Topic: Branding

How To Handle "sub-logos" For Programs

Posted by tkercheval on 250 Points
Our organization has an established set of brand guidelines for the main components of our organizational identity, e.g., our main logo, our colors, our official fonts, etc.

We are an educational organization that also has a wide variety of programs one of our other departments puts together involving different types of leadership and professional development training for our members, and that department has created logos for each of those programs. There must be 5 or 6 different ones.

The problem is, while these programs fall under our organization, their logos and visuals typically don't reflect our organization's branding at all. In fact, each one was created individually, so they don't even hold together cohesively as a set of programs. Each one looks different from the other, with different colors, fonts, etc.

As we work to refine our branding strategy organization-wide, I'd love to find a way to make all of our program logos and visuals be more consistent AND have them all refer to and reflect our overall branding. Others in the organization think this approach is too limiting to the logos' visual "appeal" to have to be restricted in this way, whereas I see the situation as weakening our brand, which should take precedence over the "cool factor" of a logo.

Would love to get some additional feedback/opinions on this. How rigid should we be when developing this type of sub-branding? Should or organization's logo and name be a part of every training program we offer? Are there best practices for something like this to help ensure that "sub-logos" within an organization always look like they're still PART of that organization? Thanks so much for any insight.
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  • Posted by mgoodman on Accepted
    The answer may depend a lot on how widely recognized the various logos are and how highly valued they are by your target audience(s). If they all share a common target audience and benefit promise, then you probably want them to share a common logo in some way.

    From a practical perspective, you might want to have a graphic designer develop end-game logos for each program, and then perhaps one or two transition logos, so everyone can see how a change might unfold.

    If there are different target audiences and benefit promises, then the branding issue may not be worth the time, money and internal strife involved, even though a purist might say a common logo treatment across programs is the preferred way to go.
  • Posted by Jay Hamilton-Roth on Accepted
    Historically, what came first: the various programs (developed ad hoc by others) or your organization? Are the clients of one of your programs likely to be interested in the other programs? Is the goal to unify the logos an academic issue or is there a business motivation to do so? How would the effort to achieve these changes be seen by your donors – as a waste of funds or a smart way to build awareness of your offerings?
  • Posted by tkercheval on Author
    Thanks for the responses. Good info there for sure.

    As far as what came first, it was the organization. Yes, the clients (which in this care are mainly student members of the organization) would likely be interested in more than one of the programs and are frequently involved in more than one. The ultimate goal isn't an academic issue, but born more out of a business/branding motivation to try to get our overall branding more unified and consistent. I come from more of a "creator" background than a marketing one, and while branding is something I've always had some sort of role in, I've never had to really embrace it conceptually until recently, so I'm learning.

    When our members see the logo for one of our programs, I want it to be obvious right away (from a visual perspective) that it's part of our organization as a whole. That's definitely not the case now. We often (in the COMMS department) need to fight just to ensure that at the very least our logo is incorporated somewhere within the overall design. We're currently working to refine our branding strategy, and our unofficial motto at this point governing that effort is "consistency, simplicity and emotion."

    So this is one of those areas I've been looking into related to the "consistency" segment, and I guess my main question for those with more branding-related experience than me is whether this would be a worthwhile effort or if it's too heavy-handed an approach. FYI, if the logos were changed/tweaked, it would most likely be done in-house, so the expense would really be staff time involved vs. hiring an outside contractor to do it.
  • Posted by Jay Hamilton-Roth on Accepted
    Given what you wrote, then definitely follow the course laid out by Michael. It sounds like it's time to get your groups more aligned visually.
  • Posted by mgoodman on Accepted
    You wrote:
    "FYI, if the logos were changed/tweaked, it would most likely be done in-house, so the expense would really be staff time involved vs. hiring an outside contractor to do it."

    My comment:
    Just be sensitive to the internal politics. If everyone knows and trusts the in-house graphic designers, then they are the right ones to use. But if they are perceived to be biased in their creative approach, you may end up with a very disappointed organization. An outside perspective could be worth the fee.

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