Creating the right logo for your business is a creative exercise that requires research, patience and a deep understanding of your brand message. Knowing what you wish to convey in your logo is the first step in focusing your narrative and clearly communicating your expertise. As well as a key identifier, your logo, says “I know what I am doing”.
“All I need is a logo!”, Maybe you’ve said it or you’ve even thought it. “After all once I have a logo for my business I have something I can put on my website, business cards, packaging, signage, social media pages and letterhead. Once I have a logo I can brand everything easily.” This is a common misconception about the role and use of a logo that is often made when it comes to starting a business brand.
A decent logo can say “I’m doing things well”. A great logo will say “I know what I’m doing and I’m doing it right!”
Nothing says “I DO NOT know what I am doing” more than incorporating some tired cliché into a logo. We’ve all seen them. The fingernail half moons, planets, rocket ships, swooshes, houses, trees, leaves, acronyms in boxes, checkmarks, stylized swoosh people and a tired long list of things that have been exhaustively done already. Using any design cliché also runs the risk of appearing as though you are trying to copy someone and capitalize on their success which can become a copyright infringement nightmare. It is best to avoid cliché altogether and create your own logo following a few unique identifier tips.
“Too many elements does not a logo make” should be a mantra running through your head when designing your own logo.
Here’s something you might not have been told before, but I firmly believe creativity is something that CAN BE learned and developed. Thinking creatively is key to portraying the unique selling features of your business. Try to use some creative thinking exercises. Forego exhaustively trying to make one thing “happen”, like perfecting that realistic representation of what your business does into icon form, and explore your options. Symbols and shapes don’t necessarily need to be obvious representations of their real world counterparts. They can even be abstract so long as they don’t detract from the overall purpose of the logo. However, if you decide to go with a logo that includes a symbol or shape icon that looks like a real world object try to make it your own stylistically. Visual double entendres, ambigrams, abstract designs and well-executed letter marks can make your logo into something special. Looking at several logos that use these techniques can provide you with inspiration. For example The Guild of Food Writers, Spartan Golf Club, MyFonts and The Pittsburg Zoo use visual double entendres. Nine Inch Nails, Abba, Aerosmith and New Man Clothing make use of ambigrams. Mitsubishi, Nike, BHP Billiton, Chase Bank, MasterCard and Sony Vaio are clever abstractions. The logos for Chanel, Toyota, Gucci, Hewlett Packard, IBM and CNN make good use of unique letter marks. But perhaps you don’t even need an icon. Keeping in mind that a logo doesn’t necessarily have to have an icon opens up some more design options in terms of fun typography for a word mark. Just look at Disney, Sony, Visa, Canon, Coca-Cola, Dell, Facebook, Budweiser, Ray Ban and Fed Ex for example. Each word mark is instantly recognizable and uses unique fonts, simple letterform adjustments and/or custom type design in a way that makes sense for their company. Another takeaway from studying logos of big name brands is their simplicity. “Too many elements does not a logo make” should be a mantra running through your head when designing your own logo.
Knowing what you are doing requires that you do your research well. It’s not enough to avoid the design clichés and try to make something original. You should look at the logos of competitors and search for things that may be similar to what you are proposing to design. If your proposed logo looks similar to something that is already created you will need to explore other options. It’s not a bad idea to have people you trust look over your logo to make sure it doesn’t look like something they’ve seen before or like anything that could be mistaken for something else too. This doesn’t mean you couldn’t emulate a certain style for effectively creating, for example, a retro-style logo. What it does mean is you’ve taken the time to make sure you haven’t created something that has already been created. The important thing is that your logo makes sense for your business and is as original as possible. If you don’t have an original logo the same will be assumed of your business.
Following these few tips can help you on your way to creating something much more than a decent logo. A decent logo can say “I’m doing things well”. A great logo will say “I know what I’m doing and I’m doing it right!”.
Stay tuned for the next blog What does your logo say about you? Insight THREE: My logo says “I communicate well”