When was the last time you thought about your logo? I bring up this question because I just received a press release about Tamron changing its logo for the first time in 39 years.
It introduced a new design to “present a global perspective while inheriting qualities of the original design.” It went on to say that “the meticulously designed logo embodies Tamron’s recognizable presence as simple and powerful, with renowned reliability and technical prowess.”
All of that in six letters?
Whether the new Tamron logo brings their sales to greater heights is not the point. Rather, they recognized the need to take a look at their core and decided that people’s tastes and fashion sense are certainly different than in 1978—and a new look was consistent with their recently redesigned SP series of lenses.
The ABCs of Logos
Logos are an important but very misunderstood part of the marketing mix. They can say who you are, what you believe in and how you want to be perceived. They cannot predict sales, but they certainly should not be ignored.
I did a quick survey of logos in the photo specialty arena. I observed a wide array of designs and approaches.
Some of you choose to keep your logos because there is a heritage attached to them. “My grandfather opened this store in 1958, and we’re proud to have not changed the logo since then.” This might bring warm, fuzzy feelings to the family, but what does it say about the brand today. Words like “since 1978” are a double-edged sword. They show stability, but they might also telegraph “old thinking.”
Some of you just opt to use your stores’ names without graphic elements. This could be a good thing, especially if there is a strong heritage attached to the name. But be sure to take a look at your typeface. Is it the same one used in 1975? Sometimes a subtle change in typeface, such as what Tamron did, can update your appearance and affect your reputation.
Logos should also reflect where the market is, and where your customers want to be. For example, if your logo still has a roll of 35mm film with it (and there were quite a few!) or graphics of lens elements, your customers might wonder if you’re living in a time warp.
Many of you portray your stores as “photo and video” stores. Does that designation restrict you in today’s market? Is “photo” still a relevant word to today’s millennials and gen Xers? Again, they may be relevant in your market, but when you go online, is that all you want to be?
What about taglines? I’m personally a big fan of using taglines as part of a logo treatment. It’s your opportunity to further define your brand and your offerings. For example, Midwest Photo uses the tagline “Capture Inspire Share.” Those three words instantly position them as more than a hardware store and more of a creative boutique.
Sometimes injecting an interesting visual with your logo can do more than a tagline. Precision Camera uses what seems like a colorful view of a camera’s shutter. I think it is a simple marriage of the past with the future.
If you decide to take the leap and revise your logo, you are locked in for the long haul, so don’t be afraid to invest some time and money in the redesigning of this all-important marketing tool. For example, if you have a very strong brand, you might want to consider how far from the original logo you want to deviate.
During the time I was running marketing at Nikon, the company made the decision to move away from the “We Take the World’s Greatest Pictures” tagline to “At the Heart of the Image.” This was a huge move for the international brand—walking away from their pro heritage. But Nikon understood that the market was changing and they had to expand their base of users. They evolved their logo and tagline at the same time, and it ended up being a brilliant move.
Logos: A Commitment
Your logo can certainly define you for years to come. It will obviously be used in your advertising. And it will also appear on your letterhead, company literature, product packaging and maybe even a few novelty items. Using logos effectively in your advertising and marketing will establish and promote your company image. It needs to be strong and unique, and it needs to appeal to a variety of consumers.
Of course, your brand is much more than your logo. A logo design is not your brand and a new logo can only help reposition your brand. But it won’t do the heavy lifting. Your brand starts with your company ethos and beliefs. Without them, no amount of fancy dressing up will fix underlying issues. But if are doing everything right in your business, then maybe a new visual injection will create a renewed sense of excitement that you, your employees and your customers can all feel good about.