Are You Launching A New Business Without A Powerful Logo?
Are You Launching A New Business Without A Powerful Logo?
“What about adding a little bit of red?” I ask my wife as we pour over the plethora of business logos we were sifting through.
“Oh God, No,” she responds and throws her hands in the air. “No red. Okay, maybe red if you got rid of one of the other colours. And besides, they all look the same anyway. Can’t you just pick one of those?” You may not feel the exasperation we were both feeling by that time, but you will.
This was pretty much how the last two weeks have gone in my house as the deadline loomed for the contest I was running for a logo on 99designs.com. In a nutshell, I needed a new logo for my new website and after we had a good experience with the site for another project I’m working on, we figured we’d give it a try. After posting what we thought we needed in a logo, the web company distributed it to their designer contacts and voila, 30 plus designers came up with 193 different designs, all vying for my money. And that was only the first round.
But that’s not really where the story starts or ends for a business trying to come up with a logo. Much like a website, you need a logo that works for you, one that shows what you do without being too brash or too boring. And I can tell you from our most recent experience that while it may start from a place of happiness and energy, there will come a time when it becomes laborious and painful.
This isn’t the first time that I’ve had the pleasure of the logo conversation. My first time was for a logo I was working on for my family. At the time, we were working with one designer, but unfortunately we weren’t on the same page. He was coming from a technical background and we were all full of ideas with no understanding of the elements of the logo itself. We didn’t understand what word spacing or colour choice meant to a logo so it took quite some time to come up with a design that worked. Years later, while we were working on our webpage, we realized that part of our problem had nothing to do with the design or the designer. Our problems started the second we came up with a name. The name we came up with complicated the conversation so much that we weren’t even having the same conversation at all. He was discussing the mechanics of logo building and we were talking about what kooky icons we could place on the logo to make it show what we were selling.
Kenview Country Cuts was supposed to be a place to get different cuts of meat, but in the end it sounded more like a hair salon out in the middle of the boonies. The solution of course was to change the name of the company. Kenview Farms is fairly straight forward and defines the company well, implying that we sell what farms would typically sell. We would have saved ourselves hours of headaches and hundreds of dollars had our focus been on naming the company properly the first time. Then we could easily come up with proper ideas to reflect the good name instead of a confusing one.
You have to ask yourself, what goes into a logo design? And no, I don’t mean the real technical concepts like scalability, the ability to look decent in gray-scale, and spacing. Those, your graphic designer will explain to you. I mean the overarching high concepts so you can control how people will see you and your business when they look at your logo.
What is your company’s name?
How will your logo reflect the name?
How will the logo reflect the nature of your business?
Should you use abstract images or not?
Should you just have an image in the logo or add your name?
Should you add your tagline to your logo?
For my current logo, I had a basic idea of what I wanted to accomplish, but I don’t have design skills. I have to rely on experts for that.
Armed with an idea and ideals, I brought my demand to the market. Whether you use a site like 99designs or contract a designer directly in your local market our through Odesk and Elance, you will need to answer these questions. Much like a business plan will set the course for your business, answering these questions will set the priorities for your logo. When your designer comes back with options, you will know how the logo will make you feel. You will ask yourself how each logo will answer these questions. You will have to prioritize those questions as some aren’t mutually exclusive.
Look at some of the most iconic logos and ask those questions. Tim Horton’s uses its name in the logo. When you look at the logo it is obvious. That said, look at the recent copycat from South Korea which used a different name, but similar font. The characteristics of the massive corporation have been adopted, stolen by the knockoff brand. The new company has instant trust and recognition, even if they don’t deserve it. On the other hand, let’s look at MacDonald’s. Whether the name is added to the logo or not, the giant M is enough for you to recognize the company.
You can find many logos that are just stylized writing with design elements imbedded. Coca Cola and Google are perfect examples. Of course, like LG’s logo you can go with only a portion of your name, the first letters. Using abstract images can be powerful, but they can also fall flat. If your business is recognizable then your logo has a chance of setting you apart if it’s unique. If you haven’t defined yourself well enough, then an abstract logo can lead you nowhere, confusing your potential customers.
Logo’s don’t have to be static. Over time, you may want to keep the basic feeling, but update for various reasons. John Deere still uses a deer for their logo, but rather than jumping down, it jumps upwards to imply moving forward to the future. Here is a list of recognizable logo’s and the changes they have made over a their history. The interesting thing about change is that a more reflective logo can become more abstract over time as your customer base grows and you become more recognizable.
The subliminal messaging that you employ can be highly useful. The Fedex logo for example has a hidden arrow between the E and the X implying forward motion. The Amazon log with the arrow from A to Z doubles as a happy face indicating the happiness their customers experience. The possibilities are endless as you load your logo with subliminal elements. Click here if you want to see some other subliminal messages imbedded in logos you may have overlooked.
Whether you’re using a company like 99 designs or a specific designer, it will be a lot of going back and forth. The perfect design won’t appear the first time. Your vision will be sculpted, one small element at a time. In the end, you will find yourself changing the logo until it’s no longer fun. Your designer will be using rules that you won’t understand, but in the negotiations that follow your ideas will come to life and in the end be more than just a picture on a piece of paper. In fact, your logo will have to work in many different mediums; on paper, pens, pencils, computer screens, dirigible blimps, and maybe even skin as people tattoo it to their bodies.
Crafting a logo won’t be an easy task, nor should it be. It has to say a lot about your business, a lot about you. For me, I was looking for elements of business, life, and planning. The winner of my contest brought it all together in the final piece, not only showing the element of planning, but that businesses grow from the seed of planning. Will this logo last me forever? Perhaps, perhaps not. My focus may change just as John Deere’s did. What I know is that it is perfect for the image I want to imply now. I just hope that when you build your own logo you, you find the perfect image to represent your business.
Need help answering these questions? Leave a comment or email me directly.