As a design team, you can probably imagine that we get a lot of logo and branding projects.
For many small businesses, it’s high on their list when getting started. Understandably so when you want to use it on your marketing materials, website, and elsewhere.
People often fixate on the logo. Obviously, a logo is important, but it can become a real hurdle if you spend months agonizing over it, possibly putting more pressure on other tasks you need to get done.
With that in mind, we’re exploring logos. Why are they important? What matters? What really doesn’t?
Why are logos important?
Logos are one thing that people will always associate with your brand. They become a face for your business. As you become better-known, people know at a glance that something is from you because they recognize your logo.
Consider some famous logos – McDonald’s golden arches are a simple identifier as you drive in any town. Even young kids recognize them because of their distinctive logo. With that in-mind, logos often drive consumer decision-making, too. You didn’t mean to stop at Starbucks, but you saw their logo from a distance and decided coffee would be great right now. Logos make for very quick brand recognition in any situation.
Logos also help you to stand out from the competition. They are part of your visual identity that helps to distinguish you among others that sell similar products or services. If you think about driving through an unfamiliar town, there are probably cafes there serving coffee, but you can’t distinguish them among the other businesses. You spot the Starbucks logo and that’s why you head there.
What really matters about a logo?
People often get caught up going back and forth over small details. Obviously, you want to end up with the perfect logo for your business, but what’s really worth getting “right?” Here are a few things that matter:
You’re going to use your logo repeatedly, across many different marketing assets. Simple logos are not only more memorable, they’re more versatile from a re-use point of view. This is because a simple logo is easier to replicate in different mediums, making it more easy for designers, printers, carvers etc to work with.
A simple logo should also reflect the overall aesthetics of your branding and stand the test of time. Nike’s “swoosh” logo was originally designed by Carolyn Davidson in 1971. The shape is inspired by the goddess Nike’s wings, but also communicates the dynamic nature of the brand. It has worked for them, with the logo still in use today and widely known across the world, yet it couldn’t be much simpler.
When you consider what makes a logo “simple”, think about shape as well as colors and typeface. A good logo is not over-crowded and reflects the story your brand wants to tell.
Check out the first attempt at a logo for Apple, vs. the logo they have now had for several years.
This is related to the last point about simplicity – your logo should work across various mediums or applications. If you want it printed on a t-shirt or carved onto a sign, it should be able to be scaled and easily applied.
A good logo is versatile – it can easily be scaled across different mediums
Have you ever been confused by a logo that seemed quite similar to a competing brand? Us too. Besides the potential to run into trademark issues, if your logo is too similar to one that already exists, you can confuse prospective customers – who are then less likely to buy.
You could look at it this way: simple + original = memorable. Make sure fonts, shapes and typefaces are original enough that no one can confuse you for someone else. Businesses that are similar run into all sorts of irritating issues, for example, getting someone else’s negative reviews online. Be distinctive!
Balance is a design element that the human eye appreciates. The right balance and proportion is pleasing to the eye and helps your logo to make visual sense.
Logos don’t have to be symmetrical to be balanced – although of course symmetrical logos are balanced. Asymmetrical logos can be balanced too, for example, by using opposite weights to create equilibrium.
What is the overall aesthetic of your business? What is your story? What are your values? This might sound like a lot to communicate in a logo, but we make associations with emotions based on things like colors and lines.
For example, if you run a survival business, you might go for sharp, angular lines that convey a sense of danger or urgency. The same wouldn’t be so appropriate in the logo of a childcare center, where you’d want to communicate safety, and perhaps use child-like colors.
If your brand is young, fun and adventurous, you wouldn’t want a logo that looks like you are a bank. If you run a bank, you wouldn’t like a logo that suggested fun or recklessness!
If you plan on being in business for a while, it’s important that your logo will stand the test of time, no matter how your business might evolve. You don’t want to have to change your logo every few years because then you’ll always go through a period where customers don’t recognize you.
The Nike logo has been successful over time largely due to its universal applications and its overall simplicity. Let’s say you sell electronic products – an example of a logo not being timeless would be if it included an image of current technology. That item may be obsolete in a few years and now you’re in need of a new logo.
What should you consider before a logo design?
First, it’s always worth getting your logo professionally designed. A good designer knows the tools and techniques to produce a logo that will answer the points we’ve discussed above. They can produce a logo efficiently and in the right formats that you will need. You just can’t beat qualifications and experience when it comes to design.
Second, you can expect that a professional designer will have a few questions that will help to guide their design ideas. It’s worth thinking about your answers to these ahead of time and coming prepared. Here are considerations:
- What is your brand aesthetic? What do you want customers to think of when they see your logo?
- What are some examples of logos that you like? Are any of them a similar aesthetic to what you’re looking for?
- Do you already have preferences for colors or typefaces?
- Conversely, are there colors or styles you absolutely want to avoid?
- Are there any motifs or shapes that you know you’d like included?
- What is the core concept or story of your logo?
- What is your brand’s ethos? What are your goals?
A logo plays a key role in the brand visibility and marketing materials for your business. While it’s worth taking the time to get a professionally designed logo that you’re happy with, focus on the elements that are really important first. It’s easy to get caught up in small details when honestly, those don’t always matter.
Your logo should say something about your business – the messaging that you want people to think of when they see it. The best logos are simple, yet timeless. You’ll be able to use them across any different medium with no issues of scalability.
If you need a professionally designed logo or any other regular design needs, give Designed.co a try. Schedule a demo with a Designed.co rep today here.