Let's get logo my friends!! That was supposed to be like "let's get loco" only I said "logo", get it? Man, tough room. Maybe I should go back and re-read the first part of Branding on getting too cute ;) Do as I say, not as I do, right?
Well, what I said to do was carefully select your name, and now that you've overcome that hurdle, it's time to visualize that name into a logo! You'll need an image that represents your company on everything from business cards to shirts to web pages and maybe even a tattoo!! Seriously, anyone tattoos our logo on them, they get a free cake and that's a challenge! But if you're more traditional like say, letterhead traditional, then choosing your logo is as important as choosing your name.
Remember our "iconic simplicity" theory from "Branding: Part 1?" It might go double for logos, even triple. Take for example the golden arches of McDonald's. In any language, you know what that is and what awaits you behind the door. I don't even have to describe it to you, you can see it in your head. Mercedes Benz, it's in your head. Apple, it's in your head. Pepsi, it's in your head. Even Starbucks has altered their logo recently to remove "Starbucks" because their mermaid has become so recognizable! That is success!
I'm not saying you can control how iconic your logo will become, let's not pretend we're gonna develop the infamous lips design of The Rolling Stones, but you can certainly take steps to avoid some common pitfalls.
To Clip Is Not Art!
Let's not beat around the bush, Rule #1: avoid clip art!!! I just did a simple search for "wedding cake clip art" and within a a few minutes found multiple people using the same generic cake clip art in their logo. You are turning me into an ad for Google people! If it's free and it's clip art, someone is already using it! Find a friend, find a relative, do a trade with a local artist or an art student, but get something that is yours, not yours and mine and ours.
A Clip Art Tale of Woe: Soon we will elaborate here on our first shop, the now defunct Michele Pastry Cafe, but that is a long story filled with lessons for us all and will have to wait. But there is a lesson in clip art to share. When we were looking to brand the new shop, we worked with a young graphic designer who took our color scheme and came back to us with with a cute little cake logo with a butterfly in a soft blue palette, I even thought she snuck in an "R" for Reva on the side. However, about a year after we closed Michele, an artist friend of mine saw it and said "oh, I just saw that on a new clip art program I got." Sure enough, a higher end clip art program was offering that butterfly. Now, I will give it to our "designer" that at least she didn't use some freebie from the web, but still, we were lead to believe she created this just for us when all she did was cut and paste and send us a bill. Anyone could've had that logo.
The Hummingbird and The Cupcake
That's why when we were gearing up for Season 3 of "Amazing Wedding Cakes," we had this logo created:
We are beyond fortunate to have such a wonderful friend in artist C.J. Metzger. She took Reva's whimsical sensibilities and meshed them with her own vision to come up with our little hummingbird trying to get a sugar buzz off a buttercream rose. You fly that fast you need some sweets don't ya? It's simple, it's original, it has the ability to portray what we do even without words. It's kind of funny too, since we're not really a cupcake place (we rarely do them), but for the scale of the bird and the simplicity factor, that is the direction we went.
And now it is everywhere! We make buttons and shirts and business cards and headers for websites and on and on and on and all with the peace of mind that C.J. gave us something truly original and with the potential to become iconic.
Whether you have a friend or colleague willing to work on the cheap to create your logo or you need to hire someone, it's important to open up the communication. C.J. is a friend, so it was easy to work together. She gave us 4 pencil sketches to chose from before she painted up the piece. Yes, our logo is actually an original painting as well that hangs in our living room! Get options. Don't just accept the first thing down the pipe if you're not in love. If the design isn't working out, ask what other ideas they have.
One thing you want to make sure to tell your artist is to limit the colors used. When it comes time to print, if you have a dozen colors, it can get pricey. Since ours is a painting, to recreate it in full and faithful color would require a 15 color process!! For a shirt with that screen print. we'd have to charge like $40. Whoops! So we have to have it slightly altered digitally to mute some of the colors and bring it down to a more manageable number. Darn that cute hummingbird!
When it comes time to receive your artwork, don't forget to ask for it in a number of different file formats. You should be getting a JPG, a GIF, a PNG, and a PDF at least. As you maneuver through different printers etc., they will use different formats, so be prepared for every occasion; have a low res and high res version available.
Putting the Font in Fondant?
Let's discuss your type of type! Let's face it, our industry is all about frills and curves and lace and delicate imagery. From scroll work to Lambeth piping, the ability to work in intricate patterns is what can really separate the beginners from the pros. However, the exact opposite can be said for your choice of font!!
My drawers are littered with old business cards in which we went with some pretty script font with a fancy name like "porcelaine" or "renaissance." All of these cards have one thing in common, they're impossible to read! Script fonts look pretty and all, but the smaller the writing gets, the thinner the lines are and therefore, harder to read. If someone can't read your name or title or phone number or, *gasp*, your company name, you're in trouble. Always give it the business card test. This will be your smallest form of marketing, giving out thousands in a single year, so you have to be able to read it at that scale. It needs to be bold and clear, save the fancy script for invitations to your grand opening!
I'm staring at a box right now that has "Lowe's" on the side. (It's filled with styrofoam cake dummies if you must know.) They're probably 2.5 inch letters and I could read this box from 100 yards easy. Think about Starbucks or Target and how big and blocky they are. I'm not saying you can't find a more "artsy" font to use, but if it won't let you raise it's size to 72 pts. or higher in your word processor, it's probably not a good idea! Research fonts (not just the ones in the pull down tab in your word processor!), there are thousands and thousands, and pick something that is a good medium for your style sensibilities and the need for it to be legible.
When I was pinning up note cards to the board with "Shop Talk" ideas, it was this logo from 4 Goodness Cakes in Texas that inspired me to break up the "Branding" card into multiple parts, giving logos there own entry. A great example of simplicity and brand recognition, the first thing I notice is the color palette. We are guilty of this more than most, but the cake world is filled with pinks and light blues and browns to the point of being cliche. Here we get a nice blue and green combination, a little more masculine or perhaps "powerful" is a better word. You also get that oversized "4" which to me, is reminiscent of your local news channel's logo, something we are familiar with and that instills a level of comfort. The cake shape tells you all you need to know and the type is bold and easy to read. All in all, when I saw this, I thought it was an excellent logo, easy to print up on shirts and merchandise and I can see it hanging on a sign or the side of a van.
Another logo that struck Reva's eye recently was this cute one from Ruth Rickey. Her exact words were, "it's Ruth!" Crafting your brand in your image can be a real homerun, like this one. It is cute and puts a face on a company that also bears her name. And notice the limited color palette on both of these? Easy to print! How about the font? Bold and readable! I love it when my genius is backed up by other people's genius;)
Pay Later or Pay Now!!
If you cannot afford or find an avenue to get your perfect logo right away, then by all means don't toss money at a temporary fix! No, clip art is not the answer, but if all you can do is grab a line art cake and type over the top of it in an online photo editor, then save your cash now for something better down the line. You don't want to have to change your logo in 2 years because you couldn't get what you wanted in the first place. It's an important step for sure, but patience will pay off in the long run if you're tight in the bank account.
Alright, that's all I've got on branding for today! Tune in next week for more Shop Talk when we discuss... something! I really don't know what yet, I haven't decided, but you know me, I'll blabber on for 2000 words without fail;) Have a great week everyone!!!