Break Logo Design Rules For Better Branding

June 15, 2012 by  Filed under: Branding 

Forget all the rules you know about logo design. Think about what you are really trying to accomplish. Are you trying to get attention, be memorable, stand out? Are you trying to increase awareness and boost sales? Yes, but a traditional logo does little to accomplish these goals. A traditional logo is just a symbol, at the end of the day. It doesn’t jump up and down and shout at you. It doesn’t look you, square in the eye, and say, “Hey bub – what about this!” It doesn’t make people say, “Oh – look at that… I LIKE it!” A traditional logo is passive. It is a static graphic that gets lost in an ocean of other symbols. There are only so many colors in the rainbow; so many fonts to choose from; and so many distinct shapes and lines.

So what can you do to stand out? Develop a brand mascot to promote your brand. There are many reasons why they work much better than static logos. First – they have eyes. Did you every get the feeling that someone is looking at you? That’s the magical effect eyes have. Humans have an innate ability to sense whenever there is a set of eyes staring at them. What could be a more powerful attention-getting tool! Moreover, eyes are the windows to a person’s soul, or at least their subconscious. If you’ve ever fallen in love, you know it probably started by staring into that special person’s eyes and seeing something – a special look that drew you in and made you feel “something.” Eyes are extremely expressive and say many things to us – all without one spoken word. How powerful is it to evoke that kind of emotional response with the cornerstone of your marketing campaign! Logos do not have eyes, so they can’t evoke a “warm-and-fuzzy.” A well designed brand mascot can though.

Beyond the eyes, there is the mouth – a friendly, engaging smile. It’s a scientific fact that smiles are contagious. When someone smiles at you, it is hard not to smile back. And when your face is wearing a smile, it affects your outlook. Professional counselors tell people, if they are feeling depressed, one of the things they can do is force a smile on their face for a few minutes. Try it! There is something about wearing a smile that releases pheromones, and lifts your spirits, despite whatever else is going on. So when your brand mascot makes eye contact, it gets attention; and when the person sees its smile, they tend to smile themselves, which takes them to a happy place; and isn’t that a great association to have with ANY brand!

A traditional logo cannot create this kind of emotional response, and ALL buying decisions have a strong emotional element to them. Why not start off by putting people in the right emotional frame of mind whenever they encounter your brand.

A brand mascot, like any person, also has its own personality, which makes it more endearing and memorable. Charlie the tuna is a frustrated wise guy. Trix the rabbit demonstrates relentless good nature as he tries to get his hands on Kix cereal. Morris the cat was extremely finicky. Each of the M&M characters has a different personality to make them more interesting. Red is the A type personality leader who is a little over the top. Yellow has a nut inside so he is a little nutty, and slow. Green is the sexy female. Brown is the studious bookworm. Again, a traditional logo cannot have personality traits to make them more intriguing.

When was the last time you heard a logo speak? It doesn’t happen, but brand mascots do it all the time. Even if don’t have the budget to bring your brand mascot to life through animation, you can always use a cartoon bubble to give them a voice. Their voice make a brand mascot extremely versatile. They can convey any message you want to reinforce your brand. You can mix it up and cover a wide array of topics with the voice of your mascot. A traditional logo can’t do any of this.

So why do so many people put so much emphasis on developing a logo instead of a brand mascot? Because it is easier – easier to execute, and easier to understand the nuances of design. Designing a brand mascot is a little more involved. It’s pretty easy to put a swoosh beside a word. The Nike swoosh actually only cost $35 for design. I don’t want to say all logo designs are that easy. They are not. There are important design considerations involving color, typography, visual weight, and reproduction integrity, but designing a brand mascot requires the additional skill/talent it takes to bring something to life. It takes a lot of talent and practice to put the right twinkle in the eye of a cartoon character. And not all cartoonists are adept at brand mascot design. Many styles of cartoons are not right for brand marketing. Newspaper editorial cartoonist do great work, but their sketchy pen and ink style doesn’t lend itself to brand building. A comic book artist can make very dynamic images, but they are drawn to create drama and tension – not good for brand building.

If you are going to have a brand mascot designed for your business, work with a professional that specializes in brand mascot design. You will be pleasantly surprised with the extras you get. A good brand mascot designer can also help you design a logo that compliments the cartoon character. They really should work in harmony. The designer should be able to provide you with a variety of illustrations of your brand mascot, doing different things, all in the same style. Some can also provide you with animation services, packaging design, merchandising display design and much more.

Learn more about cartoon brand mascots at Dave Thompson’s Web site at

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