Let’s talk about logos. What they are, why you need one, how to make them, and how to use them (surprisingly, something most people don’t plan on!).
Logos: Dressing Your Business for Success
Your logo is the first component of your brand’s trade dress—the visuals that make your company unique in the marketplace—and is one of the most impactful components to the psychological effects of branding.
Ever hear the saying “dress for success”? Of course, you have, but did you ever think to apply that concept to your brand?
Let’s say you are meeting with a business consulting firm—what will you think of their advice if they are wearing cutoffs and a t-shirt? No matter how good the advice maybe, you are going to assume they are full of hogwash, simply based on their attire. The same results if their logo has a juvenile typeface or any other casual stylistic traits: the business is not taken seriously.
As a consumer, what would you think of a contractor for a kitchen remodel wearing loafers, or arriving without a tool belt? Are you going to trust them with gutting your kitchen, and to know when to call in the electrician and plumber to ensure your family’s safety?
Just as we trust business consultants who wear business attire and contractors with a well-worn pair of construction boots, consumers expect your business to have an appropriate trade dress.
While a logo alone won’t guarantee the success of a company (your products and services have to meet expectations as well), the impact your logo has on your overall business success is astounding:
- Consumers are more apt to do business with companies that have a logo that speaks to their service line (trust and tech for IT companies; warmth and compassion for insurance companies, quality, and dependability for home appliances).
- Well designed logos drive consumer brand commitment (and thus improve company revenues and profits)
- Logos can portray a brand’s functional benefits (The strong arm of Arm and Hammer along with the cleaning power of baking soda)
- Logos are a point of connection between a company and its customers and can create an emotional connection between consumers and a brand (Amazon’s logo smiles at the consumer)
How do you choose specific traits to portray in a logo? What makes a logo appropriate or “good” for one company, but not for another? Planning and research are the keys to avoiding the logo pitfalls that plague most companies. This may include settling on a safe block, an abstract squiggle, or plain text that does nothing more than fall short in visually expressing a brand’s values and principles.
Obtaining “Good” Logo Design
When asked what I do, I can say “I design brands.” For 90% of people that means I sketch symbols, and turn them into logos. While that’s somewhat accurate — I do create logos, and that does include sketching— it’s only a small portion of the process.
In order to achieve such a dynamic and broad goal, you can bet this entails more than a quick sketch and some time on a computer to finalize it as a digital file.
A Concept for Every Logo
The psychology behind appropriate visuals has a powerful and lasting effect on how your audience perceives your business. Understanding your industry pain points, your audience demographics, and their expectations are critical to landing on a “good” logo design.
The process starts with planning, researching, and answering questions. Those answers then become the inspiration for the final design concepts:
- Who is the logo for (your audience)?
- What does the company do (service industry)?
Within those two main questions are sub-points that address:
- What colors speak to the needs of the audience, meet industry expectations, eliminate industry confusion, and avoid contamination
- What symbols resonate with the audience (and will not confuse your brand with a competitor)
- What fonts portray appropriate tone of voice for the brand
- What emotions are attached to the brand: playful or serious, technical or friendly, etc.
The process includes many conversations with the business owner, review (or creation) of audience profiles, and industry research to gain an understanding of what’s working, what’s not, what’s being overused, and what can be done better.
Once we understand who we are talking to, and what we are trying to say to them, we can develop a visual mark that will empower the business by connecting directly with the consumer.
Logo Design Case Studies
A Logo for Every Use
“…effectively managed brand logos […] build stronger customer brand commitment and thus allow a brand to improve its financial performance.” ~The Power of a Good Logo
I do a lot of joint marketing with some of my clients, and I am often astounded when working with supplied logo art—or rather at the lack of appropriate logo art. Having a good logo that accurately portrays your brand involves more than a single digital file that is forwarded on to a graphic designer to “work with”.
A quality logo will work in various situations, and thus may require various approved version for specific uses. A great example is square vs. horizontal spaces. If your logo only exists as a horizontal block, you are going to have a hard time placing it (and maintaining recognition) in a square space such as a Facebook page profile image.
A professional logo will be flexible enough to use in any layout; and the designer will account for this by creating final art files for common scenarios. While each logo will require treatments unique to the brand and the final art, some common treatments are listed below:
use of icon or logo mark, sans text
full logo, adjusted text (name or tagline) placement
White or light backgrounds
typically the full logo, professional marks include details about safety zones—area of clear space which must be maintained around the logo at all times
Black or dark backgrounds
typically the full logo with colors adjusted for contrast—may result in removal of all color or a “reversed” version of the logo
Logo’s must be reproducible (and retain correct memory color) for physical (print) and digital uses. This includes multiple color spaces, as well as one color reproduction instances. Color variations must also be accounted for on various backgrounds.
While an ideal mark will reproduce effectively at various sizes, some details may be stressed in smaller situations and some logos (such as the Avays partner logos) are provided in “small”, “medium” and “large” sizes.
Additionally, a full brand trade dress can include various instances of the “logo” including:
- a full mark containing all symbol art and text
- text only vs. icon only (which can include detailed specifications beyond “just remove the text”)
- adaptations for sub-brands or co-branding
- possible adaptations for a “truncated” version are also common for use in apparel, and even social media applications
Once all the specifications are finalized, a final logo package will be delivered that contains a brand usage guide along with all of the relevant digital files.
- PDF or online portal detailing logo use specifications for all approved treatments
- Vector files of each specified treatment
- Raster files for digital use as necessary
- Color specifications in CMYK, PMS, RBG, and Hex color spaces (which could include Adobe Swatch Exchange files for professional design use)
Making a simple logo design obtainable for any business.
The power of an effective logo can be astounding, but to some business owners, the process may seem daunting. However, if you work with the right team, and follow the process, it can be very rewarding and doesn’t have to break the bank. For those just starting their business, doing it right the first time can save the cost and frustration of re-branding later (or going back to do it correctly after years of working with a damaging logo, and then convincing your existing audience that your services and products were never as damaged as your brand).
The process does not have to take months (we generally completed logo projects in a few weeks), and the deliverables do not have to result in enterprise-level invoices. Each and every logo does not need to have multiple instances with complex usage guides—and a simple logo solution could be part of the goals outlined in planning and research.
As the client, there are many things you can do to ensure a positive and streamlined process with any design or branding project, but the biggest “budget savers” for a logo project generally fall in the following areas:
- Research: this is the largest time commitment for the process. The more accurate information you can provide to the designer, the fewer hours they spend researching (and the lower your budget needs to be)
- Color: a single color logo can be easier to use, reproduce, and at sometimes to create.
- Communication: while this ties in closely with point one, it’s worth mentioning again. Communicate with the designer to ensure everyone is on the same page, and reduce the number of revisions during the art process.
Keep in mind that it’s not the complexity of the design, nor a rainbow of colors that make a logo great—it’s the effectiveness of speaking to your audience that turns an icon into a symbol of a great company.
Research impart by https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/the-power-of-a-good-logo/