Branding: who needs a logo when you wear glasses?

How seriously do you take branding for your business? OK, if you’re Coca Cola or Kellogg’s it’s very, very serious and you don’t have a choice. But for those of us running rather, er, smaller enterprises, do you realise that branding is just as important?

Now, those of you who know me personally know that I don’t do fancy, but I do branding, sort of, for my meagre writing business. Here, therefore, is the “living logo” that has been working very hard for me for the last six years:

Suzan St Maur's glasses

Who do you think of when you see a woman with a mop of short, blonde hair and big black glasses? And don’t you dare say “Maxine...” I don’t do hats. LOL.

Why a pair of glasses for branding, when I’m a writer?

Here’s my individual case study, based not on clever-clever sh*t but a simple visual mnemonic or “living logo,” if you like (or at least a three-dimensional one!)

And like many things that have turned out to be amazing, it was all by accident. Getting older, as I was, I found out that I was both near-sighted and long-sighted all at the same time, with a bit of an astigmatism thrown in for good luck.

small spectacles

Having a large head and fat face, I chose these guys (see main pic) as all the “ladies'” designs were too small and made me look like John Lennon‘s grandmother.

Hence the industrial-strength frames, and after enduring compliments like “borrowed your Dad’s glasses, did you?” and “those are almost big enough to cover up some of your chins” people began to recognise me by the beige hair and the big, dark peepers.

A few representations…

Suze St Maur
Suzan St Maur
Suzan St Maur
Get your book written and published - without the scams

….and so-on.

Other visual mnemonics that make great logos, and great branding

In my neck of the woods in England there is a wonderful financial advisor of a certain age who goes to all networking and other meetings wearing a smart suit and in winter, a lovely felt Fedora hat. In summer he trades that for a crisp Panama job.

In true gentlemanly fashion he removes his hat and carries it once indoors, and always make sure to place it where it can be admired. He tells stories about his hats; the upcoming funeral for his old faithful Panama that’s on its last legs, or how someone’s cat peed on the Fedora.
man's hat

Needless to say, whenever you see a man in a hat at a business meeting, you automatically think of him. Even in the unlikely event that it is isn’t him. Brilliant.

The brightest shirts in Europe

Another great guy in our region is known for his wild, exotic shirt designs and brightly coloured suits. He a keen networker, business advisor and philantropist who knows everyone in our city and a fair few other cities nearby. Suzan St Maur

He loves nothing better than to find the loudest, most outrageous patterns and colours and shock us all with his latest purchases, and roars with fake dismay if another guy turns up at a meeting wearing a shirt that’s anything other than plain white.

So what’s the branding theory behind a pair of glasses, a hat or a shirt like a Mexican salad?

This may sound a bit woo-woo or schmaltzy, but for me the glasses send out a message to people that they will find me creative and helpful, with my eyes open to them and their needs — and focused closely on how I can help them. “I see you and I look keenly into your heart, so I will learn what you want and need. Good, clear eyesight = good, clear insight.”

The smartly dressed man in a hat is showing distinction and old-fashioned courtesy as well as huge respect for others. He is saying “You can count on me to advise you well: not only do I have a lot of experience, but also I am human and understand that you are too, so I know how to apply my skills and experience right first time.”

The guy in the crazy shirts is opening himself up to be approached by others, attracting their attention and friendship rather as a peacock does. He is saying “look at me, I’m here for you; you will always know where to find me and how I can help you.”

Should we incorporate these visual mnemonics into our two-dimensional logos and branding material?

I’m beginning to work towards that, with the name and branding for my new publishing imprint … watch this space.glasses as logoWhat better way to reinforce our message and our brand values, than to use a mnemonic that says it all to our customers and colleagues?

Business today – large or small – is much more about human relationships

All too often we either overlook branding altogether or even worse (some would disagree over which is worse, but here’s my take) we get a 12-year-old neighbour or someone who fools around on Canva to come up with a visual branding that does about as much for our business as a pile of dog poop.

No matter how small your business, it’s your branding first and foremost that expresses not merely what you think you are about, not merely what other people will recognise about you and what you stand for, but also how they can get to know, like and trust you.

That means the most important element of your brand actually is not your logo in isolation, but your “why” that the logo expresses.

Kelloggs logoAnd whether your logo is a pair of glasses or the Kelloggs rooster, it should suggest “your why” more than anything else. (NB: Kelloggs – cheerful early morning rooster/cockerel crowing, although if one those woke me up every day I’d probably strangle it. Cornflakes are much nicer.) 

What if you don’t have a visual mnemonic to incorporate into your branding?

Visual mnemomics aren’t necessarily that hard to find

You may be thinking that it’s all fine and dandy for those of us who do have visual mnemonics or “living logos,” but what about people who don’t?

Think beyond “the box” and look at physical representations of your why.
Although you won’t be able to carry a physical object around with you, necessarily, you can get your designer to incorporate it two-dimensionally into your logo across print and digital marketing comms material. 
**If you’re fond of dogs and customer loyalty is important to you, a graphic image of a dog suggests unswerving loyalty and faith
**If your business is about young children, an image of a peacefully sleeping teddy bear reinforces your message (and you can carry one with you)
**If you’re a gardener, use and show a perfect bloom – the result of your why (not a logo based on someone using a lawn mower which implies hard work)
**If you’re a coach, show an award – maybe a gold cup – implying the result of what you do, not just what you do

Your branding designer should be able to help you develop these concepts further.

What visual mnemonic would you choose to represent your brand?

Please share!

To branding design expert Trudie Avery, whose brilliant and entertaining presentation recently inspired me to write this article

Main image – “moi”
Mugshot of me #1Kathryn Hardman Photography
Mugshot of me #2Kate Everall Photography
Mugshot of me #3Roxanne Bergmann, RoxPix Photography
Mugshot of me #4 – Kate Everall Photography
All others – Creative Commons copyright free