Monday, July 26, 2010

Marketing Mishaps: Becoming Enamored with Cute Colors and Fonts

Marketing Mishaps: Becoming Enamored with Cute Colors and Fonts

Color Combos That Didn't Work

In order for a logo to work, it has to be eye-catching, and people have to be able to READ it. Seems like a no-brainer, right? And yet, sometimes what should be obvious seems not so obvious to certain business owners.

A friend of mine recently showed me this new brand of chocolate bar. She was excited because she thought it had the coolest wrapper. Ornate? Sure. But the first thing I noticed about it was how hard it was to read. The gold leafing on the label did not share enough contrast with the black background. A quick gander at the company's Web site indicated that they've got labels in a number of different colors, and all of the others are easier to read. But this gold-on-black version should really be junked.

Last campaign season, I met the local guy who was running for reelection to the Phoenix City Council. He and some volunteers were going door-to-door, canvassing for his campaign. The problem, again, was with the color combination. Although I could see from up the street that people were carrying clipboards and knocking on doors, it wasn't until he was literally within a few feet that I could read the T-shirts with his logo. White on light blue, and light blue on green simply didn't provide enough contrast to allow for easy reading at a long distance. When I commented on this, he told me they had just changed the colors from bright blue and purple to this more pastel palette because his campaign manager thought the colors were more appealing.

But there's more to marketing than just appealing colors. If you plan to make any sort of a logo or sign that will be displayed at a distance, make sure you check for good visibility before sending the images off to the printer.

Fonts That Fail

How often do you drive down the street and see a commercial vehicle? All the time, right? Usually there's a logo - or at least the name of the business. The smart ones include a phone number and Web site. But have you ever seen a commercial vehicle and wondered what on earth the business or name of the company was?

Unfortunately, it happens a lot. People seem to think creative is better when it comes to fonts, forgetting that readability trumps creativity every time - particularly when the logo  is zooming past you on a busy highway or byway.

Here are some examples of logos that, while creative and even interesting, are nearly impossible to read.

From a design company called Kuld Muna.

From a lumber store called Mason's Lumber Yard.
This logo for a lawn care company combines the best of hard-to-read font with impossibly contrasting colors for a logo that simply fails on all fronts.

As I've said in the past, marketing specialists have many different ideas of what's most important when it comes to reaching your audience. Mine is this: MAKE IT SIMPLE! Creative colors and fonts are good - as long as they do not detract from your prospective client's ability to understand AT A GLANCE who you are and what you do. If your font is too flowery or your colors too low-contrasty, it might be time to rethink your logo.

This is Day 6 in the 60-Day Content Challenge. See you tomorrow for the next post!


Sign up today for Laura's next workshop, Want to Charge More? Start Writing! Or e-mail your  questions on referrals - or any aspect of marketing - to Laura.

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