A logo can say a lot about your brand or business. That is why it helps to bring in an expert on that to tell us how we can create one of our own. Graphic and web designer and business consultant David Pyke shares some vital steps that you can take to make branding work for you. As David lays down the importance of fonts and typefaces on a brand’s impact to potential clients, he also points out why understanding the target audience and their conscious decision is a vital part of the design. Learn more about branding and creating a logo in this episode ad David gets down on the entire design structure, the importance of finding the right designer for the job, and the three must-have components of a strong logo.
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Create A Great Logo And More with David Pyke
I am super thrilled and excited because I have as my special guest, the amazing David Pyke. For over 30 years, David has been a graphic designer as well as a web designer and business consultant. Before that David was an adjunct professor at Daytona State College in Daytona Beach, Florida. Some of his clients have included Comcast, Time Warner Cable, HBO, World Wrestling Entertainment, Kentucky Fried Chicken and more. If you want to learn more about David, you can simply go to Tafgraphics.com and learn about the incredible work that he does. He does my design work in terms of the images that you often see. We’re going to get right into this whole thing about branding, logos and designs. David, how are you doing?
Gerry, thanks for having me. I’m happy to be here.
It is my honor to have you here my friend. This topic is important to me, David, because many people when they think about branding as you know, they immediately think about the visual face of the brand. The logo, graphic images, aesthetics. As you and I both know, a brand is more than a logo. Share with us what some of your thoughts are around this whole thing called the look, the feel of the brand in terms of how that ties in with this whole thing about creating a world-class big brand.
As you well know, people make arguments based solely on your logo, your typeface or the color of the font. You hand someone a business card, they’re like, “You’re the person I need to talk to,” or “It doesn’t look so good to me.” What you’re trying to do is actually creating a perception when you create a logo and when you create graphics. What’s the perception you want your audience to see? Who is your target? What do they want to see? A logo is not your brand. A brand is the culture behind what you do. The logo is just a quick representation of what that is.
How do fonts work into this whole thing? For a lot of people when they think about logos and any kind of design, they think about fonts and color. What can you share about that?
Fonts are fascinating. When I got into graphic design back the late ‘80s, there was a couple of thousand fonts and now there are tens of thousands of typefaces. Typefaces play a very important role. As you know, when we look at a typeface, we have a feeling about it. For example, if you’re an attorney, it’s a very strong character in the type of letters it is because it creates that importance. Where if it’s an adventure, amusement park or just a fun thing, there are swoopy lines and swash stuff creating a feeling. The font is a strong part of the feeling that you get when you look at a logo or a typeface. It creates an inner feeling about it. When we work with clients, the font is as important as the colors that they use.
What are the steps that someone should take? Let’s say you’ve got a small business owner, they want to put together their brand, they do the strategic work with me, and then we feed that off to someone like you. How does that whole process work? For a lot of these owners and others that are out there, they’re putting the cart before the horse. They don’t know what to do and they think, “I’ve got a brand because I’ve got a logo.”
It is understanding what their business is. What did they do? Who is their audience? Who do they want to capture? Is it a family motel that caters to families on vacation going to the beach? Is it a restaurant that serves barbecue? Is it an attorney’s office that deals with the injury clients? It’s very important that we understand exactly who that client is they’re trying to reach. For example, I have a client and he has a financial services company out of Toronto. He’s only been around a couple of years. He says, “I need to create an image that’s strong for financial security.” I said, “You need to sound like you’re 200-years-old.” Because you do. You want somebody with integrity. You want someone who’s been around and established. He can absolutely do what he says he does but the impression he was making wasn’t there. We looked at colors, fonts and shapes. We looked at things that make you feel smart, intelligent and wise beyond your years.
We started looking at names that have to do with financials, like Rothchild, Rockefeller, Essex, Franklin or some of these pretty strong financial style names. We went through a list of them and we picked out a couple. The names we picked out was Essex and Franklin. I think names like that work together. “How does Essex Franklin Financial sound?” What we did is we needed an icon. We took the horse from the chest set. We used a beautiful icon and we used the colors of silver, black and a hint of gold that rarely speak to that client of money. We have Essex Franklin Financial and they’ve got a beautiful icon and a beautiful website. When he goes out and he speaks to a client, “Who are you?” He goes, “I’m with Essex Franklin,” and slaps that car down from the table. The guy goes, “What can I do for you?” He gains instant credibility. He gives that client the impression that he’s a guy who can help them with their services and it’s a match made in heaven. Whatever the client has or what they do, whether cybersecurity or a dentist, we want to marry the image of what people have on those people with the image they have in print.
That is so great because one of the things that caught me, you said it’s about the impression that you want to make. Talk about that a little bit more because I don’t think a lot of owners, I don’t care if they’re solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, mom and pops, MLMs, contractors, whatever kind of small business it is. I don’t think they understand that the first thing they have to determine is what impression do you want to make? What do you want to convey through your look? Can you talk more about that?
The color and font, all that adds to it and they’re making a decision very quickly when you show someone your business card, you show someone a flyer, you take them to your website, they’re making a conscious decision right away whether they’re going to work with you or not. It’s almost like dating. They look at that information. Does it ring true with what they know about your subject? If I know something about family restaurants, I go to a website and it doesn’t jive with me what a family restaurant would be, then I’m not going to go there even though it may be the best restaurant suited for my family or a doctor’s practice. For example, you want a family dentist and you go to his website and his business cards, using brown tones, greens and some weird organic thing. That’s not what we think of dentists. We think of sterile and we think of the tools that they use. We think of science. We think of cleanliness. We’re going to use silvers, whites and it’s going to be very crisp and clean because that’s the impression that we have in our minds of that subject matter. We’ve got to relate to who our client is through the use of graphic design.
That gets into something that you told me about, which are designed structures. There are a lot of intricacies when it comes into what you do. What is this thing called design structures and what’s the importance of that?
Creating Brand Logos: Marry the image of what people have on you with the image they have in print.
Design structures basically are shapes and how things are laid out. How we visually see things on a page. As everybody knows, you pick up a newspaper and you read left to right. That’s how the eye moves. You notice the headline isn’t at the very top of the page. It’s what’s called the optical center because if you look at my eyes, it’s here and there’s stuff up above. It’s the same thing that happens when we pick up a flyer, we pick up some information. Those are those design shapes where we place information. It tells us a story because as we move our eyes down the page, we’re telling that story. We want to make it easy. A lot of times we’ll go to a website and there is stuff here and here. Our minds are confused in which way to go. We’re offered too many choices, so it creates confusion. When we design something and you know all about this, we’re telling a story. We tell that story from left to right, going down the page and we want to make sure that we communicate the message we want to give. They hear it loud and clear so they know what we’re about and that we’re the right fit for them.
I liked that because I think so many owners are overlooking something as important as that. They’re thinking, “Let’s just do a logo,” “I like blue,” “You like purple. Let’s come up with something that captures our favorite colors.” Doesn’t that drive you nuts when someone comes to you and says, “Can I show you what I’ve sketched?” What do you think about that?
“Can you move this over here a little bit?” “I think it would look better if it’s in the middle, don’t you?” No. “Pink is my favorite color. I know we’re in a motor shop and we deal with motorcars and engines, but pink would look so good on this.” No, it wouldn’t because it doesn’t relate to who you’re talking to. It’s not about you or me. It’s about your audience. We’re creating a visual picture. We’re telling a story. It’s what they want. It’s not about us, what we like. “Can we put a little flower? My little nine-year-old just loves flowers.” No, we’re not doing that. You’re selling car parts. We’re not doing flower shop. If it was a flower shop, that’d be one thing. Stick with your audience and keep that in mind. Who is it that you want to offer your services to?
That’s about being relatable. That’s about making sure you’re making the kind of connection that you want to make with your audience. You’ve got to be clear on exactly what matters, what’s most important to your audience so that when they see your image and whatever those images maybe they’re like, “Whoa.” Are there certain rules that people should follow when it comes to working with someone like you? This is what the logo should definitely do and don’t do. Are there do’s and don’ts in this arena?
The most important thing you do when you’re looking for a designer or someone who’s going to help you is to ask them to see their portfolio. What have they done? Who have they worked with? Make sure you see some of their artwork because you don’t know if they just got out of art school or they’ve got a 30-year design background. Have they designed anything for people in your industry? For example, you do have an automotive shop and you sell a lot of tires and maintenance for vehicles. Have they done any ads for mufflers? Do they understand the industry? Do they understand what that is? If they don’t, there’s no way they’re going to be able to communicate to your audience what that is. We do a lot of stuff for a lot of different companies and you do too. It’s fun for people like us because we can get to understand and dive into those people’s businesses.
The first step is to look at their portfolio. Look at what they’ve done and then what results have they got from that work and how many clients? Do their clients keep coming back? A lot of the clients that we have at Tafgraphics we’ve had for ten, fifteen years and they keep coming back because we keep providing results and we understand that. The other thing is to make sure they’re willing to take a deep dive into your business. What’s your about? Make sure they’re asking you questions about your business and not just saying, “We’ll give you the cheapest price.” Cheapest price a lot of times means cheap with no return on your investment. The other thing what you do, Gerry, and what I do is people are investing in us to help them along the path because we want to give them a return. We want to make sure that working with us is going to be great for them and great for us too. It’s a real partnership. Take the time and talk to that designer and see what their experience is.
That owner has to also realize to your point that, “Your genius is not my genius,” and vice versa. They’ll interact with you coming from, “I think I have an idea of what’s best in terms of the aesthetics, my look, and feel.”
You’re absolutely right. They have to know. Sometimes we have to tell a client, “The reason it’s not working is because of X. We’ve got to strip down and we’ve got to maybe start from scratch.” There’s a little story about a guy who was a golfer and he shoots 80 and he wants to do better. He says, “I’ve worked on my swing and I’ve done all this stuff.” He goes to a real pro. The pro says, “I’ve seen your swing and you just got to throw it out and we’ve got to start over again,” because you’ll never get better. It’s like taking someone who has a business and a brand, it’s not going over with their audience, “I know your brother-in-law designed it and that’s all well and good, but throw it away. Let’s do a new version. Let’s remake yourself.” Oprah Winfrey remade herself five different times. She didn’t made herself over. That’s what I would like businesses to do every couple of years. Some in a strong way, but some in a small way. Make something fresh, new content, image and color, and a whole new way for people to look at you. A lot of people look at your stuff and if it gets stale for them, they’re not catching the eye. If you do something new and something fun that’s in line with what your customer wants, and then you can create more business for yourself.
There’s always room for reimagining, reengineering, retooling and revamping. Amp it up. Do some rebranding. When you were saying that, I was thinking about FedEx. Remember Federal Express and the name become FedEx and then the whole logo development of how they were treating the E, X in their logo. Do you know about that? Can you talk about that?
It was Federal Express all spelled out, then they shortened it up to FedEx and they put a little arrow in the FedEx logo because they’re moving. It’s a subliminal thing. They had to adjust the font and the spacing to make that happen. It created a great little visual aid that people got it and they knew right away FedEx is the only way to go.
I think there’s a different color for FedEx ground versus FedEx office to signify the differences. This is good because you’re getting into the subtleties of what it takes to truly stand out and get noticed. You put something out there that people are going to get excited about. If you had to answer the question, what are the three must-have components of a strong logo? For most people, it’s all about their logo. What do you want to say to our audience about that?
It’s simple. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, not a lot of detail. It’s got to look good huge but it’s got to look good small. Icons have been in for the last fifteen years. If you can take that logo and make it a strong identifier. When you see that thing, whether it’s a little windmill design or whatever it is, people identify it with you. Whether you’re Coca-Cola, the wave. They’ve had that over 100 years. People get it. Pepsi changed their little circle things. It’s the same colors, but a little different wave in it. Simple is most important. You can reproduce it in black and white as well as color. That’s important and it has to be memorable. Don’t be afraid to try several variations. You and I have gone through several processes with our clients and taken a logo or an idea.
Creating Brand Logos: A logo doesn’t have to be extravagant. It just has to look good and be a strong identifier.
I usually start with three general concepts that are very far apart from each other and they pick the one that they like or identify. We break it down. We do modifications, different versions to get it right. Rarely do we ever hit a home run on the first try, but we want to do some testing with some people that we know, people who might buy our product or service and say, “What do you think of this?” Don’t give them any clues. Just ask them and see what they think. It’s got to relate to what you do. It’s got to have a quick identifier so people in the industry says, “You’re an expert and you’re a pro.” What I like to call it has to have a perceived national brand. It’s got to look like it’s established and been around a while. People will tell you, “I’ve heard of them.” They haven’t. We designed that but it looks like it.
To piggyback on that, it also has to convey a commanding brain. You don’t want something that looks like it was done on a desktop. Back in the day when you would do things on your kitchen table, you want something that looks like it’s professional that some thought was put into it. It wasn’t something that you said brother-in-law do, but someone came up with a six-figure, seven-figure billion-dollar world-class, big brand look so that you can stand out even more, be memorable and get noticed. I’m glad you talked about sizing because it’s got to be scalable. You’ve got to be able to build it up or tone it down.
The design process says a lot to it. We talk about JPEGs, PNG files, PDFs and EPS. What does all that mean? I’ve been trying to tell people for years what that means. Realistically, a JPEG and a PNG file are basically the same except for PNG has a transparent background. Those types of file formats are specifically for digital. We have what’s called EPS, which stands for Encapsulated PostScript. If we want to go back, postscript was the language that Adobe developed to create high-resolution graphics in their laser printers. A pixel information is a little square that’s colored and says Pixel 1.1 is this color, the next pixel is this color. When they see 300×300 resolution, a matrix of 300×300 at an inch square gives a resolution. EPS or Encapsulated PostScript and what PDFs do so well, they say, “I want a line from point A to point B. Calculate a mathematical formula and make me that line.” If it’s a vector or EPS image, we can scale it as big as a house and it will still look great. Most line drawings and graphics that you see for logos, they’re using those vector or EPS styles that were made popular by the Adobe Corporation using their product called Adobe Illustrator. Anything like that, you want an EPS file because you do want it big. If you’re going to hang that sign on the side of your building, you better have an EPS file so they can make sure it’s nice, crisp and clean.
I told everyone “This guy is a true expert and authority on this.” He gets into the intricacy. David, this whole thing about professional design perception. What is that about and what’s the importance of that?
If you’re a famous chain like McDonald’s or Burger King, these are professional outfits. People know them and they have a certain look and feel. If you’re opening a restaurant, don’t make it exactly like McDonald’s, but takes up a few things from them. Clean menu, the way it works, the image that people have because whatever you have, they’re relating it to something they already know. If you’re the local grocer, but they’re also going to a Safeway, Publix, Kroger or one of those name brand places. If you look like the same quality that they have, that’s the perception that you’re right up there with them. If I have an insurance business, I do health insurance and I’m a little company, I’m looking at Blue Cross Blue Shield and all these other companies that have clean logos. I want mine to be the same style because mentally they’re comparing mine to them. If I look like I’m on an equal playing with a national person, but under your local help, then you’re giving your customer the best of both worlds because you’re local, but you look like you have an established business. You do what you can say you can do and you have that national perceived impression that you’re giving, which everybody wants.
No one wants something that looks cheap, desktop, clip art. Remember clip art back in the day?
These big-time books. These books were huge. Every month they would come out with tons of clip art and you have to cut them out and go into the darkroom. Thank God we don’t have to do that anymore.
One thing I’ve always wanted to ask a graphic design authority like you because this has come up on my end. People will come up to me and go, “Gerry, do you think I should go to a graphic designer or should I go on the internet and go to 99Designs.com or somewhere overseas? They can do it cheaper and then they’ll do all these different looks for me and then I can have my friends and people in my network vote.” Let me go on record, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with 99Designs.com, but I want to hear from you. What are your thoughts about this overseas competition that you have?
It’s a big deal because there are some of those guys who do some good work, no doubt about it. The fact is they don’t understand your business. They’re not sitting next to you and they’re not in your neighborhood. They’re not going to your establishment or they’re not finding out exactly what you do and how you do it. There’s no doubt that some of the artwork is good, but is the artwork specifically tailored to you? I think it’s important that you’ve got to have a budget for design. This is all about marketing and all about the money because big companies spend up to 30% of their budgets on marketing, advertising and design, but they get it to come back to them.
If you’re a small firm and you’re looking for design, I would seek out a couple of graphic designers in your area, have an interview. You don’t have to hire them on the spot. See what they’re doing, see what kind of work they do, see what kind of chemistry you have with the person. We’ve had people that we’ve entertained to see if we were wanting to work with them and some people we just didn’t feel comfortable working with them as the designer to the customer. Sometimes it happens. You need that relationship because it’s an ongoing thing. You’re going to get into print materials. You want your graphic designer to know the printer and be able to work with how he needs the files. You might need something turned around quickly. There might be a show and you need a trade show booth and your Fiverr guy in India can’t do that. As a matter of fact, my wife did a trade show booth for the country of Slovakia and we turnaround for less than five days because it was for a big medical show in Washington DC. They had heard about us and this is for the whole country. They said, “Can you please do this?” We’re like, “Sure we can do it.”
What I’m getting from you is you are going to take the time to understand that client, their business, what’s best for them, giving them something that is highly customized, not cookie-cutter, not one size fits all, not rinse and repeat, plug and play. None of that craziness. More importantly, you’re going to come up with something that’s going to razzle-dazzle that audience, which allows them to be seen, be heard, and then get paid. You mentioned print. What are your thoughts about print versus digital because that’s a big trend?
It is a big trend but print is still a viable option for many people depending upon their business. We do all these online campaigns, but there’s nothing wrong with a good postcard campaign. If you have a flower shop in your neighborhood, you want people to come out. Those types of things are great. Making sure you’ve got things that people can take with them, whether it’s a business card, a little short brochure or flyer. Those are great tools because it stands in front of them. I know someone who designs coffee mugs and all these other things as giveaways. Those are great print items because you’ll have that coffee mug in your cupboard for a long time ago. “I haven’t been in that flower shop in a long time.” Because you’re drinking your coffee and you see it. Print is a great way to go.
Creating Brand Logos: If people ask for the business card, give it, but if they’re not interested, don’t waste your time.
The key thing about print is if you’re going to do print, have a conversation with the printer and find out exactly how they want the file. That’s the most important thing. As we talked about JPEGs, PDFs and EPS, there are certain file formats because you want your image on your print media, whether it’s a flyer or brochure, frisbee or whatever it is to look its best. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen flyers and the pictures are all pixelated. That’s because of resolution issues. Make sure if you’re going to do print and I suggest for people to talk to their local printer, they can use your business, they’re more accommodating. There’s nothing a printer loves more than talk about print. Go down there. Grab a cup of coffee with them. “How can I set my file for print?” They will just ooze all over you and give you the best print job you’ve ever seen.
People still want a business card. I know that digital, you’ve got these mobile digital, virtual business cards that are starting to emerge. What are your thoughts on that?
They’re okay. A convention I was at, there was a gentleman there who did digital business cards and it was great because you have it on your phone. You can do it like that and it’s a great thing to have. I’m also a proponent of having a physical business card too. Having both of those is good. If you can have it on your phone, that’s something we can do as well. I’m all a proponent of having the card. If we could take a moment to talk about business cards because this is huge. Everybody is a networker. Everybody goes to these network events and all these meetings. “Here’s my card.” What do you do? “Thanks for your card.” There it goes and it never goes anywhere. Have a conversation. If they asked for the card, give it, but if they’re not interested, don’t waste your time. If you give it, present it to them. Over in Asia, when you present a card, this is a golden ticket to me. My time is valuable to me. Yours is very valuable to you. I know how hard you work with the clients that you have, Gerry. It’s incredible. It’s a valuable tool. Don’t just give it away because you want to give it to people who need it or people you resonate with. That’s a gift from me to you, so you’ll know I meant it when I did that.
You hit the nail on the head when you said it’s all about making the right impression. That first impression is a lasting impression. I know it’s a cliché. What’s that expression? A thousand words, a million words.
A picture is worth a thousand words.
That still holds true and making sure there are no typos because a typo can cost you a fortune.
I’ve got a story for you. I was at Daytona Beach. A friend of mine had worked at an ad agency in town. We were at the annual ad convention in town. They won the award for the worst ad. It was a trial lawyer who went to courtroom and did all this stuff and said, “They flipped the A and the I around, so it was Trail Lawyer at yellow pages.” It’s not like you can take it back. They had the back page in the yellow pages. If you do have a typo, here’s how you get out of it. If you have a meeting and say, “I saw a typo.” It’s like, “You win a prize. You are the first person to find our typo. You win 50% off your next purchase with us.”
What a fountain of wisdom and knowledge when it comes to design. Everyone, I have seen David Pyke’s portfolio and his wife, Tracy. The breadth and depth of their work is astounding. You can learn more about David and the work that he does by going to my website at GerryFosterBranding.com. You’ll discover how to connect with David if you wish. David, thank you so much for being here. You are awesome. Thank you, everyone, for being here as well. Stay tuned to further future Big Brand Formula podcast because I will be bringing the very best of the best when it comes to these guest interviews. Until next time, take care.
About David Pyke
My name is David Pyke and I’m a corporate brander, graphic designer, website designer, package designer, video/motion designer, technologist, and Imagineer. I was an Adjunct Professor at Daytona State College for 20 years while working at the same time for a National Ad Agency for 14 years.
I am a self-development specialist. Branding 360° is how we create and connect the vast resources that attract themselves to us as we serve companies with their visual needs. Tracy and I have a combined 40+ years of experience and being a part of a mastermind that moves your company forward is what we do best.
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