Ah, the logo.
A logo can seem so simple…and therein lies the danger. In terms of your brand, your logo is essentially playing the role that your face would play in a personal one-on-one meeting. It needs to be clean, precise, and able to tell a story.
And it needs to be able to do so in a simple and refined sort of way.
See…it’s already starting to pile on and get difficult.
For most of the business owners reading this, you hopefully already have a great logo that represents your brand. But you know, it’s never too late to polish it up and make some very minor changes. (That’s another thing about logos—it’s not smart to drastically alter them out of fear or audience alienation and/or brand confusion).
So what makes a great logo? What should your logo convey to a potential customer that is unfamiliar with your brand? And why, oh why, do people make such a big deal about logos anyway?
Your logo should speak of professionalism. You want a logo that is obviously a connection to your business. For some, this can be as simple as the acronym or abbreviation for your business, designed in cold colors or interesting shapes. For others, this might mean that you need to get a little more artistic and creative with it. Whatever you do, don’t create the logo yourself (unless you happen to be a graphic design business…then, by all means, go nuts!).
Your logo should be easy to understand. Is that a J or an upside down giraffe? Wait, what does that say? Oh God, those colors are making my eyes burn!
All of those are examples of what you don’t want to hear people saying about your logo. Above all, your logo needs to be easy to read and easily identifiable. If someone has to stare at your logo for several seconds just to make out what it is (is that a fuzzy brown bear or a tree?) then you’ve done it wrong.
You should like your logo. You can be selfish in this regard. Why waste a perfectly good business idea by tacking up a logo you hate? Your logo should not only represent your brand well, but it should mean something to you.
So what does a great logo say to your customers? Depending on the design and how the logo is presented, it can actually speak to your audience. Does it let them know that you are modern and sleek? Does it tell them that your brand is traditional? Do the exciting colors and fresh design clue them in to the fact that you’re willing to try new methods and take risks?
If you’re looking to have your logo say something like any of these, you need to think about the following principles of basic logo design:
Is it Simple? For the most part, simple logos are easier for people to identify. This means that in a crowded marketplace of competing businesses, people will be able to identify your logo right away in the crowd. Also, when it comes to marketing and having to re-size your logo for certain materials, a simple logo stands a lesser chance of becoming distorted and unsightly.
Is it Memorable? You want something that will stay in people’s minds but you also don’t want to resemble any other business logos. When creating your logo, never use stock photos or ideas based on other businesses. While it is okay to draw inspiration from logos you like, you don’t want your logo to design to be too similar to a competitor.
Is it Timeless? Is your logo design too modern? That is, is it based on a current trend? This can sometimes be the toughest aspect of creating a great logo—understanding what elements of a logo are timeless and not based on something that has the chance of being popular and trendy for only a small amount of time. How can you tell? Well, that’s the tricky part. You want to stick to ideas and elements that aren’t outdated but, at the same time, don’t want to take too much of a gamble on something that is perceived to be cool at that time. Take a look at the logos of companies that have been around a while to get a sense of the aspects to a logo that is timeless.
Here’s the thing…your logo is very often the first thing people see in relation to your brand. You want it to be attractive and impressive. If you can create a logo that instantly makes a random viewer want to know what you do, you’re doing it right. When people want to learn more about your brand and are driven to do that without your own push, you’re doing better than most businesses out there today.
Similarly, you also need to understand than an unattractive logo can also turn people away from your brand. Imagine that…someone shying away from your business before they even speak to you or meet with you. It’s a daunting thought, but it does happen.
So to make sure you don’t turn people away and that your logo is acting as bait of sorts, there are a few other things that your logo can say to your audience. These are statements that are based on you and your brand, serving as a proper introduction to your business.
For instance, a good logo should say (through you):
I am comfortable in my brand’s identity and I know what we represent.
In other words, we aren’t wishy-washy on our goods and services. We do this one thing and we do it well. A logo can represent this with bold simplicity and strong, borderline cocky, taglines attached.
I am a professional.
This is much like the comment above. Unless it’s part of your gimmick or approach, try to avoid cartoony characters in your logo. Studies also suggest that professional logos aren’t oversaturated with a lot of colors; you’ll see 2 or 3 at the most. Colors should not be a distraction, but a highlight or supporting trait.
I fully understand my target audience and can meet their needs.
If you know your audience well enough, you should be able to design a logo based on their interests, likes, and expectations. If you have a product or service that caters to a younger crowd, you might consider something colorful and exciting whereas a more traditional crowd may prefer something timeless and classic. Knowing your audience is a key component to creating a winning logo.
I am unique and can offer many things that my competitors can’t.
This is where creativity comes into play. Taglines along the bottom of a logo can help here, too.
If you want to get a leg up on your closest competition, look at their logos and create one that has everything that theirs doesn’t. Set yourself apart with a logo and your audience will assume that there is something different about your brand that all of the others.
Does your logo do any of these things we have discussed? Or perhaps you’re finding that your current logo isn’t quite up to par. If this is you, touch-ups are fine but you want to avoid altering your logo completely. This can cause brand confusion and alienate some of your existing customers.
In the long run, you’re better served to hire a graphic artist or ad agency to come up with a logo that would work best for you. This is one area where you never really want to skimp on price.