18 Feb The Power of Logos
EVERY BAHA’I COMMUNITY NEEDS A LOGO.
Bold statement, right? Here’s why it’s true:
- It helps your Baha’i Community have a consistent image and identity
- It inspires trust, admiration, loyalty, and implied quality
- It helps differentiate your Community from similar organizations (i.e. churches, businesses)
If you don’t think a good logo is necessary, think about this: what if every item on the cereal aisle at the grocery store looked the same?
Without logos, you would have a hard time deciding which foods were made by brands you trust. You wouldn’t know which foods were high-quality. You would have a harder time telling which foods were green, or gluten-free. I hate using tobacco as an example, but there have been recent attempts in some places to force tobacco companies to remove all branding and logos from their packaging in order to reduce teen smoking rates (a laudable goal).
Not that I’m sad, but you can easily see why the tobacco companies think that these laws might be bad for their business. Without a logo or branding, it’s hard to see why you should choose one kind over another. Put another way: Logos are powerful — and they can be used for both good and evil.
Local Baha’i Communities are no exception. A good logo means that people can easily identify who you are, what you stand for, and will help remind them of any emotions (hopefully positive!) they associate with you. When you don’t have a logo, it makes it hard for people in your city who only know you from the internet or driving past your Baha’i Center to have a consistent impression of you. If you were a business, people might say that you look unprofessional; like you don’t really know what you’re doing. Obviously, you don’t want that. People have too many other choices of where to spend their time for them to jump out on a limb for people who look unorganized.
So, you see that this is serious stuff — so if it all possible, hire a professional and get your Baha’i Community’s logo done right the first time. You wouldn’t trust just anybody to do your dental work or taxes, would you?
With that in mind, here’s a checklist of qualities an effective local Baha’i logo should have:
- Good typeface (font). Nothing can ruin a logo faster than a terrible font. Make sure that it’s clean, modern, and not distracting. Whatever you do, don’t use Papyrus, Comic Sans, Times New Roman, or Arial. Those foul characters run the gamut of overused and schlocky to dreadfully boring and soulless. I recommend Raleway, Lato, Georgia, or Palatino.
Simple. This allows for easy recognition. Feel free to feature something unexpected or unique, but don’t overdo it.
Make it Memorable.
Timeless. Will it still be effective in 10 or 20 years?
Versatile. It needs to be easy to use across different mediums and formats, whether on your website, Baha’i Center signage, or letterheads. To do this, you should design it in vector format (not PNG or JPG). Adobe Illustrator is most commonly employed to do this.
Appropriate. Make sure that the design is a good visual fit for a local Baha’i Community.
Here’s a corporate logo that does all of the above things well:
The typeface is clean and modern. It’s simple, yet memorable. The Swiss flag is unique, but adds an expectation of high quality (we think of Swiss products — especially watches — as being of higher quality). This logo would totally be usable in 20 years, and is extremely appropriate for the industry. Lastly, it is a simple horizontal shape that can easily be scaled across websites, signage, letterheads, and indeed — the back of the watch itself.
And here’s a corporate logo that went horribly, horribly wrong.
First, never ever ever use Papyrus font. Also, the image needs to be clear, or at least positive. Unfortunately, the food at Cyrenian House seems to be so bad that even the man on the logo goes from depressed to finally setting himself on fire in order to escape.
BAHA’I LOGO EXAMPLES
Here are a few examples of logo successes and growth opportunities in local Baha’i Communities with commentary:
- Make your logo approachable to the people in your city. Personally, I’d lean towards all lower-case text, because it reduces the unconscious barriers that people have when faced with something new. For example, the first logo below is less scary for someone unfamiliar with the Faith than the second:
- In addition, the second looks a little dated. There are three different typefaces being used, and the part that says “Baha’i Faith” looks a little imposing for the average visitor. This is all quite a shame, as the Baha’i Center that the sign is attached to is magnificent inside.
- This third has a few issues. First of all, which city is this? When you don’t put the name of your city up front proudly, you lose a great chance to communicate unity with the people where you live. In addition, if you used this logo on a website or letterhead, it wouldn’t tell you which of the multitudes of the Baha’i Centers in the world it represented. Lastly, the typeface itself is a bit too cavalier and playful. The font on your logo doesn’t have to be super-duper serious, but it shouldn’t remind you of Chuck E. Cheese, either. Remember that the logo that the public sees when they drive by is what they associate with you, whether it’s an accurate representation or not.
- The main opportunity for growth here is the font that “Baha’i Faith” is written in. This is a (very nice!) Baha’i Center in the suburbs of a large city in the South, where non-Christian religions are not as well-known, especially the Faith. The typeface has the unintentional effect of making the Faith seem oriental and exotic, which can put up barriers between even well-meaning people living in the city and their Lord. Using a clean, modern font with the location included would instantly turn the logo on this sign into something special.
- This logo is almost perfect. It has a cute visual of the temple itself in which it is the opposite of overpowering. The temple seems to be peeking up at you! You can’t help but be intrigued and want to know more. The typefaces are beautiful, clean, and modern. The only colors used are white, blues, and a dark (but non-black) background. It’s all so simple, but inviting and versatile. Best of all, it’s relevant to the wider community in which it’s located. They even put “Australian” first. Someone passing by in the Sydney suburbs may not know what “Baha’i” means, but they’re at least intrigued. Pure class.
- Your local Baha’i Community needs a logo so that people in your city can identify you easily on your website, on your Baha’i Center signage, at public/charitable events, and when you make the local news.
- Pay a professional to do it, because this is super important.
- Make sure that the final product is simple, memorable, timeless, versatile, and appropriate for a Baha’i Community.
- Make sure your typeface (font) is clean and modern. If it has Comic Sans or Papyrus, start over.
- Understated is better than overstated.