Keeping it Clean and Simple
(Gillette, Wyo.) The Energy Capital Economic Development Enterprise Center was a buzz of activity on Tuesday, as local business owner Mark Christensen spoke during the monthly Lunch & Learn.
This month, the topic was all about modern branding. Being the owner of several startup companies and brands here in Gillette, including Outliers Creative, LLC, and County 17, Christensen presented the importance of good branding practices to well over a dozen people in attendance.
When it comes to a brand’s logo, design, and the materials used to create it, simplicity generally trumps complexity.
Small changes are fine for a brands logo, but changes that make a brand unrecognizable — such as what occurred with brands like Best Western, Gap, and MasterCard—should generally be avoided.
“The only company that’s really been successful with a change in logo is Google, and Google doesn’t change the logo, they just change the header every day,” Christensen explained. “But, they’ve got enough brand recognition to pull it off.”
With the Outliers Creative logo, “OC”, Christensen has developed a caricature, which vaguely resembles a person. With this caricature, both he and his staff are able to add in small, subtle differences that make each caricature unique depending on the staff member — cowboy hats, skater designs, glasses, etc.
“But, we really don’t adjust it that much, because then the brand gets off point,” said Christensen.
Bad logos utilize things like gradients in their color palettes, Christensen said
“When you’re doing your logo, you have to think through how it’s going to be used everywhere,” he explained. As an example of a good logo, Christensen presented the Polo logo, the tiny man holding a mallet while riding a horse.
“It is always the same, everywhere,” he said. No matter how it is used, stitched or printed, the logo remains the same.
Christensen’s staff put together all of the pamphlets and other marketing items for ECED, and it exemplified everything that he spoke of.
“This look for Energy Capital is exactly the same on every single piece that we’ve done, and Phil (Christopherson) has done a really good job at mimicking it, going forward,” he said.
Christopherson, CEO of ECED, closely adheres to the photo style, font sets, and column layout in all of the ECED documents. A good layout is important when designing a brand’s documents.
“When you’re doing layout, always work within the same color palette,” said Christensen. Split the general layout of a page into thirds, fifths, or sevenths—the odd elements are pleasing to the eye and gives the layout the proper spacing.
He said that he usually struggles to get the simplicity concept across to his advertisers, who generally try to cram as much content as possible into a space that they are paying for.
“The biggest rule we all violate, we always try to put the most on it,” Christensen said. “We want two starbursts and two paragraphs of text and we want something in 800 different colors.”
But when one looks at large, successful ad campaigns for companies such as Lexus, they are relatively simple with minimal text.
“So, the one I always tell everybody, is to look at the brands that really know what they’re doing,” said Christensen. “You don’t see a fortune 500 filling up their brands with a ton of junk.”
Lunch & Learn
Christensen spoke for nearly an hour and addressed other topics including cohesiveness, brand identity, building value, strategy, among other things. But above everything, he said that, if the listeners took nothing else away from the presentation, they should strive to remember that consistency is the key. At every point of contact with a brand, the customer should get the same feeling and story at every point of contact.
Lunch & Learn events are hosted once a month in the ECED Enterprise Center and provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs, professionals, and community members to learn from local experts. They also provide a welcome atmosphere to network within, share ideas, expertise, insights and partnerships.
Anyone interested in hosting or attending an upcoming monthly Lunch & Learn event should contact Doni at doni@EnergyCapitalED.com or (307) 686-2603.