As a society that labels everything it can be difficult to escape the names given to us or our business. In our heads our business does one thing but if we are labelled as another it’s tough to redefine the label.
Take foods labelled as vegetarian or vegan for example. In your head I’m going to presume that you have a very specific idea of what that is. It will depend on your lifestyle and exposure to the term and the food itself. Omnivores in general tend to back away from foods labelled this way.
This can be somewhat confusing because in actuality omnivores eat plenty of foods that are indeed vegan. Cereals, candy, and even bean burritos are often vegan (with exceptions) just to name a few. In fact lots of foods we eat daily do not contain meat, eggs, or dairy and we think nothing of it.
Then a smart marketing person comes along starts slapping vegan onto the packaging of foods. This is great for those that identify with the vegan diet. It makes it so much easier to suss out what does and does not have some sort of animal byproduct in it. The marketing company is trying to expand their market by being inclusive of vegans.
This is awesome, except for the fact that people who would instantaneously inhale their food before might take pause because it suddenly is “vegan”.
The strength of a label polarizes. This is both the pro and con of our tendency to label. In our brains we can sort everything out into different compartments. It’s easier to understand something new if it fits into an existing box we have already defined. The con is how those boxes are defined.
The boxes in our brains are more than just dictionary-like definitions. They also are attached to opinion and emotion. So depending on how you feel about vegan food, when you see the label you might suddenly like or dislike it because it belongs in a container you’ve created.
Vegan pizza could be quite a stretch for some. They are two different boxes and could be mutually exclusive to one another—yet, Virtuous Pie exists and are serving vegan pizza daily.
Vegan is just a word. As a label it carries a lot of weight. You need to be thinking of your logo in the same way.
An apple with a bite out of it is just a picture. It could just as easily be a piece of clipart. Attach it to a company as a logo and suddenly it’s no longer just a picture.
The Apple logo conveys modern simplicity. Everything that has the Apple logo on it fits into a box inside our heads. We’ve defined the box and attached our opinions to everything Apple. When something ends up in this box we know exactly how we will respond to it.
We talk a lot about brand and brand promises around here. Brand promises are what we as a company or business try to convey to consumers as our offering. It’s like a mission statement—”This is what you are going to get from us”.
Brand is the part that grows and develops in spite of our efforts to control it. That box that has a definition and opinion attached to it—that’s the brand. It lives inside your customers and potential customers. It’s everything they think of your business.
So let’s look at Virtuous Pie again. They are a vegan pizza place. In my head I have a defined box for pizza and one for vegan. This is where it gets a little bit more complex. I now have a pizza I must put in the vegan box. The whole idea of vegan pizza just grew in complexity but I have a good idea of what it is. That is because of labelling.
The same thing applies to Apple and its logo. So let’s say I have a box in my head for computer companies and then another one for apples. Somehow I mash them up in my head to create a new definition for Apple the company that is far more complex.
This is what happens when logos are created for companies. They allow a company to take on traits from what is graphically being represented.
When logo design is taken too lightly it risks connecting traits to a business it did not intend. So while labelling foods as vegan can be great for vegans it also defines their target market. A logo does the same thing.
With a logo we are connecting the dots between our industry and the values that differentiate us in the minds of the consumer. It is in this way that we can paint a new picture and start a new box in their heads. Hopefully it is one that represents the business the same way we see it.
How does your logo deepen the definition of your business in the minds of others?