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.


The art of directing people to places they want to go has been around a few centuries. Today we have statistical data that shows us how critical it is as part of a guest and brand experience. Wayfinding (or public signing) is a broad subject. In any atmosphere, private resort or city center, it should enhance the architecture, be placed on common sight lines and, most importantly, be legible.

For example, the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale/Phoenix uses a system of wayfinding blade signs intermingled with pedestal kiosks that educate guests on native cultures and artifacts throughout the resort campus. This combination of utilitarian directional signage with educational stops in between is the perfect brand experience for the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa.

Taking a tour at Miller Brewing

Showing your facility to the public is the ultimate form of marketing, public relations and brand reinforcement. Providing an "edutaining" experience (the process of both entertaining and educating) is critical.

Miller Brewing Company has created the ultimate "Edutaining" tour. It hooked all graphic, animated and photographic images on Frederick Miller's original promise in 1857—Quality, Uncompromising and Unchanging. A new streetscape was designed to bring the historical brew house and horse stables back to their original condition. This was put into place along with modern beer-making exhibits, hologram displays, tour route signs, themed retail and a brand trivia motion wall display.

Touching all five senses is a critical part of the Miller Brewing Company tour. You see, hear, touch, smell and most importantly taste the quality that is Miller Beer.

The overall goal was to provide a "Wow" factor that is entertaining and educational. From the tour tickets and wristbands at the beginning to the coasters for the product samples at the end, the Miller Brewing Tour is a comprehensive walk through time to reinforce Miller's corporate values and product quality.

Designing a tour

When you begin the process of tour development, draft a script that provides unique information about your product or service, particularly if this information is unknown to your customers. For a resort tour, talk about the native culture and people who occupied the surrounding land through time. For a sports arena or stadium, detail construction facts and resources needed to prepare for a game day. In other words give your guest something to take away that expresses your uniqueness. Via this educational approach, you empower your guests to spread that knowledge to the world.

Delivering on the promise of space

Every resort facility, theme park, sports stadium and private business must create a visual brand plan for the space it occupies. From the parking lot to the rest rooms to the 50-yard line and end zone, you must continue to reinforce your cultural brand promise to your customers. A strong interior graphic design program uses exhibits, public signing, banners, ad panels, themed concessions, landscape architecture and more to surround your guests in your culture. This is critical to retain and maintain your revenue stream.

The renovated Lambeau Field, the "jewel" of the NFL, intercepts you in every inch of its space. From entrance signage to the concourses to the players tunnel and the Hall of Fame, the glory that is Green Bay Packer football has been kept alive for generations to come. The Packer "G" logo (Vince Lombardi and his equipment manager designed it in 1961) is one of the most recognized symbols on earth. It has achieved that status in two ways—time and human values. If your graphic identity can stand the test of time and be associated with a positive human spirit or value, you win—period.

A mascot is born

We all have our favorite mascots whether they are sport, product or service based. The development of a mascot is simply a line extension of your core brand philosophy. You create a character that represents what you are in a life form. The life form is an animation, a way for you to show others how to embrace your brand.

For example, a comprehensive mascot program was developed for the Great Wolf Lodge Resorts. Billed as one of the largest indoor waterparks in the world, Great Wolf Lodge in the Wisconsin Dells has been named best family resort by major magazines and newspapers. The firm has done an excellent job of integrating family fun into the vacation experience. Mascots are a part of that experience. Kids relate perfectly to animals, and the Northwoods-style theme of the resorts inspired the creation of "Biko" the Bear and "Wiley" the Wolf.

In order to fulfill the promise of "creating family memories worth repeating," it was critical that Biko and Wiley have a strong presence throughout every aspect of the resort and in the collateral materials that promote them. The development of an on-site and online Cub Club was a way for kids to interact and learn from their new-found friends. Special game discounts, nature walks and educational activities are all benefits of Cub Club membership. The greatest benefit however for the resort is a continued stream of income due to repeat visits from kids who can't wait to see Biko and Wiley in person.

  • Make sure the character is an extension of your core attributes, values and marketing image.

  • Naming is critical. It must be memorable, have alliteration, and be easily learned and retained. Humor and animation add to the fun.

  • Develop a background story for your mascot(s). Where were they born? What is their favorite foods? Who are their friends? What do they like to do? This gives him or her more personality. Again, humor, entertainment and education are all critical.

  • Give your mascot human characteristics. Accentuate and exaggerate a physical feature.

  • Put him/her everywhere. He/she represents all that is good within your company.

Logos are a great tool to accomplish marketing goals and enhance your corporate image. But good design and functionality are just the first step. Careful quality control and standards and uniform application to all of its uses are essential to build equity in the logo and to make corporate identification a major contributor to present-day and future profitability.

Mark Schmitz is president and creative director of ZD Studios, a full-service brand design firm in Madison, Wis. He can be reached at

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