Guest Column - April 2004
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Marketing Musts

Building Your Facility’s Brand from Logos to Mascots

By Mark Schmitz

Marketing a winning image in an absolute necessity in today's visually sophisticated marketplace. How important is cash flow, attendance or meeting sales goals? None are more important than your facility's brand identity. Your brand is your promise. You must develop it, nurture it, constantly feed it, and it will serve you well.

Your organization's logo is a great tool to accomplish marketing goals and enhance your facility's image. But good design and functionality are just the first step. Careful quality control, graphic standardization and uniform application to all of the logo's various uses are essential to building more equity in your identity. A new visual brand plan or an updated design program can make your facility's identification a major contributor to your profitability.

  • Designing your logo: Make it emotional. The mark of good logo is to evoke an emotional response from your various audiences. You can control that response with proper imagery, consistent application and frequency.

  • Keep it simple: The most effective logos have fewer graphic elements. Think of your logo as your professional thumbprint. Recognizable and simple.

  • Coordinate how your logo is used: Think of your normal collateral material. Where will your identity appear? Think in terms of each application—signage, stationery, Web site, clothing/apparel, cars, trucks, and equipment. A high-quality brand can be destroyed with bad detailing.

  • Use a professional design firm: This is critical. Yes, you do get what you pay for, and a professional design firm will deliver a comprehensive visual plan to an identity program. Professionals develop and guide your identity with graphic standards to control color, shape and reproduction. Quality control through the many years you use an identity system depends on the thorough technical knowledge of an experienced and talented design company.

  • Your logo is an investment, not an expense: Your logo is often the first thing your customer sees. With time and frequency your visual brand will pay enormous dividends. Be patient. The road to top brand recognition takes time.

Developing a graphic standards and usage program for your logo and visual collateral is critical to the success of your investment. It should go into great detail on proper usage of a logo in signage, printed materials, advertising and Web-animated applications. Develop a manual on "living the lifestyle" of your brand. Here you must go beyond usage and color to educate people on what emotional stimuli should surround the mark. This is critical to your success in developing a unique image.

New building, new brand opportunities

Are you in the middle of new construction, a merger, remodeling or a move to new facilities? Visual brand opportunities abound. Put your graphic design professional, architect and interior designer together. Give them the charge to use the entire physical facility as a marketing challenge. There are hundreds of ways to incorporate a visual brand statement into construction elements and décor. Examples: floor and wall coverings, reception areas, exterior signage and customer spaces. When the John Hancock Building was built in Chicago years ago, the entire building became a lowercase "h" logo that was then applied everywhere within the building.

Lambeau Field: a case study

The newly renovated Lambeau Field is the first "retro" styled stadium designed in the NFL. And the Green Bay Packers are perhaps the only team in the NFL who could pull this off. The history, tradition and legend that represent Packer football had to be graphically fulfilled throughout the $295 million renovated stadium. Since 1919, local fan-shareholders have owned the team. The new stadium had to reflect and be sensitive to this history and tradition.

When developing an advertising plan for a facility, it is important to create a graphic standards program for each sponsor to follow. In the case of the new Lambeau Field, the plan called for special color pallets, typestyles and imagery that tied all sponsors to the central theme of 1930s-style leather helmet football, "back when a torn ACL was simply called a limp." This avoided the "trade show" effect—the look where every sponsor is allowed to put their current advertising campaign on the walls of a stadium concourse. Where Coke is next to Kraft is next to Target. The colors, messages and imagery become a hodgepodge of confusing signs and colors that clash like a trade show floor.

It was no trouble convincing sponsors to follow the image plan. To have your brand associated with Packer football in one of the most significant stadiums in professional sports certainly pays off. Having the concourses, bathrooms, executive offices, team spaces and environmental graphics and sponsor advertising all sing in harmony is the ultimate in effective visual brand symmetry. Graphic standards work not only for vendor/tenants but are also critical for the principal client to assure long-term integrity in reproduction quality and colors.