Foundational Vocabulary

overview
Having a good identity is a prerequisite to be included in the top of this study. Such a criteria filters out many groups that have great graphics but a forgettable logo; only a few organizations achieve effective graphics without a good logo.

The majority of idenitities that gain recognition by constituents use symbols. The letterform logos rarely are distinctive enough to stand out. Images that are too abstract without a context are also forgettable.

Out of the 700 organizations included in the Sebastian Study, 27 have excellent logos (see reviewed organizations with strong logos that build into a graphic direction). Only a few groups with inferior logos reach graphic excellence because they are so strong in other areas. Unfortunately, most of the 27 organizations with excellent logos don’t carry through. Here are examples of groups that could better develop a graphic foundation based upon a good start:

NOT THE BEST BUT COULD BE:

These organizations have strong logos but don’t carry through into potential applications:

spiral bullet Associated Equipment Distributors
At first, this may look like an abstract gear or industrial mechanism. But on second glance, the AED’s symbol is comprised of people in a circle. Because of this double effect, the image can’t appear too small or the pople get lost. The typeface chosen for the acronym is nothing special.

spiral bullet Association of Rotational Molders International
Given that a sphere is expected for this trade group, this simple treatment conveys global, unity, and industry. With only a few lines, ARM’s symbol is infinitely flexible and offers a circular theme to be extended.

spiral bullet American Society of Hand Therapists
Combining letterforms with a symbol is a good strategy towrd distinction. ASHT’s logo reflects a recognizable integration that uses the master typeface to complement. The image of hands expresses the focus of the organization, making it instantly understandable.

spiral bullet Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development of the AHA
Sometimes abstraction is strengthened by a reference—by vaguely looking like a recognizable image. SHSMD’s abstract symbol reflects integration, communication between two entities, and looks like two hands cupped together. Although geometric, it has a warmth that is appropriate for a health care organization.

spiral bullet Healthcare Financial Management Association
Symbols that are based on a letterform can help tie to a name. HFMA has a formal geometric logo based on an “H” in a beautiful linear drawing. It is interesting that this group chooses lower case type for their acronym, softening the formality of the symbol.

Like getting the invitation after the party, these organizations are missing opportunity. In a challenging economy, nonprofits need to make the most of what resources they have (don’t we all??). To possess a memorable logo and do little with it is such a missed opportunity because it can sharpen the arrow of marketing and publications. Although building recognition is hard to measure, the reactions of constituents are not. If these groups produce graphics that receive few comments from the audience, this is one indication that their focus should be on increasing reactions.

spirals
The Sebastian Study 2010, national review will be available at the end of the year. If you want to be sure that your organization is included, please click here.

the end

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