by Jennifer Kasowicz, MA, Laura Ludka, Kate Purdy, Hannah Durnas, Steve Biernacki, Megan Styler
August 11, 2021
Think about some well-known brands: Disney. Apple. Target. LEGO. Do you instantly recognize their logos? Most likely, the answer is yes. Now ask yourself what you think of when you see these logos. Are the companies fun? Family-friendly? Do the logos connote cutting-edge technology? Connection? Reliability? Creativity?
A logo is much more than a symbol or icon; it is the visual form of an organization’s brand. An effective logo should evoke an understanding and recognition of an organization—from its mission and vision statements to its personality and essence. It represents a brand’s promise to its intended audience, now and in the future.
What’s your number one takeaway from this article? Creating a logo that can clearly articulate your unique brand promise requires necessary building blocks and processes.
Building Your Team
Creating a new logo takes a dedicated group of individuals ready to make an impact and open to the process. Association volunteers know the industry and organization better than anyone. When selecting volunteers to support this project, consider a smaller subset, knowing that the final logo may need approval by the entire board of directors. A smaller subset of the board of directors, your marketing committee, or individuals representing a variety of your committees make perfect candidates for this working group. This group will work closely with marketing and creative professionals to evaluate the data, have inspired discussions, and make final recommendations to the board of directors.
Building Your Brand Foundation
While we all have our personal preferences about design, logo design shouldn’t rely on a subjective process. Instead, it should be driven by data and market awareness.
Gaining an understanding of what your current—and target—audiences think about your brand will help you identify what your organization stands for and how you want to be perceived in the marketplace.
Through focus groups and interviews with your audiences, you’ll hear what matters most to your members and how your brand is perceived. As you listen to your members, prospects, and industry partners, it’s important to consider how your organization differentiates itself from others in your space. Conduct a competitive overview and market analysis of the future of your industry to help determine what sets your organization apart from the rest.
“It’s not what you as an individual may like, it’s whether it fulfills your brand.”
By presenting data-driven findings, you can gain buy-in from key stakeholders as to what should be achieved through a new visual identity. You will be armed with the data you need to evaluate your current brand building blocks and make informed decisions about the visual identity and brand perception you’re striving for. Yes, design can be subjective; but, ultimately, it’s not what you as an individual may like, it’s whether it fulfills your brand.
Building Your Logo
Although the logo is the last step of your brand building blocks, the visual representation of your organization’s messaging, vision, and mission statements are vital components to creating a strong logo. As experts in visual representations, your graphic design team should be part of the conversation from the very first brainstorm. It is your marketing team’s and volunteers’ jobs to fully describe the mission, vision, brand, experience, and market to the designer. Then, it is the designer’s job to visually represent those aspects.
As you review logo options, be open-minded. Through seeing a number of different visual identities and having a constructive conversation, you’ll work together to create a logo that truly articulates your organization. If your building blocks are based in research, you can be confident that your visual identity and new logo will hit the mark.
Building Your New Look
Launching your new brand and logo should be fun and thoughtful – a great opportunity to gain awareness of your organization and engagement with your community.
Consider creating a full visual experience and presentation:
- Prepare an unveiling video at your annual conference or at a membership meeting; then share across social media and via email.
- Prepare a podcast that discusses the evolution of your brand and what you hope to achieve with this new identity.
- Send a press release to your media list to let fellow industry stakeholders know about your new identifier.
The launch is just the beginning. With this new logo comes an opportunity to refresh the visual identity of your suite of resources – from your website to publications, conference theme designs, educational products, and more.
Take a new look at your logo. Does it tell the story you want? If not, then a new or refreshed brand and logo might be in order. Two Smithbucklin clients recently embarked on a new logo project – read on to understand the challenges, opportunities, and decisions of the associations.
Case Study #1: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES)
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) has a diverse membership serving the spectrum of human factors/ergonomics professionals from academia to research and industry practitioners. With this breadth and ability to bring together HF/E professionals from all industries, there was a general feeling that the HFES brand may not reflect their ability to serve their entire membership. Before making any changes, HFES asked questions and listened to what their members and non-members had to say about the Society and their brand. Based on the feedback shared in focus groups, HFES decided that they had the right intentions, but needed to better refine the wording of their brand components to more clearly articulate their purpose. This clarity translated into a new logo that better represents their entire membership and the interaction between humans, systems, and the environment.
Case Study #2: National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC)
The National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) primarily serves genetic counselors in a variety of practice settings, including robust federal, state and media relations advocacy activities. NSGC also provides educational resources for other healthcare providers and patients. With this breadth of audience beyond its members, NSGC wanted to refresh their visual identity, yet ensure the position of the association with other critical, non-member audiences. Through conversations with the board of directors, the association’s marketing and communications workgroup, and internal marketing team – inclusive of the graphic design team – NSGC made the decision to retain their primary logo color and genetic helix iconography. This included an update to refresh the logo, including adding additional colors, updating typography, and softening the overall logo design to communicate a more approachable feel. Along with the updated logo, NSGC also refreshed their overall brand to create consistency among all products and offerings, and ushered in a more contemporary style of design by introducing situational and “in-the-moment” photography in conjunction with design elements that align with the updated logo to better represent the work of the association.
Jennifer Kasowicz, MA
Director, Marketing &
Senior Manager, Marketing
& Communications Services
Manager, Marketing &
Art Director, Marketing &
Creative Director, Marketing &