Branding has always fascinated me — it takes a company’s logo and name and marries it with a vision and strong set of values. Branding can be great or it can suck; there’s not a lot of in between. Think of Apple, and then think of Best Buy. Apple has branding down pat; Best Buy, not so much.
One of my all-time favorites is the Quiksilver logo. It has incredible sticking power. I believe that logos should stand on their own, without the need for words or the company name (note: Best Buy). If your branding is strong enough that a simple image can sub in for the name of your company, that’s marketing nirvana. That means that when people see your visuals, they don’t just think of your company name. Take Target; when you see that bullseye, you think of Target. But you also think competitive prices, variety, red, dependability, etc. — all the values the brand embodies, or aims to. Apple: design, usability, intrigue. Nike: speed, power, quality. The best logos carry a message about the company’s core values and vision.
Quiksilver’s logo is the mountain and the wave. It combines two key extreme sports that the company caters to. It marries land and sea. It combines elements and forces, and takes the viewer on a journey. It shows that their products can take you from the depths of the ocean to the earth’s great peaks. All this to say that it evokes emotion. Granted, the typical person probably isn’t going to have these extreme feelings every time they see the Quiksilver logo. But surfers and boarders and adventurers might. They know what it’s like to slide down the face of an overhead wave or carve fresh power. Those are the people who are going to feel something when they see that logo in print, on their idols, on their equipment and apparel.
Of course, a brand cannot hold up a product. Whatever a company makes or designs must stand on its own merits and speak for itself. A logo can only mirror real values and quality. But if you have a great product, great service and a sense of who your core customer is, then a well done brand can make all the difference.
The coolest thing about well-executed branding is that great logos don’t have to change. That doesn’t mean that your company won’t go through a few iterations to freshen up or keep up with the times, but a good logo can and will stand the test of time. Complete overhauls are rarely needed for companies with a strong brand and values.