More often than not, companies approach us to “re-brand” them when in fact, they’re simply looking to have their logo updated. Logos are just a small part of the brand experience – but often the first impression.
A memorable logo is a key element to the visual appeal of a product or service - but it’s not an all-encompassing expression of the business personality and culture as a whole (the brand). However brief and seemingly inconsequential, what you convey in those first seconds of contact has lasting effects throughout your brand’s relationship with your customers; perhaps for years to come.
Many companies simply undervalue the process of determining the element and style of the logo for their own brand – some making the easy mistake in believing that what they like personally, their market will embrace it just as enthusiastically. This “I like it” approach is often myopic, and ultimately unsuccessful.
In a digital world that offers up a barrage of logos in a variety of media contexts every day, how do you develop a logo that uniquely represents your core values and personality? It’s a daunting challenge… even for the most skilled of designers.
In the most myopic of examples, a “re-branding” client may have gone to their cousin’s friend (who “took-some-graphic-classes-in-college-and-is-pretty-good-at-that-stuff”) to design their brand image (logo). Or perhaps they’ve even purchased an inexpensive copy of an obscure graphics program to tackle it themselves. Usually, these early mistakes are made by entrepreneurs who are concentrated on the fundamentals of running their business (and saving money) – with their brand’s imagery taking a distant last in their list of priorities.
This short-sighted approach to developing a strong graphic brand identity nearly always results in eventual failure. I like to compare it to cutting your own hair. It may look great when you look in the mirror, but don’t ask anyone to critique your expertise by the back of your head.
So what makes a great brand logo? Many things – including taking the time to truly distill the essence of the product or service down to one or two very core values. Color, of course, evokes a realm of options that can set moods and express silent meaning. Typography, of course, can be a major factor in determining the culture and style of your look. And certainly, thoughtful, simple, evocative design is always the foundation of expressing a great idea graphically.
How do you increase your chances of creating a truly great logo? Keep these three easy factors in mind:
1. Hire A Professional
Sure…you might save money designing it yourself – or having your cousin’s friend do it for you for practically nothing. Be forewarned: what you’re likely to get may not endure the test of time – let alone the test of technology. Understanding the technical aspects of designing for your specific media takes years of successful practice and knowledge. Spending your money on a professional designer who can show you widely varying styles that can be easily used in any media will be one of the best investments you’ll make in business. Don’t forget – just because you have creative software and can type does not make you a designer.
2. Strip It Down
Everyone has a name (except brands we’ve helped name). Everyone has competition (if you don’t yet…you may soon). How are you going to express the difference in your product or service with a single, brief glance? What visual values set you apart from your crowd? What can you express in color, typography and design that is a simple, elegant statement of your brand’s core values?
It seems easy…but start by making a list of three words that explain you perfectly, and you’ll see how hard it is to decide on those words alone. The best logos are usually the simplest in their expression of an innovative, memorable concept. Start with as many concepts needed until you can combine, and possibly simply just one into the most elegant expression of them all.
3. Express Your Brand’s Emotion
Whether a complex concept from the technology sector, or simple line art in one color – your logo must strive to evoke emotions worth remembering. If it doesn’t, it will likely get lost in a sea of other logos that may be suitable for stationary (for example, the hyper-generic logos above) – but lack the originality and ingenuity to make them truly memorable. If your logo does nothing else, it should be memorable from others in the same category. Uncover that unique value – then capitalize on it for yourself, and entertain your customers with your clever ingenuity.
Designing a great logo isn’t something everyone can do. If you take the time to consider your brand’s core values well before you start to design – you’ll take the first important steps down your own path to the most effective expression of your unique brand.