Thursday, September 8, 2016

Branding: Do You Have A Logo?

My first logo

This is the second post in my series on Marketing.

1. Marketing 101: Part 1 - Questions.
2. Branding: Do you Have a Logo?
3. Is Your Business Card Working?
4. The Brochure
5. The Press Kit
6. Cohesion: Why Does It Matter?
7. Conclusion

I learned to write cursive in the third grade. I loved it. I watched as the elegant letters I'd always seen my mother make, come flowing out of my pen.

Words and how we use them have always fascinated me. Writing words and letters in interesting ways has been a passion of mine since I was little.

I am an unabashed logophile.

I started playing with different ways to express my initials somewhere around fourth grade, and within weeks of graduating from college, I put together the logo you see at the top of the post.

I put that logo on everything. I included a little graphic of it under my name when I applied for showcases or grants. For many years it was on everything I sent to anyone.

Now, some of you who have known me for a long time are staring at that thing and saying, "If you used this everywhere, how come I've never seen it?"

This brings up a good question. Do itinerate performers actually need a logo?

This short article by a company that generates logos doesn't think so.

"...ask yourself, do I really need a logo for my business?
Here’s how to tell…
Think about what a logo’s primary job is: to help customers distinguish between products on a shelf, or to tell one service apart from a competitors. For example, take a look at this glass of cola. Can you tell what kind it is?"

The image is a glass of brown liquid with ice. There is no way to tell what it is unless it had a logo.

So, I thought I'd go that way. A few images.

Who made this cap?

Who made this cap?

 What is in these bowls?

Is one of these pairs of shoes a knockoff? Maybe.

Obviously, branding matters when you have a shelf full of similar or possibly the exact same something, and you are trying to distinguish what is what.

Advertisers also use logos in order to subtly influence our brains for preferential treatment. They spend years telling us that their brand is different from other brands because they use 'better', 'stronger', more 'durable', 'tastier', 'organic', blah-de-blah-de-blah than their competitors.

We, as performers are not shoes, hats, or generic bowls of goo. Does having a logo make any difference in the world?

I would argue that while nobody is going to mistake me for Sherry Norfolk...
this is not me.

there is still a place for logos in our business.

The logo can be used to give your marketing materials a more professional look. Though nobody is going to look at a graphic and say, 'hey, that means that this is storyteller is more durable than that other one!' having a logo can make your marketing look fancier.

So, where could you find my logo?

I put it on my stationary. This is the same paper I used for my contracts, invoices, communication, and handwritten notes.

The little bit of writing you see on the left side of the page is something I said offhand once when someone was asking me a question about the veracity of my tales. It got a laugh, so I decided to keep it.

"Every story I tell is true...except for the parts I make up."

That little phrase has been used for so many introductions and bios that it is way more associated with me than the logo.

What is nice about the logo, however, is that it can be put on anything that is part of my work product. It gives my marketing cohesion.

One of the things I will talk about over the next few posts is having your marketing materials support each other.

Eight or nine years ago, The David and I decided to redo the marketing material. I had designed my business card and logo, but we chucked the works and rebranded the whole thing. We sent our old stuff to one of them slick marketing groups, told them what we were looking for, and they designed a brand new logo for me.

Simpler. Cleaner. I hated it at first.

This new logo arrived with mock-ups of all sorts of interesting things and a new look for the company. We redid the business cards, the stationary, and got new marketing toys. We even got a color scheme.

So, here are some of the things that changed after we put our marketing materials in the hands of people who actually know how to create stuff for marketing....

Stationary with contact info on the bottom

My new stationary doesn't have that little phrase on the side, but at the bottom, in that gorgeous purplish-red color is all of the contact information for the business.

We use this for contracts, invoices, letters, and anything else you would need for correspondence from the company.

There is a new addition to the stationary...that little frog. Don't forget him, he's everywhere.

The business card is less wordy, laid out in an easy to read manner, and my manager's name is  listed as the contact, not mine! Not only that...if you flip that sucker over....

My tagline is on the back, and there I am in technicolor so that it would be impossible for you to confuse me with Sherry Norfolk.

So, here is the thing about the logo. 

1. It isn't likely anyone is going to associate you with a particular logo since so much of our business is word of mouth, watching people on Youtube, or listening to CDs, mp3s, or finding us on the radio.

2. At some point, if you are working this as a business, it will be necessary for you to produce materials for marketing, legally binding agreements, or correspondence, so having a logo gives you something to put on all of that stuff.

3. If you don't want to create a logo, you don't need to do so. You are a unique performer, and there is no chance someone is going to distinguish you from someone else because you have a puppet theater emblazoned on your jacket. 

So, do you need a logo? Nope. Not a bit of it. Lots of people don't have them. You can have lovely marketing materials without using them. 

In our business, your name is far more important than your logo. Your name is your brand. All of this other stuff, well, that's just frosting on your cake.

Logophiles Unite!

Happy Marketing.


  1. I read this to The David after I finished. He adamantly disagreed that storytellers did not need a logo.

    At which point, I asked him to name or describe the logo of even one storyteller that he would know if he saw it. He looked at me, blinked a couple of times, and admitted that he couldn't think of even one.

    He did point out that it makes marketing a great deal easier. I will admit to that. I said as much in the post, but I do not think it is a necessity.

  2. Now it depends on how you define "logo." Perhaps in the storytelling world we need to substitute "logo" with "look" or "trademark." Whatever that "look" or "trademark" is needs to reflect on marketing materials. My trademark as Rachel Hedman would be the Dutch cap that I always wear. Bil Lepp would be his t-shirt/jeans/ball cap garb (because that is garb). Donald Davis has his bow ties. Baba Jamal Koram has his traditional garb and his drums. All these "looks" can be argued as "logos." If someone bounces around in what they wear, then the storyteller will not be as memorable or recognizable. The voice could be distinct enough like Jackie Torrence or J.J. Reneaux. However, you cannot print that on marketing materials.

    1. What you are talking about, I think, is a signature. As performers, lots of us have signatures. People expect us to look a certain way, perform particular kinds of stories, or present a particular take on the world. We have signature stories, songs, clothing, or sounds. That is not quite the same as a log.

      As you so correctly stated, you can't put your signature on anything...unless you put a graphic of yourself on the card or on all of your marketing.

      When I was first working, the rule of thumb was that you should always put a picture of yourself on the CD or Tape so everyone would know who it was at a glance.

      I assure you that none of my CDs have my logo on them anywhere, but all of them have my picture!

  3. I am familiar with the traditional definition for "logo" though I like to be creative and open that "logo" could be seen in another way for performing artists. My business card simply has my gray Dutch cap and a picture of me is not necessary for people to know who I am. Donald Davis could have only a bow tie image on his business card and that would be enough. It can be funny that the whole image of a storyteller is the logo, though that could be considered a logo with abstract thinking. What I actually said is that you can put your signature on everything. The sound of your voice may be missing, though a picture of your signature/look/trademark works.

  4. Oh, I see what you are saying, Rachel. Thank you for elaborating!

    You make a great point, your signature can be all over your marketing, and you could certainly use it as a logo.

    There is a frog peeking out of almost all of my marketing materials. She shows up everywhere. The reason for this is that one of my signature stories is 'The Exploding Frog'. Aside from that, I love frog stories. Frog is my favorite animal.

    People who know that about me, get that right away. People who don't just think it is a cute little frog.

    Sometimes people ask why there is a frog on everything. That starts a conversation. Most people don't ask anything, and assume it has to do with my aesthetic, or indicative of the fact that I primarily tell folktales.

    I don't use her as my logo only because most people don't know about my connection to frogs. She is definitely my signature, though, and there is no reason I couldn't use that as a logo.

    Your dutch cap, Donald's bow ties, Diane Ferlatte's Stick, Grandaddy Junebug's outfit...I think he is is own logo...all of these could be used or perhaps already are used as logos for specific tellers.

    Very excellent point!