Think of a brand and chances are that what springs to mind isn’t its product or service, but its logo. This is the power of the logo: an instantly recognizable shorthand for your entire brand that, with any luck and hard work, lodges in the minds of your customers.
Your logo is the visual essence of your brand, and whether you opt for a typographic treatment of your business name (wordmark) or a graphic device (brandmark), it’s an indispensable part of your brand’s visual identity.
Who needs a logo?
The short answer is, everyone. Every small business needs a memorable symbol that encapsulates its unique spirit, with the power to be front-of-mind the next time consumers need your product or service.
The John Deere brand exemplifies this. Their name, running deer logo, signature pairing of green and yellow, and ‘Nothing Runs Like a Deere’ tagline coalesce to create a singular vision of natural power and elegance. If only one of those elements sticks in the consumers’ consciousness, they’re already ahead.
Of course getting a logo and brand to work in harmony together like the John Deere brand, does not happen easily or overnight. A great deal of work goes into creating and then protecting a logo and brand.
It can’t do all the work
Equally, the simple act of creating a logo doesn’t ensure its success. It’s what you do with it that matters. Getting the logo right is important to all businesses, but it’s more important to get the business itself right.
A recognizable logo is more an outcome of success rather than the cause of the success. For example, the Apple logo is, without a doubt, an extremely powerful icon, but only because of Apple’s overall success. Start with a good logo and build the brand underneath it.
Five considerations for logos
Here are five things to consider in order to make sure you end up with a valuable brand asset that will serve your business well.
1. Location, Location, Location
First, where is your logo going to be seen? Will it be online or offline or both? Will you use it on business cards, billboards, embroidered logo apparel, a website or the side of a truck?
Intricate logos or lengthy wordmarks won’t translate well to some applications. For example, many graphic designers and small business owners don’t think about custom embroidery when they are creating a logo.
2. Words and Pictures
Logos generally take one of three forms: wordmarks, brandmarks or both. Wordmarks, as the name suggests, use the name of the business as a logo, whereas a brandmark is a graphic element.
Many of the worlds most recognizable brands are workmarks like facebook, 3M and Wal-Mart.
But if the spirit of your business could be better encapsulated in a striking image, or needs to achieve coherence across a huge range of applications and products, it’s worth thinking about a suitable symbol in addition to the business name.
But be careful, many small business owners try to get the image or graphic in a logo to sell the product. Consequently, they end up creating a graphic element that is too complicated to be effective and useful. In logo design, less is more.
3. Dial up the Personality
You’ve done all the strategic thinking and distilled your proposition. Whatever kind of logo you create needs to also reflect this essence. Is your brand traditional or contemporary? Youthful or established? Global or local?
Whatever the unique personality of your business, make sure that the color palette, style, and feel are in complete harmony. But don’t get too hung up on creativity; think in more practical terms as well – will your color logo still pop if it is copied in black-and-white?
4. Font Matters
If your logo incorporates text, your typographic choices are every bit as important as the color. Consider the character of different fonts – traditional and solid, ornate and feminine, bold and technological – the variations are almost infinite.
Legibility at all sizes and resolutions is critical for any logo.
5. The Test of Time
Although it might evolve over time, your logo needs longevity – its purpose is to become embedded in the minds of your customers, a feat that’s hard to achieve if you keep changing it. Graphic design, as with apparel, has passing trends; so opt for something that expresses your essential style rather than a fleeting fashion. Flash forward 10 years: will it still suit your business? If not, you may need to go back to the drawing board.