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Many companies and brands use animals in their logos. Animals have long been a source of symbolism, and so it's no wonder that their images can help you gain a competitive edge. Animal images resonate with customers, especially if they're creatively entwined with a brand identity. With so many others using popular animals in their logos, it can be difficult to select the right animal to represent your company. The following tips for choosing the right animal for your logo should lessen the burden.
First and foremost, your animal should feature characteristics that represent what your company stands for. There are many personified clichés in the animal kingdom - the clever fox, the never-forgetful pachyderm - and these clichés can actually work very well for your logo. The trouble is that it is very likely someone else is already using your logo idea, so you have to conduct as much research as possible to avoid a repetitive theme.
For inspiration, you can look into what certain animals mean to other cultures. Even though it's a symbol of deceit in some western cultures, in Celtic animal symbolism the snake represents the cycle of life. In Chinese animal symbolism, the crab represents prosperity. The Native Americans celebrate many animal legends while the Egyptians deified many animals. Two great resources for learning more about animal symbolism that you can apply to your company are Princeton Online and What's-your-sign.com - for the latter, scroll down and look on the left for "Animal Totems and Symbolism."
Symbolism is one thing, public perception is another. If your chosen animal meant something great to ancient Egyptians but makes today's target customer feel queasy, it certainly won't have the positive brand influence you're seeking. Consider modern-day public perception before you settle on an animal.
Keep in mind that you can influence public perception through design. Sure, many cultures consider the snake to be a vile creature. But that doesn't mean you can't use a snake as your logo, even if you're projecting a positive image. The right designer can make your snake appear clever, cute, happy, wealthy or any other attribute your customers will relate to.
You can increase brand recognition by using a sound-alike animal - one whose name is very close to your company name. This technique is employed by many companies and encourages brand staying power through correlation and because it simply sounds odd and catches customers off-guard, making it easier to remember. Think of the Geico Gecko, the Schwan's Swan or the Shleep Sheep. A slight variation: Aflac uses a duck, because it quacks.
If you can draw on unique yet publicly understood (and approved) animal symbolism to capture everything that is your company in a single visual design, you've developed an incredible identity with powerful potential. Now, all you have to do is market!