Sunday, April 11, 2010

So just what do you expect your logo to do for you?

I had one of those magic marketing moments that convince you that it is worth it to invest in good design, good marketing efforts, even if you can't tell "which half of your money you are wasting." It took me completely by surprise. Suddenly the months of discussion about our logo, the various versions Gil Shuler presented, and even today's constant policing of our logo's size, color, aspect ratio, etc., etc., was and is all worth it. All of it. All 100% of it. I have to tell you that I thought I was pretty smart about marketing but in a single moment I figured out what we should have aspired to, what we should have wished for during all of those months of work, but which none of us saw (except, perhaps Gil Shuler and our Director of Communications and Marketing Christine Beddia). While the magic moment was a thrill it was also a moment of recognition that most communication efforts fall short of what they should and could be.

Imagine the scene. A committee of volunteers is gathered around a table trying to decide what should be their grant-making strategy in the Southern Lowcountry (Colleton, Hampton, Jasper, and Beaufort Counties). Should they just give to individual organizations or should they look across the entire spectrum of the nonprofit sector and strive to create a stronger community of nonprofit organizations. This is not a trival question. Literally a half a million dollars was distributed last year by this committee and this coming year they will distribute another $500,000, and next year, each year, year after year, as a result of how this group of volunteers resolves this question. Are they simply "writing checks" or are they creating a community?

One of the volunteers reaches down and holds up the agenda for the meeting on which our logo is printed. She says "and what do you think this means?", while pointing to our logo. "Those two people are connected, they are holding hands." She went on, "They care about each other just as we should care about our community. Coastal Community Foundation is about creating that care and helping donors and us create a community of caring people." She ended by saying "We are part of that logo. We are that logo."

Wham! I could feel my mind clear as the rest of my senses went blank. I always thought the logo was an abstraction of the Arthur Ravenel Bridge in Charleston or maybe two people walking on the beach (mother and daugher, father and son...emphasizing the intergenerational "foreverness" of our efforts. I could feel my heart strings tighten. I involuntarily took a breath. There was a wave of realization that swept over me not unlike the pleasant feeling you get when you solve an optical illusion. Our logo works. Not only that, it delivers a message that it has taken Coastal Community Foundation 35 years to justify. It delivered a complicated message that might otherwise have taken another hour of meeting time to clarify.

And she said one more thing. She said "and you know, those people do not have their hand out. They are not begging people for money." She is right. Donors are drawn to us by our work, not by any marketing-inspired fundraising campaign...or am I wrong about that too?

So what do you expect your logo, or any logo for that matter, to do for you? Are you giving the development of your logo enough time and talent?

I can tell you that we are not changing ours any time soon.

1 comment:

barbaraoleary said...

In developing the logo for our equine assited therapy foundation we took alot into consideration. We are a group of volunteers committed to growth through interactions with horses. Parental figures who endeavor to enrich lives.I think our logo shows this.