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Nailing Brand Recognition

Horizon Organic Dairy product line up in 2004. My first project after graduating The Art Institute of Colorado in 2003.

After I graduated from The Art Institute of Colorado in 2003, I was fortunate to get hired at the place of my internship. Hello Horizon Organic! I was SO excited to get my career started and work on a team with two other professional designers. It was here, under the art direction of David Morton, that I learned the process of creating national brand recognition.

Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. Effective frequency is the number of times a person must be exposed to an advertising message before a response is made. When working on building a national brand, I quickly learned that the time a merchandiser has to grab the attention of the consumer is mere seconds. It could take the consumer up to 20 times of exposure to the product before they are intrigued to act/purchase.

When I came on board with Horizon Organic their packaging was in the process of a revamp. At the time it was a small, organic dairy company in Boulder, Colorado. Most of their sales were regional, but the demand for organics was a nationwide opportunity. New packaging was key to growing the success of Horizon Organic and turning it from a regional organic dairy company to a nationally recognized household brand.

Happy the cow had already made her debut and still to this day is the brand’s spokescow! Although she was on the existing packaging she didn’t POP off the white container and say, “Buy me!”… not yet any way. This was the birth of the RED packaging you see on the shelves today all across the United States! Red was not a common color in the dairy case and so we were confident the new red would jump out against our competitors. In addition, Happy the cow brought a light-heartedness to the front panel that encouraged consumers to trust in Horizon Organic as a household name.

If you are developing a brand that needs to hold recognition for decades to come, here are a few things that may help you get started:

  1. DO YOUR RESEARCH! If you want your brand to stand out against competition then you have to get to know the competition.
  2. HITTING YOUR TARGET: There is a reason that you don’t see a Comic Sans type font on the tail of a commercial airliner. Comic Sans type fonts belong at Toy R Us and PBS. So get to know the target audience of your brand. For example, use a chic, sassy color palette when marketing to professional females 30-45, but switch it up completely if your primary market is male dominant.
  3. LOVE COLORS: There is a reason McDonalds and Burger King use red and yellow in their brand and restaurant builds– red triggers the appetite and yellow is the color of warmth and happiness. There is a great article about the psychology of color found here.
  4. KEEP FONT SIMPLE: You will do your brand a favor by designing a logo that is not complicated. Use fonts that are easy to read at a 10pt. size. If the font that you choose is hard to read then no one will take the time to read it. As a designer, I am always paying attention to logos and there are many times I cringe. Stay away from thin, sans serif, script fonts such as Scriptina. Fonts that have broken edges such as Papyrus won’t do you any favors either, because fonts like these are hard to read and embroider on apparel. Some of my favorite bold sans serif fonts right now are Bebas Neue, Couture and Scala Sans. For tons of free font options, I like to visit DaFont. For more custom work I like to resource my fonts from Creative Market. Think simple and timeless.
  5. ICON: When I say Nike, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? The swoosh right? The Nike “Swoosh” is a corporate trademark created in 1971 by Carolyn Davidson, while she was a graphic design student at Portland State University. A year later, the Nike Swoosh made its first appearance on a pair of running shoes. My point? Icons can become the trademark of your brand. If you use an icon in your logo make sure it is strong enough to stand alone, otherwise it is probably not worth including.
  6. COLOR VS. BLACK AND WHITE: This one is simple to explain… does your brand hold up in black and white? This is important for many reasons! You want your brand to still be recognizable and easy to read in black and white. The more clear it is in black and white the easier it will be to replicate across the company when it comes to labeling equipment, apparel, invoices, packaging, storefront, etc.

I look forward to hearing your experiences in brand development! Feel free to tag your website in the feed to open your doors for all of us to come see what you’ve been working on!

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