Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What have you done with my logo?

Every once in a while someone comes up with the bright idea that a presentation to a company will be just a little more appealing if the proposal cover has a their logo on it. This seems like a pretty good idea. How could they not love seeing their logo? You might be surprised. We all know that technology is making designers out of some unlikely people. We also know that computer images, scanners, color copiers and neighborhood copy stores make it possible to do slick graphics with interesting binding options and paper stock selection. But do you really think the reader of your document is impressed with his own logo as interpreted by you? Even if you are an agency or design firm this is a risky move. (Check that...especially if you are an agency or design firm.)

The graphic standards manual for Mercedes-Benz is 18” think and in German. So it isn’t hard to imagine violating their logo use guidelines. The familiar tri-star image is nearly universal. Don’t make the mistake of thinking Hellmuth in Purchasing appreciates you taking liberties with it. Sure you want to get his North American office supply account. But forget about trying to lull him into believing your company and his are in symbolic graphic harmony. If you look carefully, you will notice that logos change more frequently now than they use to. Federal Express is now FedEx. Pepsi changes the design graphics on their soft drink cans every season. Shell Oil service stations stopped using any type on their signs. Campbell Soup isn’t afraid to show a sprig of broccoli on their cream of broccoli cans. (Putting a food shot on the trademark can was unthinkable not so long ago.) None of this gives you permission to screw around with someone else’s logo.

Even lesser known companies think long and hard about how they want their corporate identity to be represented. So why risk the rudeness of undoing something the company has been trying to do with their company marks and logo? Let’s face it the odds are that you are more likely to offend the prospective client than impress them. I say: Don’t do it.There are at least a hundred ways to get it wrong: the wrong color, the wrong alignment, the inappropriate use of the logo next to another logo, the wrong type style, the close but outdated mark, the wrong division, the wrong size proportions. The list goes on and on of ways to commit a faux pas.

What should you do instead? Present yourself and your company in the best possible light with a tasteful and well designed document. Spend your energy on presenting your company and your proposal in clear, concise terms with smart clean design. It’s okay to be visual when communicating a point or prospect benefit. If you need to get cute to make a point - do it with your own logo. You only have one chance to make a first impression. Don’t blow it by trying to be too familiar. It doesn’t work.

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