Branding IT: Logos, slogans sell the IT message

Creating a slogan or even a logo might be the best way to promote your team internally

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Mission possible

Writing a mission statement is essential to helping IT sharpen its brand identity, according to Ouellette & Associates' Benson. "Get an understanding of what clients expect from you as the IT department, whether it's operational excellence or innovators of new technology," she says.

An IT department at a company that had suffered badly during the downturn, she says, focused its message on its ability to be innovative with the resources it already had. Another O&A client wanted to emphasize how easy the IT department was to work with, so it created a logo and a slogan and had them emblazoned on company-colored polo shirts; an oval over the pocket featured the new slogan: "Tech IT Easy."

IT mission statements vary dramatically depending on the business you're in, says Azzarello. An IT department for an online business would likely want to be known for its ability to support 100% uptime, while one in a traditional company might want to emphasize the creative ways in which it can help cut costs or improve efficiency.

"Nobody cares how hard you work -- you have to do things that show you understand what's important [to the company]," she says.

Get a reality check

While many IT professionals might deny being creative, Benson says that in the workshops she holds, it never takes more than 20 minutes for a group to brainstorm some solid ideas. She urges CIOs to involve the technical staff in logo development, since it's a great team-building exercise and increases their level of buy-in.

However, it's a good idea to also involve other groups -- including the marketing and legal departments -- before making any final decisions, she says. Marketing, for instance, can help you stay consistent with how the company brands itself for its customers, Archibald says. And you may need to check with legal about restrictions on using elements of the corporate logo.

This is particularly true if you have any plans to market IT services outside the company, Druby says. His former IT organization planned to establish external centers of excellence and incorporate that into its eventual logo. "You don't want to have to do your logo all over again, so you need to think that through," he says.

Marketing professionals may also be able to give advice on the latest color trends or the psychological impact of color and shape, Benson says. "Right now, it's all about greens, tans, browns and oranges -- colors reflecting the earth, whereas 10 years ago, bright colors were popular," she says.

And men and women tend to respond differently to shapes, she adds. For example, studies have shown that triangles yield high retention rates among both men and women, but men associate the triangle with mystery and power, while women associate it with threat and danger. The oval seems to appeal to both sexes.

Gender reactions to colors are more similar, Benson says -- blue scores low for both men and women in terms of reaction and recollection, while red scores high, even though men associate this color with excitement and women associate it with intimacy.

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