I have worked with graphic designer/artist Jack Hernandez for almost a decade on creative projects, both professional and personal. Jack has nearly 15 years of professional graphic design experience and for the last ten years has worked with local governments at a nonprofit DC lobby association. Recently, he and his partners established their own identity as Icolithic Studio. Jack enjoyed our biggest personal brainstorming session late last year and asked if he could share his professional process here on GovLoop.
Overall, branding is one of the most important steps to establishing an identity in the public eye, whether you’re McDonald’s or the local government. Your logo, tagline, and other identifiable marks are what set you apart from others and provide consistency of service and information.
A few months ago, friend and colleague Emily Landsman asked me to help her with her new start-up — a media LLC focusing on social media and new communications for local governments. The first step was to come up with a name and logo, then to quickly create an online presence. Appropriately, we took advantage of Web-base media to communicate and discuss ideas. After a lightning brainstorming session on Skype, online searches to confirm that a name hadn’t been taken, a few silly ideas, some word mashing, boring acronyms, and a couple of really good ideas (that were taken), we finally found the perfect name. Red Boot Media was established.
The name of a company is just as important (if not more) to the owner as it is to customers. A name should be related in some degree to the owner’s experiences, professionally and personally. A business is not just another “Media Company” or “Organic Bakery.” Having a personal connection to your company’s name fortifies the sense of ownership and fosters pride.
In developing Red Boot Media, LLC, we considered several names. The name had to be creative but still convey professionalism — not silly or too cute, but not boring. Acronyms…bleh. We liked “Lilypad,” but it sounded too much like a preschool educational show. Thinking about some of Emily’s personal traits, I recalled one of her trademarks…her red cowboy boots. Lightbulb! She was very receptive to the name. It was original (Red Hat is totally unrelated), and the name invited several visual options for a logo design.
You may not know your clients on a personal level, but encourage them to talk to you about their personal interests and how they feel about the goals of their business. Make your discussions creative and draw them into the process. Doing so will not only help establish the best identity — you will develop a better business relationship with your client.
The second part of this post (next week) will focus on the logo design and how the new landscape of social media and apps plays an important part in the process.
Have you considered logo and identity as a part of your agency’s or government’s brand?
Great piece, Emily (and Jack). Logos are such an important aspect of any organization, yet I feel they are often also the least understood and undervalued. It’s such a nuanced art, yet has enormous impact on your organization’s public perception, and therefore overall success. While I don’t think a poor logo is going to make or break a government agency or city the same way it will a private business, I do believe a solid, aesthetically pleasing logo can offer a significant boost in the public’s interest, perception, and willingness to engage with a government on any level.
Also, just came across this interesting article on Good.is recently about whether or not a typeface could help a city make a comeback: http://www.good.is/post/can-a-font-help-a-city-make-a-comeback/
I agree, a great logo is essential in building a strong brand! Just look at Starbucks, Target, Facebook, and Yelp.