Here’s an example of when it is appropriate to change your logo: I wanted to create a logo for the Fair that was a play on fiber and folk, and so I choose the iconic folk art piece Grant Wood’s American Gothic to use as inspiration for a tongue-in-cheek representation. I created all the artwork myself, using a gothic arch as the shape and including a barn, and the “famous” couple. In my case the farmer was from an old cabinet card photo (it was drawn, in vector format) of my great, great uncle, Martin Hurney, circa 1900. The wife was another cabinet card from an earlier era (late 1800’s) of an unknown ancestor with a cool hairdo. They represented “folk”. I dressed them in garb very similar to the painting. I put a sheep (a Blue Leicester) between the two with his “arms” around their shoulders and a distaff in front (instead of the pitchfork) and that brought in the “fiber”. It got some good reviews. However, it was pointed out to me that the Art Institute of Chicago owns the copyright for American Gothic and the painting was celebrating its 100th anniversary, and so receiving more-than-usual attention. I was warned that in using such a piece as a logo without permission, I was risking a lawsuit for copyright infringement – even though I used none of the original piece in my logo. I looked up the law on that, found out it is a $250,000 fine and decided that discretion is the better part of valor (and I don’t have $250,000) and changed my logo. So, this all goes to prove that there are compelling exceptions to every rule!
So, on to develop a new logo! After the first event I created the perfect slogan for the Fair, “Come Celebrate the Work of Our Hands”. Perfect, because that is what the Fair is all about, from market to workshops to art show to demonstrations – the work of our hands. I choose to use the slogan as inspiration for the logo, rather than “fiber and folk”.
Let’s talk a bit about slogans. Wikipedia suggests an effective slogan:
- states the main benefits of the product or brand for the potential user or buyer
- implies a distinction be between it and other firms’ products – of course, within the usual legal constraints
- makes a simple, direct, concise, crisp, and apt statement
- is often witty
- adopts a distinct “personality” of its own
- gives a credible impression of a brand or product
- makes the consumer feel “good”
- makes the consumer feel a desire or need
- is hard to forget – it adheres to one’s memory (whether one likes it or not), especially if it is accompanied by mnemonic devices, such as jingles, ditties, pictures or film
I chose to use my slogan as my logo. You don’t have to do this, or include your slogan in your logo, but in my case, it made sense. A slogan is not as necessary to your business as your logo, but if you are in a business with a lot of competitors, consider developing one – it will set you apart. You may not come up with your slogan until you’ve been in business for a while, as I did. I had to do the first Fair and experience it before I was inspired. If you have your logo done and later come up with a slogan you want to add to it, unless you have a compelling reason to change your logo, try to keep it the same and add the slogan to it.
I chose the hands to be the visual. I have always been fascinated by hands. I used to watch my grandmother’s hands as they created their magic – soothing hurts, tenderly touching, or working on some project. The Hands I use are open hands that are not palm up, as if asking for money, but palm down – busy hands. Hands that are working. The attitude of the hands is suggested by the placement of the thumbs – if they had been palm up, the thumbs would be to the outside – try it yourself and see.
I wanted the hands joined together in a circle. I like circles – they symbolize infinity, unity, strength, and suggest the longevity of fiber arts. Fibers, after all, were one of the first tools, perhaps the first tool, that man made. They have been around a very long, long time. They suggest the interconnectedness of fiber arts. One of the building blocks of the Fair is that most of us don’t do just one fiber art – we do six! They are also hands joined together in a ring of celebration. And last, the attitude of the hands also suggests “Ta da!” These particular hands are doing a LOT of symbollic work in this logo!
The colors of the hands symbolize several things: it suggests the diversity of people: age, gender, race, nationality. It also suggests the different fiber arts and folk arts represented at the Fair. Since the colors have different values, I can convert them to grayscale (black in various concentrations) and still show that diversity.
The slogan sits above the hands and is a part of the logo itself.
Last comes the name of my business/event. I had developed this part of the logo with the first “fiber and folk” version of my logo (see first paragraph) and kept it the same to provide continuity. The font is “immortal” a font I liked because it is elegant and you don’t see it often. It also has, to me, a folksy kind of look and the round, openness of the lower case letters suggests openness and Midwestern values. I replaced the “o” in folk with an image of a heart done in rosmaling, a folk painting technique done in Scandinavia. I know it is rosmaling because I painted it myself originally, and converted it to a drawing. I have used this logotype font and heart in a logo for my website url as well – it provides continuity. I put the type in the center of the circle, so it is the hub that attracts all of the diverse people and fiber arts. Most people do not consciously think of all of that when they see the logo. It is bright, cheerful, and appealing. However, those I have asked to comment on the logo, once they study it, do respond pretty consistently with most of the above. So, it works!
To recap – your logo is a unique trademark for your business that symbolizes what you are about and can also portray your company slogan and/or values. It should be simple in design, done in a vector format, convert easily from color to black & white, and be easy to recognize. It is one of the hardest working assets of your business!