Good Sam Gets it Right

This week I want to shine light on a brand whose logo really works: Good Sam Enterprises. Let’s have a closer look to see what makes their mark such a great fit for the business they’re in.

GOOD SAM ENTERPRISES

Designer:   Unknown

Industry:   Travel & Recreation Vehicles

Adopted:   1966

BACKGROUND

Good Sam was founded in 1966 by its owner, Art Rouse. The name stems from the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan, which tells of a man who helps a traveler in need. And just like that, you know exactly what Good Sam intends to be: a pillar of kindness, support and security for folks far from home.

Travelers worldwide know the Good Sam brand; as of 2018, membership totals approx. 1.8 million. Good Sam’s product set includes RVs for sale (through Camping World), loans and credit to buy RVs, insurance, warranty programs, roadside assistance and emergency services for its members. These guys are huge.

In addition to paid services, the Good Sam name holds value for folks who’ve never sent them a penny. They employ a three-category rating system telling travelers how parks compare to one another and which amenities can be found on-site.

THE BASICS

The beauty of this mark is in its overt messaging and simplicity.

Sure, it’s corny, but every park visitor is greeted by a pleasant looking fellow centered on a red circle. He’s wearing a broad smile and his head is capped with a bright yellow halo. When paired with text, the company name “Good Sam” is written clearly in bold-faced letters.

Everything about this design says “we’re kind and reliable.”

THE EMBLEM

Good Sam is a handsome fellow, don’t you think?

Take note of how he’s been drawn. Good Sam is a cartoon, yet the artwork doesn’t give off a silly or whimsical vibe – either of which would undermine the brand.

Instead, Sam resembles an average guy from the 1950s. Like Ward Cleaver, he’s well-groomed and approachable. He’s not trying to stand out with some garish costume, nor is he conveying some obnoxiously unrealistic level of enthusiasm. He’s just a really nice guy you can trust.

His halo is a clear nod to the founders’ beliefs, but the Good Samaritan parable is easily understood by folks with no religious leanings at all. Paired with the angle of his eyes you might even feel like he’s keeping a watchful eye over his fellow travelers.

Something you might not know is the powerful effect of a human face depicted in design. Faces are human and instantly relatable. They can elicit emotion and build trust faster than just about any other design element on the planet. And while it’s tough to pull off a character like this, I think Good Sam handled it well.

It’s a great look, really. This identity is high-contrast, uses warm and welcoming colors and is backed by a solid metaphor people readily understand. There is simply no way to misconstrue what this company is built on – good will.

THE TYPE

It’s always important to consider how your design will play in “the real world.” Good Sam made some excellent decisions regarding legibility that are worth pointing out here.

In most applications, the Good Sam nameplate in comprised of bold white letters on top of a solid red field. On lighter backgrounds, they simply invert the red and white.

The first thing they did right was build contrast through the colors they used. Against a blue sky, a forest full of trees or even a crowded business route, that big red field helps frame the text in a very readable manner.

The next good idea was to use a combination of upper and lower-case letters for the company name. People have an easier time comprehending the letters (which are really just symbols)  they see when you maximize the unique features. Consider a name written in all caps – there are less distinguishing marks, making it tougher to read quickly.

And third, their signs are free of everything but the face and the name. When your viewers are blowing by at 50mph+, you need them to see, process and react very quickly. The more data they have to juggle the more likely they are to miss your message.

OVERALL

I love this mark. Bold colors, clarity and a quiet confidence makes the Good Sam logo something everyone can relate to. They did a fine job building a look that appeals to their customer base and is understood within the blink of an eye.

Top marks all around.

Brian Parker
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