Deciding on a logo that will be perfect for your small business can be hard and often more weight is put on the decision then necessary. While a logo is important, and a memorable visual part of your identity, it is only part of your brand, not the whole thing, so it isn’t worth getting too hung up on. And with the right direction and tips, you can more easily decide on good logo to be the mark of your brand.
I often see within small business facebook groups, people sharing the logo concepts that their designers sent them, asking for feedback and thoughts on which concept is best and what they should tell their designer. I realised a lot of people have no idea how to give their designer effective feedback, or know how to make a decision about the best logo for their business. When people post their logo concepts in groups they get so many different and varied opinions, I often wonder if it is only making it all the more confusing for them, rather than helping them make a clear decision and having effective feedback to get the best result.
What is a logo, and what part does it play in your brand?
A logo is the mark of the brand. It is NOT your branding, but just one element. Branding is about the feeling you create, the overall vibe, feel, culture, language and how it makes your customer feel. Your logo is a memorable mark, that helps people to identify your products and marketing material. But it is also not the only visual element that identifies your brand. Your colours, fonts, photography and graphics also play a big part, if not bigger part. Logos can change over time, but generally it is best to just tweak, develop and modernize a logo, not completely overhaul it. So when you go about creating a logo, remember it is not the only visual aspect of your brand, and though you can change it later to suit design trends, it is better to have something that will only need small tweaks not a full re-design.
Start with a suitable mood board
Before creating your logo or asking a designer to create a logo for you, it is important to start with a suitable mood board. This is a collection of inspiring images that encompass the overall feel and vibe you want for your brand. Be sure the images suit your industry, and your target audience and think outside the box a little. I like to stat with word brainsorming and then search for images based on those words. E.g Feminine, upbeat, colourful. Think about who you are, what you do, what you help people with and how your brand differentiates itself from others in the same industry. Think about your brands persona, if it was a person (which it is, if you are a entrepreneur) what key words and imagery portray this. When looking at colours also consider colour meanings and what feeling those colours give and if that is appropriate to your brand.
Keep it Simple
Don’t be tempted to put everything into to your logo, and make it say everything about your brand. Remember it is not the only part of your visual branding and there are many other aspects to your branding to communicate your message and personality. Keep it simple, and easy on the eye rather than over complicating things. Don’t use more than two fonts, and keep graphics fairly simple and not over detailed or complex. When you keep your logo simple it becomes more iconic and memorable and is also more adaptable.
Make it timeless
The best logos are timeless. They can be used for not 1-2 years but 10-20 years. It can be very tempting to follow trends and use the latest fonts and styles, but this will quickly date your logo. Keep design trends for your promotional material, that can be used just for that time. But remember your logo needs that staying power. While it can be tweaked over time, you don’t want to be starting from scratch every few years. This way it becomes a memorable mark of your business, so even if your marketing, website and packaging changes, the logo always remains. Think more classic, simple and timeless fonts and graphics that hit at your brand rather than just fleeting trends.
Make sure it is scalable and works on all collateral.
Think about how the logo is going to be used. It needs to look good and recognisable when it is small on your business card, the banner on your website, on social media, as well as big on posters, window displays or even a shop sign. Thin about how you will be using your logo, and be sure it is not only scalable but also looks good on all the collateral and places you plan to use it. And think beyond the now, what are your business goals, how might it be used in the future as well.
What does it say about your business
While I said your logo shouldn’t try to say everything, it does need to say something. Consider the message your logo is portraying, it could be simply the status like ‘luxury’ or it could be the feel like ‘fun and exciting’ it could be the benefits your brand offers ‘health and wellness’ or it could hint at your industry and what you offer. It doesn’t need to be blatant, in fact logos work better when the message is subtle but still felt. Consider one key aspect you want your logo to communicate and make sure it communicates it well. You don’t want to confuse people about your brand. For example you don’t want your logo to communicate health and wellness if you sell donuts. But also don’t focus so narrowly on that one aspect that you create confusion in another aspect. For example if you sell luxury ethical clothing, and you focus solely on communicating ethical in your logo, but make the logo look more chain store level rather then luxury.
Does it attract your target audience and is it relevant to your industry
Take time to research and consider your target audience and look at what the rest of your industry is doing visually. While you want to set yourself apart and create a logo that is unique, you also don’t want to look out of place and un-aligned with your industry and your audience. If you are an artist, you don’t want a logo that makes you look more like a computer software company. And if you audience is adults, you don’t want to look like you are aimed at children. While this may sound obvious, it can be easy to get carried away trying to be unique that you lose sight of relevancy. Spend time researching what your target audience likes visually, to be sure they will be drawn to your brand and not turned off.
Consider how it positions you?
Does your logo style and feel align with how you want to position your brand. Do you want to look high end luxury, corporate professional, down to earth approachable, discount cheap and cheerful. How do you want to position your brand and your level of expertise and offering. And does your logo portray that or is it sending the wrong message.
Allow room to grow
This is where thinking into the the future comes in. The reality is businesses change, adapt, grow and transform over the years. Don’t let your logo narrow or impead your ability to grow and still maintain the consistency of using the same logo. Spend time really thinking about what you want for your business and how you may wish to adapt and change as your skills, lifestyle or business model change. For example if you are a photographer and currently do family portraits, perhaps you will want to expand into weddings later and maybe after years of experience you will want to do less client work and teach photography. If your logo centered too much on the family aspect, this doesn’t give space to grow or change. However if you have spent a lot of time working through your long term vision and have decided you want to solely focus on one thing and not change, that’s ok. But be sure to take that time to think about it and consider if you may want to grow or change as the years go on.
Follow Design Principles
Good and timeless design follows the design principles. Balance, harmony, emphasis, contrast, pattern, shape, form, line, scale, rhythm, space, value, colour and texture. If you don’t know a lot about design, reading up on these basic principles will give you a much better grounding and understanding about design and what works and why it works or doesn’t work. When reviewing logo concepts, consider each of these as you look at each concept. Is the design balanced, is it harmonious, is the spacing right, is the scale of the logo to the tagline right. Rather than dumping an idea that seems off, looking at the design principles may help you to adjust it and make it work.
Does it work in B&W as well as colour?
Be sure to test your logo in black and white, especially if it uses a lot of colour. Remember even if you always want to use it in colour, how will it look to others if they print off your workbook on a black and white printer.
Vector vs Pixel
This is a more technical aspect you need to keep in mind. Vector graphics are made up of mapped out points, and pixel graphics are made up of squares. The reason this is important to logo design is that logos need to be scalable. A pixel graphic will only look good at the size it is created and smaller. So if you make a pixel logo and design it on an A4 size page, when you blow it up for a poster or billboard, it will lose quality. Vector graphics however look good at any size, and generally tend to look cleaner than pixel graphics and are easier to change colour and place on various backgrounds. While a pixel based logo can still work and is necessary to achieve certain effects and styles, a vector based logo will be more adaptable. So it is something you need to take into consideration, and think how you want to be able to use your logo.
Don’t be a copycat
Make sure your logo is your own and follow a design process rather than being direct inspired by one or two things. Do not copy another logo you love, even if you do it a little differently so as not to infringe copyright, the influence is still obvious and reflects poorly on your business identity. I see it all the time, it it is glaringly obvious! I am quite aware of a lot of influential designers and creatives and I know their style and logos, and every now and then I come across a blog or business who’s logo just look like a copy of a style I know, and I can instantly pick the influence and who they where ‘inspired’ by. It looks tacky, unoriginal and devalues your brand. Aim for something unique, different and individual. Don’t be afraid to be yourself and have something unique to you, rather than what someone else has done that you know works for them.
There are always exceptions to the rules!
While all these tips are important to creating and deciding on the perfect your logo, there are always exceptions to the rules. But when it comes to design, to break the rules you first must know the rules. That way there is reasoning as to why you broke the rule, and you spend the time thinking about how you can make it work and why it works for your specific project.