The Image GroupThe Image Group

By Adam Norman

What’s In a Font?

There are literally thousands of different fonts, or type styles, that can be used to develop your logo, but care must be taken in choosing a font that represents the tenor and goals of your business correctly. Your logo is often the first impression prospects and clients get of your business, and set the tone for how they perceive you.

Fonts create visual connections in the brain and elicit emotions in the viewers mind. Fonts can present your organization as forward thinking, established, vintage, high tech, and more.

Here are some different font categories and the image they can present:

  • Serif fonts (letters with those little tips on the ends) are considered traditional, respectable, reliable and comforting. Sony, UBS Financial, and Time magazine express a traditional look with use of serif fonts.
  • San Serif fonts present a clean, modern look, representing simplicity and forward thinking. Google, Nike, Microsoft utilize the simplicity of san serif fonts.
  • Script fonts represent elegance, creativity and affection. Cadillac, Coca-Cola, and Ford portray their image through the use of script fonts.
  • Display fonts portray a look of whimsy, unique expression and creativity and personalization. Eddie Bauer, Disney, and Lego have iconic logos thanks to the use of display fonts.

In addition to the font choice, weight, spacing, capitalization, and size can also affect the outcome of the logo.

When choosing a font for your logo think about the tone you want to set with the viewer. As they say…first impressions last a lifetime. Make your impression last, and create a strong return for your business.

By Adam Norman

Be Iconic – How An Icon Can Build Your Brand Recognition

Using icons and symbols as a part of your logo brand identity can pay significant dividends in building brand awareness – but, only if the icon is visually catchy and is expressive of your values and beliefs. Icons create a simple visual memory tag that connects your business to particular emotions, perceptions and values.

Icons can also be positioned as “hidden messages” within a logo design. Amazon uses a smile to connect the letters A and Z in their name, implying that they offering everything from A to Z. The smile symbol serves to promote the happiness their customers feel after interacting with them. FedEx has a hidden arrow incorporated into the E and X of their logo, symbolizing speed and forward thinking. These hidden icons, while often not realized by the viewer, create visual cues that connect the business to a feeling or action the business wants to promote.

Many successful businesses have used icons to represent their brands – for some the icon itself becomes bigger and more popular than the logo or name. When you see the Swoosh you automatically think of Nike, which connects you to feelings of health, wellness, quality, fashion, forward thinking and more. A simple silhouette of an apple with a bite taken out makes brings thoughts of innovation, simplicity, and the quality of Apple products. The Golden Arches can bring thoughts of hunger, flavor, satisfaction, and speed. Or, if your recent experience at McDonald’s was not up to expectations the visual cue of the Golden Arches may bring feelings of disappointment, incompetence, poor quality or lack of taste. Icons can provide powerful brand building ability – but, if you don’t back up the image with the quality, service and other attributes your clients look for in your business – the icon can work against you, quickly generating negative feelings towards your company.

Whether you choose to incorporate an icon into your brand or just use a logo, the brand identity you build will only be successful if you are consistent with your brand usage. Do not deviate from your logo colors, fonts and layout. If done correctly, an icon can be a powerful way to visually convey your value proposition and beliefs in a short and concise way.

By Adam Norman

10 Things Only A Marketer Will Tell You

QUESTION: Is advertising expensive?
ANSWER: Only when it doesn’t work.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the years, it’s that most companies take criticism of their marketing initiatives personally. People know what they like and, as it turns out, they really like their own creativity. Badmouthing someone’s marketing materials is akin to disparaging a person’s kids.

Truth is, there are right ways and wrong ways to do marketing. But knowing how sensitive humans are to negative feedback, most advisors are reluctant to offer constructive criticism. But marketers are different. Marketing people tend to be results oriented, and we’re likely to be blunt when telling you what will and won’t generate the results you’re seeking.

So, with that in mind, here are 10 Things Only A Marketer Will Tell You.

10. You don’t have enough followers to make social media worth your time. Marketing and social media are made for each other. If you’re not targeting customers through social media, you’re missing a fast and continuously growing advertising audience. But the effort required to develop a constant supply of fresh and relevant content will pay small dividends when you only have a couple dozen followers on Facebook or Twitter. For that reason, whenever customers ask us to help them engage people via social media posts, we suggest they first strive to build a larger follower base.

9. Get over the “call to action.” One school of marketing thought argues that every advertisement should include a call to action. Without directives to “visit our website” or “schedule your free demonstration today,” that line of reasoning asks, what are we hoping to gain from placing ads? Well, before you get too pushy with your audience, consider how the largest advertisers spend their marketing budgets. For example, flip through the first twenty or so pages in your favorite fashion magazine and see how many calls to action you can find among the elegant high-priced ads. Undoubtedly, there’s few if any. Instead, you’re likely to see a beautifully photographed model, posing in a coveted lifestyle environment, with the advertiser’s name as the only text. You see, marketing is intended to establish emotional connections with consumers. Indeed, you’ll make more emotional connections with concepts than you will with commands.

8. Your spokesperson has stopped being effective (and your mascot is creepy). If you could convince Taylor Swift to pitch your products to today’s teenaged females, you’d probably be hard-pressed to find a better way to use your marketing dollars. But it’s likely that Ms. Swift’s sway over teenagers will diminish somewhat with each passing decade. Why, then, do some companies insist on using the same product spokesperson forever? Spokespeople should come with an expiration date (talk about expiring: KFC recently revived its deceased colonel in its ads – what?). While it’s true that older adults respond well to celebrity endorsements, clinging too long to one spokesperson makes your brand appear stale, and increases the risk of being linked to any unpleasant publicity associated with the spokesperson. Oh, and unless you’re selling cereal to young children, please give your mascot a rest.

7. That jingle is really annoying. There are only two reasons for having a marketing jingle: one is brilliant and the other is inane. First, if you are selling consumer goods in a marketplace crowded with similar products, a rhyming jingle can help you build name recognition. Remembering the lyrics, “The best part of wakin’ up is Folgers in your cup,” comes in handy for buyers facing three-dozen brands in the coffee isle. But the secret is in the rhyme, so you can achieve the same effect with a tagline (“Don’t get mad! Get Glad!). The other reason to feature a jingle is to give your television and radio ads a low-budget, unprofessional feel. And that’s just silly.

6. We’ve all seen that stock photo before. Look, most of us can ill afford to hire the likes of an Annie Leibovitz to shoot photos for our collateral. Fortunately for us, sites such as and make high-resolution photos available at relatively inexpensive prices. Stock photo sites have thousands of options from which to choose, so why use the same photo everyone else is using? That wholesome family of four, smiling at the camera and wearing 1990s clothing, makes for a nice image until the exact picture pops up in another company’s ad. Spending time playing with each photo sites’ advanced search features helps locate images that are especially well suited for your needs, while improving the odds that your stock photos will appear unique.

5. You don’t write as well as you might think. Our in-house copywriter made us include this one. You know the type: keeps a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition, of course) next to his keyboard. As a matter of fact, good writing is critical to good marketing. It’s important to know the difference between there, their, and they’re, when to spell out a number in words, and whether or not to use a serial comma (obviously, we prefer it). Poor writing can negatively influence the perception of your marketing materials, as well as the perception of your company overall. Granted, most people never notice that something is written well. However, many people do notice when it’s written poorly. So, please, appease our copywriter by paying closer attention to this detail.

4. Your inexpensive neighbor the “designer” is a hack. Everyone, it seems, knows an up-and-coming or soon-to-graduate graphics designer. Not surprisingly, all those budding designers are less expensive than the experienced professionals agencies employ. If you want to provide portfolio-building opportunities for your cousin’s kid, we applaud your bigheartedness. If you simply want to save a few bucks, you deserve the quality you get. (DISCLAIMER: We’re a little biased on this point.)

3. The worst time to reduce advertising spend is when business is slow. Henry Ford is credited with saying, “Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.” Ford’s point is that advertising stimulates revenues; therefore, trimming your advertising budget in down business cycles practically guarantees your company a decrease in sales. We can see how you might consider this advice self-serving on our part. But, in reality, advertising when others are cutting back portrays your company as stronger and more stable than your competitors – something consumers value in tough economic times. Not to mention you can get some great deals on media buys.

2. You’re blowing a marketing opportunity on your packaging. If you’ve ever purchased an Apple product, you probably noticed the company’s beautiful packaging. It’s no wonder our creative department’s closet contains iMac boxes we can’t bring ourselves to discard. As in Apple’s case, a product’s packaging speaks volumes about the company that sells it. And if done correctly, packaging gives customers the opportunity to speak back to you. For instance, a QR Code on a box makes it easy for buyers to click through to your website and complete a satisfaction survey; while there, they can sign up for your newsletter. Before you know it, your clients are actively engaged with you. Packaging provides valuable real estate that reaches the best demographic you can get: people who have already done business with you.

1. You know what you like. But we know what actually works. We once asked a larger advertising agency how they deal with clients who second-guess their creative work. The answer was straightforward: “We tell them it doesn’t matter whether they like or dislike our concepts. All that matters is that they work.” You might not particularly like the color combination we recommend for your logo redesign; but the psychological science and reproductive practicality behind the colors should outweigh your personal preferences. Maybe you favor websites with limited homepage scrolling; but if we tell you scrolling gets people to linger on the page longer (in other words, engage with your site), perhaps you should trust our experience. Bottom line is we do this for a living, and our goal is to deliver marketing ideas that generate results. And we know you ultimately want the same.

By Adam Norman

Top 10 Ways To Tick Off A Graphic Designer

Generally speaking, graphic designers tend to possess a certain amount of artistic temperament – an anguished intensity inherent in many creative geniuses. In other words, they’re largely an irritable lot and it doesn’t take much to set them off. That said, here are ten things you can do to get on their bad side.

  1. Supply “vector artwork” that isn’t really vector artwork. When you ask designers to incorporate existing art into new graphics, they will probably ask that you provide a vector version of the art. Simply put, vector is an artwork format that allows designers to resize illustrations without affecting image quality. If you don’t know if the art you have is vector (helpful tip: MS Word documents are not vector), just say so. You might pay more for your design, but you’ll know up front if that’s the case.
  1. Request endless, senseless revisions. “This looks great in our corporate colors, which is exactly what I requested. But now I wonder what it would look like in grayscale. Oh, and can you use a friendlier font? And just make the whole thing a sixteenth of an inch smaller?” Look, creativity involves a lot of trial and error. Designers get that. But your perfectionist tendencies should not generate infinite work for us.
  1. Decide, after countless revisions, that our original design is your favorite after all. Hey, it’s your money. And by that we mean we’re charging for each revision whether you used it or not.
  1. Provide contradicting directions. “We want the design to really pop, without drawing too much attention.” Clean but without any white space. Modern with a retro look. Can you do that? Maybe, but maybe not.
  1. Ask us to “match the font” you saw somewhere. The website offers over 28,000 downloadable fonts, which means the odds of us finding your exact font are at least one in 28,000. Fonts, it turns out, are a critical component of the overall design ­– which is what you hired us to create. Let us surprise you.
  1. Be Adobe. Most designers have a love-hate relationship with Adobe. Clearly, its tools have long been designers’ preferred choices for transforming their creative ideas into usable content. But the company seems intent on turning current customers into former ones with such bonehead moves as its Creative Cloud all-or-nothing pricing model. With the list of alternative platforms growing daily, Adobe should be courting clients – not alienating them.
  1. We’re skipping #4, because we feel duty-bound to repeat #10. We just can’t stress that one enough.
  1. Share criticism from your family and friends with us. So your brother-in-law took a Photoshop class in high school and has some ideas on how to improve our work? No problem. Everybody’s a critic. Just remember that you hired us for our professional knowledge. What’s really important is that our designs work (i.e., generate sales, create top-of-mind awareness) the ways you want them to. Amateur opinions should be treated as such.
  1. Create physical harm with your color scheme. Some colors contrast so fiercely that using them together literally hurts your eyes. Here’s another area where you should rely on your designer’s professional expertise, lest you inadvertently inflict visual pain.
  1. Suggest we work for “exposure” rather than money. We appreciate that being associated with your brand will boost our careers to unforeseen heights, but right now we have rent to pay. So we’ll take cash, thank you. And if you’re lucky, when we’re in famously high demand, we’ll consider making time to work for you again.
What’s In a Font?
Be Iconic – How An Icon Can Build Your Brand Recognition
Coloring Your Brand
10 Things Only A Marketer Will Tell You
Top 10 Ways To Tick Off A Graphic Designer