What’s your style?

It’s a question we are always surprised to hear when responding to a marketing need in a company. “So if we work with you…what is your style?”

This question can only be answered in two ways. If there is a clear identity present, there is no need to reinvent the weel and we fit any new creation into that identity. If there is no identity, we should consider one appealing to your target group and then fit all future creations in that identity framework. Whatever style we should have is not relevant and if we should impose our own style on your company we would be in the wrong business.

Although the matter seems straightforward, on a day-to-day basis we find it is a challenging equilibrium between the appeal to the target group, the expression of some intrinsic values of the company and the personal preferences of the owner (or the marketing professional, the husband/wife, the mother-in-law,…). Let’s consider these in detail.

  1. Appeal to the target group

Take the time to analyse brands that appeal to your target groups and the way they present themselves. You will notice two trends. First of all, for lots of high-end products you’ll notice the use of a lightweight serif or ‘English script’ kind of typo being used and/or the combination of words/names with an ampersand such as e.g. Kilgour, French & Stanbury or Fosbury & Sons. It gives personality to the brand and it loads it with a sense of tradition even if it is a brand new company. High-street brands will often use a heavier non-serif typo. Desigual and SuperDry are good examples. A second aspect is the level of imagination required by the consumer. Don’t be tempted to ask to much interpretation by the consumer. You can try it for a premium brand but for high-street brands you should follow the principle “what you see is what you get”.

2. Intrinsic values

Don’t try to put to much info in a logo. It’s a classic that you’ll see all sorts of meanings in your logo, but you can be pretty sure that your client won’t. However, put some consideration in the styling and the choice of typo in trying to match your values with your identity. Some common sense will get you pretty far. To put it simply, if you feel your brand differentiates itself by its transparency and its modernism then don’t go for a heavy retro look.

Make your logo future-proof and don’t focus to much on a visual of a specific product. Today you can be the market leader in the printing world, but tomorrow you can be the reference in printing services and integration.

3. Preferences of the owner

This is the difficult one. Every person has its own set of preferences with regard to styling, design, colours etc. The challenge is to marry the preferences of the client (which often requires a fair bit of probing) with the functional needs of the design. It’s never an easy thing and truth be said, as a marketing professional you sometimes need to accept these constraints imposed by your client or you will not sell. In the end if the owner is part of the embodiment of the brand and he needs to stick his logo on his jacket, he should at least feel comfortable wearing it.

Should you want to learn more on the topic of styling, you’ll be happy reading any good book on corporate identity or follow a good stream on identities to reflect on new trends.