Create like an artist but think like a strategist

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This article originally appeared on Visual Media Alliance

Today, a company’s logo is no longer a solitary symbol of a brand. Though the classic Coke cursive logo or Adidas’ iconic three stripes serve as critical brand recognition, other companies must consider how their logos will be used to represent their brands cross-medium. More specifically, companies must challenge the creative team responsible with developing their visual identity systems to produce a final product that is designed with strategic intent and inspired by uninhibited conceptualization.

A successful logo not only serves as recognizable brand iconography, but it needs to reflect the brand’s overall strategy and purpose. Modern marketing has taught us that successful brands must stand for something that connects with customers, instead of letting the customer’s control their identity, and ultimately, their strategy. This poses a set of new challenges for creatives who are designing these logos: Designers must create like an artist yet think like a strategist.

Make the Designer an Extension of Your Team

While designers are briefed on brand strategy, it’s imperative that they understand their client’s business goals. Logos need to be fluid, as the company changes over time and design with that evolution in mind. However, much of this can only be done if clients treat their creative agencies as familial extensions of their team.

Marks Must Be Agile

Marks need to be both flexible and adaptable. A logo should not only be dynamic enough to conform to the various needs of the company, it needs to be fluid in terms of its application across various mediums and executions. A mark may look attractive, but does it have room to grow? A logo certainly should be visually pleasing, but does it have depth? What subliminal meaning or greater purpose does it represent? Truly successful logos will carry the company forward and evolve in tandem.

Don’t Become Obsolete

Successful companies focus on their customer’s needs and how to add value to their lives. Companies who submit their brand identities to crowd-sourced input jeopardize losing sight of their core values, resulting in loss of market share and revenue. While every creative wants to avoid developing identities that are universally rejected, such as Gap’s brief logo revamp, handing creative control to those with little to no perspective into a company’s strategic market position will prove to be disastrous.

Instead of immersing themselves in mood boards and typography alone, designers must think strategically: How can a logo represent a brand’s mission or values in a way that is deeply meaningful? How should brand iconography evolve and adapt with technology? A logo must serve a larger business function. More than developing just a logo and visual system, the identity needs to be able to propel the company’s story which will directly impact the bottom line … the client’s profits.

Anne Swan is executive creative director at Siegel+Gale. Follow her on Twitter: @cityswan

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