AMiable Solution #240: First Impressions
I pulled up behind a white van at a stoplight today and had to take a second look at something on the back. There was a round, black circle where I expected a door handle to be. It wasn’t the device that caught my attention. It was the wording on the device: SUCK LOCKS. My first thought was, “What a horrible name!” A second, more careful look revealed the item’s true name: SLICK LOCKS. “What terrible product design,” I thought.
But after I got back to my computer and found myself looking up “Slick Locks,” I wasn’t so sure. I did, after all, feel compelled to know more.
A quick visit to the company’s website revealed two different design versions of the “Slick Locks” name. The version I saw--all capital letters in a sans serif font--appears on a product called a Weather Shield, a cover designed to protect another Slick Locks product, a puck-shaped lock designed to provide the “highest level of vehicle security possible” from dust, road grime, salt, and snow. The name on the puck lock itself appears as “SLiCK LOCKS,” with a lower-case “i” and in a rounder font.
Did the designers realize that their straight-lined font choice, all upper cases, and tight kerning would cause this confusion? It’s hard to say.
What’s not hard to say is that layout and font choices do more than create memorable images. They also create split-second impressions. If I hadn’t had time to re-read the name on that lock cover, I would have stuck with my initial thought: the product was poorly named, and I didn’t need to know more. I would have never looked the company up. But because I did have time to re-evaluate, I changed my tune.
Does your logo make the right impression the first time? If it’s been the same for years and years, you might assume it is. Don’t.
As marketing strategies and products and opportunities change, so does the appearance of your company name and logo. What may have originally been designed for stationary and other paper objects may not translate as well as you’d expect on 3D objects. It may not be as recognizable or readable at 300% or 10% of its original size.
Take inventory of everywhere and every way your logo is used. Give it a glance. Show it to others. Make sure your images and your messages are clear. If there’s any issue or even a chance of an issue, brainstorm ways to fix it. The solution could be a simple color, font, or spacing change. Afraid making any change will make your brand unrecognizable? Fear not. As long as you don’t make many drastic changes, your market will still see you.