Many people think choosing a logo for their business is as easy as coming up with a picture for their Facebook profile. It’s got to be okay if it looks pretty or edgy enough, right? That’s where most people make a crucial mistake.
Choosing a logo takes much, much more than just getting a pretty image. Your logo serves as your identity to the public, helping define how people perceive your brand. Just like how Apple’s bitten namesake has become synonymous with innovation and modernity, your logo should serve as a reminder of your brand, as well as its character, values, and potential. This makes your logo one of the most indispensable marketing tools at your disposal, which also means you need to devote time and actual resource to create one that’s right for your brand.
There are three basic types of logos you can use, each with its advantages:
1. A logotype or “word mark” turns your company name into your logo using a creative font style. Brands that employ this type include Sony, Coca Cola, Prada, CNN, and Dell. Logotypes are very easy to recognize but can be illegible when in smaller sizes.
2. An icon or symbol uses an uncomplicated image to represent the brand. They could be literal, such as Shell and Apple’s logos, or abstract, as in the case of the WWF, Nike, Chanel, or NBC’s logos. Though not instantly recognizable to first-time viewers, they are easy to reproduce in small sizes and promote strong brand recall.
3. A combination logo combines the two aforementioned types. Some common examples are the Starbucks, McDonalds, adidas, and Pringles logos. Many of these logos separate or combine their components depending on their size, such as when McDonalds drops the name and settles for just the double arches when depicted in limited spaces.
Once you have decided on the type of logo you want, it’s time to decide on your logo’s elements as they apply to your chosen type. These will have an impact on the kind of impression your customers will form of your brand.
- Font. Your main goal should be to use a font style that is legible no matter the size of the logo. Keep in mind that different variations have particular effects. Thick fonts (think FedEx and NASA) convey power, making them great for emphasizing your brand’s reliability. Slanted or fluid fonts (think Disney or Ray-Ban) convey motion and versatility, perfect for highlighting your brand’s adaptability. Serif fonts (think Gap) look traditional, classic, and timeless, while sans serif ones (think Facebook and Twitter) look clean, modern, and fun.
- Color. Your logo’s color serves more than just aesthetics. Different colors have varying meanings: red is exciting, yellow is warm, green is peaceful, blue is dependable, purple is imaginative, orange is confident, white is clean, and black is mysterious. Your customers may also have specific preferences. For example, KISSmetrics found that women are less fond of achromatic colors (black, gray, and white) than men and women prefer soft colors while men liked bright hues. If you are looking to use several colors in your logo, three is the ideal maximum and similar hues (blues and purples, yellows and greens) are best liked. If you want to use an accent, use one that highly contrasts your main palette.
To help you choose the elements that will go into your logo, you need to answer the following questions:
1. Who is your target market? Your logo needs to appeal to your intended audience, so make sure that it contains elements appropriate for your chosen demographic. For example, Twitter caters to casual users who want a quick source of information. The nature of its community is well represented by its highly informal-looking logo—a light blue bird and the company name in rounded font, first letter not capitalized. When you put your market into account, you create a logo that creates an instant connection with your intended audience and that is never a bad thing.
2. Who are your competitors? There are two reasons to do this. First, you’d want to know what the rest is doing so you can stand out. While your peers are opting for clichéd, sunrise-inspired graphics, go outside the box and create something that resonates with your market while looking unique and cutting edge. You’d want to be known as the brand with the logo—and products and services—that are a step above the rest. Second, you’d want to know why your competitors’ logos tick and how you can make them work for you. Study the principles behind the successful logo, apply them to your own, and add your own touch. Even Pablo Picasso said “Good artists copy; great artists steal.”
3. How do you want your customers to react? Determine which reaction you want to evoke from your customers. Do you want them to be amazed, enlightened, or confused? By employing the right combination of colors, graphics, and font styles, you can affect the way they think or perceive your brand. For example, McDonalds uses the colors red and yellow not just because they’re highly visible, but also because they inspire sensations like energy and warmth, almost like how you feel after you’ve eaten a good meal.
4. What is your tagline? If you have any tagline for your brand, you can incorporate it into your logo. Doing so can enhance the logo’s effectiveness. Think of LG’s tagline “Life’s Good” which appeared in many of the company logo’s iterations. “LG” stands for “Lucky Goldstar,” of course, but that has never stopped many consumers from associating the acronym with the tagline and its feel-good message.
Your logo is a fundamental part of your identity. It will shape how consumers react to your brand and your efforts to engage them. That said, it is best to leave the designing to professionals, especially if you have had no prior experience as a designer. This means additional costs, but the price is worth it if it means getting spared from the effects of an ill-conceived logo.
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