Logos are all around us. It’s hard to believe that just a few hundred years ago, you wouldn’t have really seen many of them.
Branding as we understand it today, is a fairly recent development in human societies. It’s hard for us to imagine, since we could probably rail off at least 10 logos off the tops of our heads without much effort.
Financial logos are hugely influential. They affect our decision-making as consumers and potential business partners. They convey a company’s values, carrying rich meaning to their target audiences.
That said, what is the purpose of a financial logo? Why do large businesses such as Lloyds, Halifax and others invest so much time, effort and money in designing one?
As an IFA or financial firm, it’s vital to understand this before attempting to develop a new brand identity. So let’s look at it in more detail.
What Are Financial Logos For?
Think of financial logos as visual focal points for different brands in your industry. How can you easily tell them apart, at first glance? Their logo.
So an important purpose of financial logos is to identify. This might seem trivial, but it’s actually crucial.
Think about it. Normal life would fall apart if we couldn’t identify one another. Imagine getting your wife mixed up with another woman, or your kids with someone else’s!
Identity is also importance when identifying different financial brands. It enables your target audience and client base to tell your company apart from your competitors.
Certainly, the style of your logo may change over time, and so might the meaning and perception of your financial logo. However, its fundamental purpose stays constant: to identify you and distinguish your brand from the other IFAs and financial firms out there.
What are the implications of this? Perhaps the most important thing is to discern the environment that your financial logo will be seen in.
In particular, who are your competitors and what do they look like? What symbols, colours and styles do they use? What can you do so your financial logo stands out from everyone else’s, without looking wild or out of place?
Financial Logo Design As A Strategic Tool
Logos are visual objects, but that doesn’t mean that financial logo design is simply an art.
For instance, a logo designer’s job isn’t to design something pretty for your business. It isn’t meant to be observed and appreciated for its own sake.
Its primary purpose should not be to serve your personal tastes or preferences. (This is something financial firms often misunderstand). Rather, financial logos need to be seen as strategic business tools.
This tool allows your company to be identified amongst the myriad of brands out there, jostling for your prospects’ attention.
That doesn’t mean financial logos can’t look good. However, aesthetics need to come second to the strategic purpose of identifying your brand.
Hidden Meanings Are Not Necessary
It’s important to realise that from day one, a new logo actually means very little to the people who see it for the first time. As Michael-Beirut argues, it’s an empty vessel.
However, over time meaning will certainly be added to your financial logo. This will happen as you actively market your business, and as your clients and prospects interact with your brand.
Why Financial Logos Matter
#1 They Are The Face of Your Business
If you close your eyes and imagine a business, what do you see? Nike. Apple. Mars. MacDonald’s.
Chances are your mind instantly drifts to their logo. Just as when you think of a family member or friend, you tend to think of their face, you think of the company’s face too (i.e. their logo).
The analogy can be taken further, however. When you think of these people, you also tend to recall associations, memories and experiences that you affiliate with them.
The same occurs with financial brands and logos. The work of financial marketing, creative branding and PR with an agency such as CreativeAdviser, is to make those associations, memories and experiences of your brand as positive and powerful as possible.
#2 They Enable Brand Recognition
One important purpose of a financial logo is to enable easy memorability.
So many logos are too complicated or obscure, making it difficult for people to recall what they look like. This then hurts their brand and marketing, because it undermines the trust and relationships you are trying to build amongst your target market.
#3 They Influence Decision-Making
From our very first waking breath, our brains begin to catalogue various shapes, colours and imagery from the world around us.
Within this visual library our minds construct, different emotions, memories and meanings are attached to these various experiences. (Side-note: If you’ve seen the Disney-Pixar movie, Inside Out, you’ll know what I mean!).
So when we look at financial logos, our minds instantly attach meanings, emotions and connotations to them, whether we want to or not.
We might look at the logo in question and think: “This is too expensive for me”. Or, you might look at it and think: “This feels safe and approachable.”
What we’re getting at there is the concept of representation. It’s vital that a financial logo accurately represents the character and nature of your brand, whilst attracting the right crowd.
If financial logos attract the wrong audience, or do not accurately represent the brand values, then things can quickly go wrong for financial companies. People soon begin to smell a fake, and distrust you.
#4 Creating A Powerful Initial Impression
If you’ve ever done online dating, you’ll know how important first impressions are. Rightly or wrongly, we judge people and brands within seconds, based on how they look (at first, anyway).
For financial brands to compete effectively, therefore, you need to look “attractive.” You’re not looking for a mate, for sure. But you are looking for business, for prospects to buy from you.
Think of the effort and expense that goes into a date. The food. The concert ticket. The train fare. The nice clothes and shoes. The perfume. All of it adds up.
Yet we justify the cost to make a good first impression. With financial branding, the same applies. Or at least, it should apply.
It still surprises us how financial firms often want to “go the cheap route” by working with low-cost, amateur, off-the-shelf designers.
The thinking goes: “I’ll save money this way.” And we understand this (who doesn’t want to keep costs down). However, as the saying goes: “Few things are more costly than cheap design.”