Lesson 25: Marketing Starts with Logo Standards

The Nike swoosh. The Audi circles. McDonald's golden arches. These iconic logos are recognizable even when the company name isn't visible.

Although it's true that your brand identity is not the same as your logo, your logo is still a large part of that identity, creating the visual impression in your potential customer's mind.

"Your logo is the signature of your company," says Mark Richardson, CR, president of Case Design/Remodeling Inc., which has franchises in about 50 cities with 180 territories. "You wouldn't want to have 80 different ones."

To that end, Case Design/Remodeling hosts Case Culture training, to educate its people about the importance of the brand and to get buy-in from all members of the team.

"We educate our team on the importance of the brand using examples from other industries," says Richardson. Standard guidelines are useless if not everyone is onboard with the concept, he notes.

To increase brand recognition, it's important that a remodeling company uses a logo in a reasonably consistent manner, says David Alpert, president of Continuum Marketing Group.

"If it's a big company that uses its logo in a lot of applications, it should have a booklet of standards of usage," Alpert says.

"If it's a remodeling company with one location that uses different vendors to produce its marketing materials, then one page, containing color standards, size standards and electronic file requirements, is sufficient."

If a logo uses a PMS (Pantone) color, standards should also include the four-color, or CMYK, equivalent. And Alpert advises that logos should always include an EPS, or vector, file so that the logo can be resized for multiple purposes without distortion.

Because a company that buys a Case franchise is buying the reputation of the Case brand, Case has the type of standards in place that Alpert suggested. These include standards for how its logo is used, extending to how to scale it to size, how it can and cannot be used, on what it can and cannot be used — in fact, many marketing materials must be ordered through the corporate office to ensure logo consistency. If a franchisee wants to use the logo in an unusual way or on an unusual item, it must be cleared through the corporate marketing office (which also does spot checks occasionally for correct logo usage).

"They've invested the money in the franchise, so they want to follow the rules," Richardson says.

In fact, franchisees also must use a Case corporate template for its Web site because the brand extension runs through all the ways in which a franchise presents itself.

Whenever a corporate identity is being created, the topic of trademark comes up. A trademark is considered a form of intellectual property that distinguishes your product, service or identity from others, and it legally protects your remodeling company from competitors using a similar name and/or logo.

Your logo is the signature of your company. You don't want to have 80 different ones.

However, it's a lengthy process that costs upward from $1,000 to $1,500 for your lawyer's time. Alpert advises his clients against it unless they're a large firm or doing business in a town with another remodeler using a similar name.

"If you trademark a logo, you can be using it for a year and a half and then suddenly have it challenged," he says.

That's because the trademarking process is this: You must send in three examples of your logo in commercial usage. Once you submit it, your lawyer will do a search for similar names and visual identities and make a recommendation on whether you can move forward. If you can, then the potential trademarked logo gets listed for others to see, and if another trademark holder feels your visual is too similar to theirs, they can stop you from having your logo trademarked.

"We ask our clients if they own a trademark," Alpert says. "If they don't, then we explain the process. Usually they go to their lawyer, and the lawyer suggests they don't because it can open a can of worms."

The goal of all of these issues — having logo standards in place and trademark — is to establish a visual brand identity with which homeowners can connect.

"Brand is what you stand for," Richardson says. "It has all sorts of meaning and connotation for your clients. Having a unified brand is more important than ever [in this economic climate]. Homeowners are risk-adverse and nervous, and our brand and what it stands for is their security blanket.

"Brand is the glue that gets you through hard times and bad."

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