Now that we are all on the same page and you know you need a logo, where do you begin? (If you missed my blog from last week, “A Company Logo: Is that even necessary for a small business?”, check it out before you get going, but I think you know the answer!) Whether you have a few ideas to bring to your brand designer, or you’re hoping for some enlightenment during the logo design process, there are a few things you should think about. Let’s take a look.
1. Let’s start with your brand.
In our last blog about logo design, we spoke about how a logo can help with your company identity by offering a face for your brand. We noted that if you have well-intentioned values and goals, the benefits of having a logo as a face for your brand is a positive association you cannot afford to miss out on. We also told a little story about becoming a repeat buyer from Gator Hammock because their logo was in alignment with their business.
All three of these are a part of building a logo based on your brand. This is, of course, a tricky place to start. Have you already designed your brand? Established your message? Identified your purpose, goals, and values? Do you already have a designated palette of colors, fonts, shapes, textures, photos, etc. to start working from that are in alignment with the brand-building blocks above?
While building a brand before starting to design a logo may seem a bit overwhelming if it is not something you have already done, it is a worthwhile step that you will have to take. Unfortunately, a logo itself is not a brand. It will be very difficult to ensure that your logo is well thought out and in alignment with your business, values, goals, and message if you have not first established what they are. (If you have not yet established your brand, I have created a worksheet, titled Building Your Brand, to help you do just that!)
2. Design your logo with a purpose.
In addition to developing your brand, answering a few questions about the purpose of your logo will help clarify what direction you need to go in before you begin designing.
What is the purpose of your logo? If you think about the brand you have built, the values and goals your business is based on, and the message you want it to portray, what are a few words that come to mind? Are there a few words that you would like the world to associate with your company, your products, or your services? Jot them down. Starting with a few words in mind to give your logo a message to deliver or embody can be a very easy way to make a positive association between your brand and your logo. Here are two snippets from our questionnaire form that we send out to all new brand development clients.
A great example of this embodiment is Nike with its infamous swoosh logo. Nike is the Greek Goddess of Victory and her wing, is named the “Swoosh”. In Greek Mythology it is said that the Goddess’s Swoosh motivates warriors and gives them immense power and strength. What an amazing message to portray as a health and fitness brand for athletes in a simple logo.
3. Get Inspired.
The last key step before you begin the design phase: finding inspiration. Take a look at all of the logos already in existence. You can do this by simply typing in “logos” into a search engine, by looking at logos collected for the purpose of inspiring similar to Awwwards, or through taking a peek at more detailed resources like Logo Design Love. Finding inspiration and deciding what elements or things you do and don’t like are key to beginning the design process.
Once you have a good base to start from, there are several key points to keep in mind when beginning to sketch out possible starting platforms for your logo:
1. Avoid trends.
A timeless logo, that does not buy into any of the hype or trends of the year, is one that can withstand the test of time. You want your logo to be the face of your brand—what people remember when they think of your company, and what they recognize when they see it on your products. How can your clients, or worse, potential new clients, associate anything with you, your brand, or your business, if you have to change your logo so much that it is not easily recognized? Avoid current “trends” and give your company the best chance of being able to reap the benefits of a long-term, recognizable logo.
Some of the most recognizable logos and well-known companies are time-tested examples of this idea. Since 1962 the logo for ABC, The American Broadcasting Company, has been the letters “abc” in a circle. While the color and treatment of the font and circle has changed slightly throughout the years, the original design idea has remained consistent for the past 55 years and it is one of the reasons that it is one of the most well-known logos to this day. Source: Fandom
2. Be clear.
A potential customer being able to understand the basic idea, story, or principal, behind your logo, is critical to success. Have you watched a commercial that was so confusing that when it ended your head hurt?
Remember the Puppy Monkey Baby commercial that aired during the Super Bowl a while back? I remember looking around the room to a group of contorted and confused faces. It was clear that the commercial was for a Mountain Dew product, but only after investigation did I understand that the intended message was that parts of three things that don’t always go together, can be one great thing together. The creature that dances around: part puppy, part monkey, and part baby, is representative of the drink being part Mountain Dew, part juice, and part caffeine. This commercial makes it very clear that developing a clear message in the commercial, marketing world, is both difficult and essential.
3. Keep it simple.
Your logo is going to go on everything, everywhere. It needs to be adaptable to the most simple and complex situations, from screens to paper, to objects. It needs to be recognizable when scaled down to a very small size, but clear and precise at large sizes. It needs to be able to be displayed when technology is limited in order to have the most positive impact on your business. Keeping your logo design simple can help achieve this. In this case, simple does not mean bland or lacking creativity, it means that your logo is not too complex or ornate to be understood at a small size or in black and white. It also means finding a brand designer who will create a full logo suite for you (horizontal and vertical versions, with and without taglines, a logo mark, a favicon, etc.) Both logos we have discussed above, Nike and ABC, are great examples of the simplicity principle.
4. Color is key.
Humans have perceptions of color built into their brains. Some are passed down from our ‘life or death instincts’ ancestors and some are ingrained in us by how our society chooses to represent and use colors. For example, red, the color of fire and blood to our ancestors, is often associated with danger. Our culture has utilized the instinctual connection as an indication to stop in our traffic lights, traffic signs, and emergency stop buttons in industrial equipment. In logo design, this translates to bold and exciting and is used as an attention grabber. (Think about what color nearly every “SALE” sign you see in a store is.)
Blue indicates stability, loyalty, and trustworthiness. Green represents growth, natural, and eco-friendly. Yellow portrays happiness and optimism but can be seen as childish. Purple indicates royalty and prosperity. Every color has its associations, though some can be clearer than others. There are usually positive and negative associations with each color, so be sure to do your research and pick out the colors that best represent your brand message and values.
Note: Keep your audience in mind. Whereas many cultures around the world see red as a color of danger, Chinese culture views red as joy, luck, and good fortune. While blue in many cultures is seen as a calming and peaceful color representing confidence, truth, and loyalty, Indian culture sees it as a representation of mourning and disgust. Be sure that the color you are choosing represents the tone you want to convey in the cultures where your logo will be present.
5. Be memorable.
If your logo is not memorable, it will not bring you the benefits you are aiming for. Do you remember in our previous logo blog when we spoke about being able to figure out the brand name of that seasoning purely because the colors and design were able to be recalled? As a result of Gator Hammock’s logo being clear, unique, memorable, and in alignment with their business, I was able to become a repeat buyer. Had their logo not been memorable, or had they used colors that every other hot sauce or seasoning brand used, I would have been stuck in a difficult place. While all of the topics we have talked about are important if a client is unable to remember the company your logo represents, all of the hard work you have put in is of no use.
With your brand, logo purpose, inspiration, and these five principles in mind, you are on your way to a logo that screams “you!” Grab a pencil and paper and start sketching or schedule a free consultation and let the experts design for you! For a little last bit of help, below is one of my favorite creativity boosting songs!
Check out the Building your Brand worksheet here.