Into which camp does your business fall?
- You don’t have a logo, but wish you did
- You don’t have a logo, and could care less
- You have a logo, but have a hunch it’s not quite “it”
- You have a logo that you love
Whether you are thrilled, disgruntled or mystified by the whole logo piece of your business, it’s certainly not something to ignore (ahem, I know you wouldn’t dare do that!). Even if you are all set with your logo, you may still want to tighten up the way you use it.
If your business thrives 100% on word-of-mouth referrals and you have no desire to grow beyond current capacity, certainly you can function quite well without a logo. But most entrepreneurial businesses want to grow, and in fact need to grow in order to keep pace with clients’ growing needs and to outpace the competition. There are many small businesses providing the same professional services as you… having a notable image can contribute to helping you stand out from the pack.
Point blank: Your logo is the visual spark that burns recognition of your business into the minds of your audience. It is the quickest, simplest way to convey your essence – your logo tells your story without a wordy account.
One of the most brilliant logos is:
I don’t even have to tell you the name of the company, you know it instantly (unless you have been asleep for the past 38 years!). This simple symbol swiftly conjures up what Nike is all about: “Just Do It.”
Whether you have an established logo or are newly considering logo design for your business, the following lessons from Nike and other companies with exemplary branding will raise the bar on how your logo serves your company’s image:
1. Always Deliver on Your Brand’s Promise.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, your logo is worth a thousand deeds – make sure your business deeds jibe with the image you are portraying externally. Your logo is not your brand. It is merely a visual reflection of your brand. Your brand includes every element of your business, from the way you answer the phone to your unique method of service delivery to your approach to building business relationships. As you deliver your “brand message” consistently over time, your logo becomes even more powerful because it links their experience of you with the image you use repeatedly.
2. Don’t Short Change Your Image.
I am astounded when entrepreneurs who invest thousands of dollars into equipment, training, entertaining clients, traveling, and many other facets of running a business, take the cheap route with their logo. They hire the neighbor’s “artsy” sister-in-law, or create a do-it-yourself icon with the desktop publishing program that came with their PC. Please, please, please… hire a real graphic designer. Pay the bucks to get this done right. You want your logo to be a masterpiece, not a monster piece.
3. Be Cool About Color Selection.
If your audience tends to be more conservative, you’ll probably want to reflect that. Pick your top ten ideal clients and see what colors they favor. But only let this information guide you – ultimately, you must live with your logo a good long time, so go with colors that please you. There are no hard and fast rules, but ultimately, your logo will strike a balance between what you like and how your audience perceives your company. Talk to your designer about how color selection can impact printing costs.
TIP: Make sure your logo reproduces well in black and white, also. You don’t want your nice logo fading out when the client photocopies or faxes your document. (Faxing? Gasp! I know — who faxes these days?!)
4. Make it Unique – Back Away from the Clipart!
The entire point of creating a logo is to set you apart from the crowd. Spend the money on a designer who will create a one-of-a-kind logo just for your business. Clipart logos are risky – there is a chance that another company uses a similar image. But also, clipart looks like… well, clipart. A little on the kitsch side.
5. Supersize It.
Make sure your designer provides you with a small, medium and large version of your logo. If you need to put it on a business card, it needs to be legible at the smaller size. And if you ever need to put it on a large sign, you’ll want a logo pre-sized for that. Simply upsizing the small version will result in poor quality and often distortion.
6. Be Consistent.
The Nike swoosh has remained consistent since 1972. Repetitive use and strategic placement over all this time means – this simple little graphic is really all Nike needs to convey the company’s message. If they had re-done the logo 5 times since then, well… we can only guess how famous they would be. By the way, I find the Nike logo story fascinating and charming. Check out this Wikipedia article to learn the shocking cost of it’s now-famous “swoosh”!
7. Call your Lawyer First.
Okay, this may be the most unsexy step in the process of creating a logo for your business, but I implore you to invest the time and expense to make sure that your company name is truly yours. Have a trademark attorney conduct a thorough search on your company name before you go to the expense of creating an image around it. How awful it would be for you if you spend years building equity in your company name and brand, only to learn that another company wants to sue you for trademark infringement! Avert this nightmare by getting a lawyer involved. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, try Legal Zoom (this is what I did for both my trademark and forming an LLC) Real lawyers may frown on this practice, but if you have an uncomplicated situation, you may prefer the do-it-yourself route.
I bet you didn’t realize that designing a logo could be so complex! Please resist the temptation to skirt around these issues – put the time and money into creating a logo that builds your image and raises the bar for your business. You may not want to tattoo your logo onto your forehead, but this simple little icon is the most important outfit your business wears.