Create an identity with legs.

When James W. McLamore and David Edgerton founded Burger King in 1962, they knew they were going to sell a lot of Whoppers in Miami, but they never planned on selling scrambled eggs. Even today after spending a gazillion dollars on advertising, Burger King holds no place in our breakfast imagination. It doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out burgers and eggs do not correlate like champagne and caviar. The same is true for Kentucky Fried Chicken and red meat or Burlington Coat Factory and swimsuits. Yet, executives still choose names and designs that limit their business potential. They may own burgers, chicken or coats, but in the long term, investors want growth and that means marketing managers need to think about the elasticity of their brands.

While names need room to grow, designs require the same long term strategy. The insurance company, CIGNA, overcame its meaningless nomenclature by choosing a tree for its logo. It could then wrap itself around all the symbology of trees (strong roots, a protective canopy, branching leaves, growth buds, even support Arbor Day), whereas AFLAC, an insurer with 40 million customers, uses a quacking duck and stock images of perfectly perfect people to build consumer recognition.

Any design agency worth its salt will help its clients design not just a logo, but an identity system with a bagful of tools that go beyond stationery and brochures. To avoid McBranding (the dilution of intangible assets), companies should consider a large design vocabulary that includes a secondary color palette, a range of original and stock images that supports the company’s design objectives and a voice made up of real words that reflect company values. Applied consistently over time, these images, colors and words, in concert with a company’s name and logo, will create a strong and meaningful organization that has real value in the minds of its constituents. Note: good design equals better revenues. Eureka!

The point is simple. Make sure you choose a name and logo that has depth and breadth to meet the changing needs of any business and build an identity system with a rich vocabulary of secondary images, colors and words. ~

– – – – – – – – –
By David Ray | David was a Senior Consultant at Landor Associates prior to running Marketing Communications at various healthcare start-ups where he was our client.