts to clients, the meetings that followed often ended up being subjective discussions of who liked blue better than green. This was not particularly helpful and so we developed guidelines for our clients to help them to constructively review their options:

  • Is it legible? Is it easy to read and understand?
  • Does it have impact? Does it stand out and catch your eye?
  • Is it meaningful? Does it support your organisation’s goals and objectives?
  • Is it different enough from your ‘competition’ and does it avoid obvious visual clichés? For example, a project we did recently for a community organisation placed a lot of emphasis on ethnic diversity. When we examined similar groups we discovered many logos that used multi-coloured hands – hand holding, overlapping hands, hands in circles. We decided to emphasise this group’s uniqueness by offering other design solutions.
  • Is it authentic? Does it feel genuine and appropriate for what you do, who you do it for and who you want to reach? If you offer services for the homeless, for example, you wouldn’t want your logo to look like one for a contemporary art museum.
  • Does it have enduring value? Will it stand the test of time and look just as fresh in several years as it does now? Logo designs can fall into trendy traps. For instance, according to logolounge.com, ‘nested circles’ and overlapping, transparent colours in logo designs are all the rage right now. (Check out this article for more on recent logo trends.)
  • Is it flexible? Will it work across different media, such as your website, business card, tote bag, PowerPoint slide, email newsletter, direct mail?
  • Will it work for you both in colour and in black and white?
  • Do you need a tagline with it and, if so, will it accommodate one?

Finally, remember that the logo is not the only element of your brand identity. It is a part of the whole picture, but not the whole picture. We use the logo within an entire brand system, with other elements such as colour, typography, images, core messages, etc, that help to complete your unique story. In other words, the logo does not necessarily have to communicate everything you stand for.

This article originally appeared on Nonprofit Marketing Guide

About the author: Julia Reich

Julia Reich

Julia Reich is principal of Julia Reich Design, which helps nonprofit organisations bring their mission to life with award-winning brand strategy, graphic design and web design services.

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