The Logo Effect

by Jay Katz

Marketing is an obvious key component to driving business. You remember growing up and seeing that big golden/yellow letter “M” in the distance while in your parent’s car? How about that swoosh on a pair of shoes? Red bullseye? A chewed off Apple? A purple bell? A rainbow peacock? A bunny head with a bowtie? Or maybe in more recent years that blue bird or a talking lizard? You get the idea here, but here’s the thing. Without mentioning one product, you thought of each one just by the description of it. The mere mention of a backwards letter R will immediately trigger off the thought of a particular place you visited at least once in your lifetime. This is marketing working on the consumer to the point of not even having to explain or have a title underneath its logo/symbol to explain away what and who they are. Amazing stuff to actually get to this point, it’s not easy at all. Many mitigating factors go into the process of a marketing campaign to arrive at this point, but we won’t get into the details without having to attend a college course for 2 or 4 years. We have a bit of a limited time here, and we want everyone to stay awake.












As mentioned above, the same works for the comic book industries. A non-comic collector/reader could recognize a logo when they see it. Ask your 80-year-old grandmother what that bat symbol is, and she’ll probably not hesitate and say ‘the zoo.’ I’m just kidding of course. She’ll recognize that logo right away and give you a look like, are you serious? Comic book logos are just as important as the actual character themselves. Look around you the next time you visit a clothing store – whether it’s a high-end store or a discount store. There are so many t-shirts, pajamas, underwear, hats, shorts, socks and whatever other clothing items you can imagine, with just a symbol on it. That’s it. No explanation as to who or what ‘it’ is. Why is that? Well, there is no reason to explain. You know what that Red and yellow letter S stands for. It’s embedded within our cerebral cortex.

Here is a fun exercise to try at home. It’s quite amusing to listen to the various outtakes of generations when it comes to asking about certain comic book logos too. Show your older aunt/uncle/grandmother/grandfather/dad/mom, non-comic book collector/ reader the symbol of the red/yellow S and ask them to tell you who and what. The immediate obvious answer will be Superman. That’s not the fun part. The fun part comes when they answer George Reeves or I Love Lucy. The non-culturized comic fan will immediately visit that area and thought process. Show them the Bat symbol and get an Adam West reference or a campy talking point of a character that runs around with a little kid and fights crime. Not only will this be a fun engaging time with your family member(s) or elderly friends, it will be a history listen as well for you. Get rich history from a non-comic fan and how they see (saw) things from yesteryear. After they provide their information, you can then present them with the modern day culture. Try and not cover the Superman mullet era though, that would be very offensive to everyone involved. Once you’ve received your FREE history lesson (awesome sauce), go to the youngsters. Get their take on the symbols. Nine out of ten will know what that lightning bolt brings to the table. Speed. And speed will be the answers from your ten-year-old son, niece or nephew. Asking a little girl (or boy!) a few years ago what the double W letters were and they might not have an answer for you. Nowadays, well my ten-year-old son thinks that Wonder Woman is the coolest thing ever. He loved the movie and the marketing campaign that involves the WW logo….well it’s a success, to say the least.

Logos/symbols have changed dramatically over the years for several reasons. One, the logo gets stale and needs an update. Two, the logo needs to grow with the growth of its character. Three, the logo needs a modernized feel/look. Of course, there are more reasons, but a long dissertation right now is not necessary. Here’s the thing about a logo, if the logo/symbol is changed, 99% of the time it stays true to its form, thus not ‘abandoning’ its roots or fan base. Sometimes a dramatic change is necessary, in the sense that the logo is so drastically different. This can means one of two things. One, the company is losing money and needs to rebrand. Two, the company simply wants to rebrand, which is a very high risk

with an already established logo/symbol (brand). Risk is sometimes necessary. It gives one a stronger sense of the marketing landscape. More college credits here I won’t get into, but risk is rewarding in so many ways. Factors of your particular marketplace come into play when risk is involved. Don’t be afraid, leap. It’s healthy.

As said earlier, there is so much that goes into a successful marketing campaign that compels the logo/symbol to take a life on its own. It’s the logo/symbol that defines the product. It’s the first eye entry. If a person can name a super hero just by looking at a spider, yes something is right, and someone is making lots of money somewhere. Some of the processes involve character recognition, a powerful and relatable story; a connection with a character, stimulation visually and so much more it’s absurd. Again a college course we won’t get into here, but you get the idea.
Remember the next time your creative juices are flowing what you need for your hero, antagonist, role players, etc. One main ingredient you will need within your scope is that logo/symbol that pops. Your primary goal should be a logo/symbol, not only a fan would recognize, but that regular joe schmo will immediately identify with it. When THIS happens, congratulations, you’re in the big leagues.

Make sure to try out the trivia quiz we provide you each week. This week you’ll have to identify the logo with its hero/villain. Good luck!

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Jay Katz
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