In the 1950s and 60s, the conventional wisdom among marketers held that plastering a company’s logo in every place possible is the best way to lead potential customers its way. They tricked you, in a sense, into seeing an ad (Gotcha!).
The front page of NJ.Com today (pictured) suggests the designers of that site have, for some reason, retained this misguided notion. NJ.Com is the online home of the Star-Ledger, the Trenton Times, the Jersey Journal and several other of the Garden State’s most widely read papers. The logo forming the wallpaper that flanks the site’s content is that of an auto dealership owned by a former professional football player (hence the helmet).
To the visitor with some Internet savvy, the page’s design resembles something a 13-year-old might have created in 1998 in Geocities. To a casual observer, it’s simply chaotic and off-putting.
It’s easy to understand the strategy at work here : if a website’s visitors can’t help but notice a logo, they will begin recognizing it elsewhere, hopefully forming in their subconscious minds a positive impression of the company it represents.
This method is so easy to understand, in-fact, that just about every marketer has tried it. Now, the average consumer sees hundreds of advertisements and logos each day. This leads to a level of brand-fatigue that’s tough for a logo – no matter how prevalent – to penetrate.
So how can a small business get through to its intended customer? By figuring out exactly what its customers need and meeting this need with superior skill and dedication. Instead of marketing futilely to the masses, smart businesses select a small segment of the population that can’t get enough of what they have.
Mission Bicycle Company does this well. It caters to a small but devoted customer base, offers products its customers perceive as being of high quality, and commands high prices. We can’t know exactly how well the company does, but I’ll bet it turns a handsome profit without resorting to annoying (and expensive) ads that insult its customers’ intelligence.
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