Take Your Group to 2.0: Get a Logo

User Groups 2.0

We recently mentioned the need for a group logo in discussing the components of a user group identity, but the topic deserves special attention because it is so important. It can also be difficult to change once you’ve invested time and money in creating any amount of mindshare with your members, your community, vendors, and the larger world of Mac User Groups.

Why a logo? Look around you at the, literally, thousands of brands you encounter every day. You don’t have to read them. You always know them by shape (Apple, Nike) and by color (Coca-Cola red, IBM blue). They allow a presence to be placed on a wide variety of items and in a wide variety of media in a concise but recognizable fashion.

Here are some things to consider when creating or selecting a logo:

Where will it be used: You can count on print media (newsletters, business cards) and on your web site. You should also be thinking about custom crested gear (t-shirts, caps, polo shirts). How about banners for your meetings?

To graphic or not to graphic: Many groups do a great job with their acronym…assuming it isn’t too long and can actually be pronounced in a reasonable fashion. A couple we like are the Boston Macintosh Users Group (BMac), MacCore and the Los Angeles Macintosh Users Group (LAFCPUG).

Want to use your whole name? If it isn’t too long or if you’re creative, that can work just fine, graphic accents or not. Two good examples are MetroMac and The Rest of Us.

Or, our favorite, create a symbol or graphic that suits your group and your identity and that can (but doesn’t have to) stand alone, with no supporting text. Consider Capitol Macintosh, Triangle Macintosh Users Group and The Corvallis Macintosh User Group.

Complexity: The more details, the more text, the more anything you try to pack into a logo, the harder it is going to be to reproduce. The smaller the logo becomes, the more it turns into a mass of unintelligible gibberish and that’s not what you want for your identity. Simple is beautiful and makes life much easier.

Colors: Sure, many colors can make an impact. They can create headaches too, especially in combination with the complexity considerations. On paper, a multi-color logo may mean requiring four-color printing. On a t-shirt or polo shirt it may mean extra charges for all the colors, driving up the prices and increasing the chances of errors. In all cases you have more color-matching problems to face. Settle on one or two colors if at all possible. You will thank us later.

No Apple, No How, No Way: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: stay away from the Apple logo, stay away from Apple product images or characitures. Why? How about:

• You’re not licensed to use them.

• They make you look like something you aren’t. (Many user group leaders complain when members or potential members expect free tech support. Gee, wonder where they got the idea you are associated with Apple?)

• They date your group. We know of several groups that are *still* using the old rainbow Apple logo in some form, and they sure look like they are out of touch. Others still cling to images of the classic Mac SE-like box or early model iMacs. Many of today’s Mac owners don’t even recognize those machines now.

If you feel you absolutely *must* have an Apple logo on your group’s site, make certain your group has Apple-recognized status and then use the approved Apple User Group logo in compliance with the published guidelines. (Those are topics for future articles, but you can get more information now in our Apple User Group Resources Section.)

Getting A Logo: If you are among the graphically-inclined in your group, create your own. If you’re not, consider holding a contest for the best logo and award a small but meaningful prize (an iPod shuffle comes to mind), and bragging rights to the winner. You’ll be shocked at the quality and diversity of designs you receive.

The Bottom Line: A logo will be the graphic representation of your group. The odds are that you are going to want to live with it for a long time. Don’t rush the creation process and be certain it can be adapted to all the uses you can think of for both present and future. You and your group will be rewarded with a symbol you’ll be proud of.

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