The Logo – Your Company’s Visual Persona
The logo, that little doohickey that means so much. Your logo is an incredibly important part of your company’s marketing. Just think of everywhere it may appear – stationary, business cards, web sites, vehicles, signage, ads, brochures, packaging, billboards, uniforms and more. Although your logo isn’t your brand itself, it is the visual representation of it. People make conscious and unconscious judgments about your company in a split second based on how you choose to represent yourself and your company visually.
Logos are also referred to as identities, and with good reason. They are the visual persona of your company and are capable of conveying any message you want. Is your company humorous, trustworthy, fast, established and dependable, cutting-edge, high-end? A good logo will begin conveying your brand’s personality and attitude to prospects before they read a word of your copy. So, what would you like to say?
How can I tell a good logo from a bad one?
A good logo will represent you well now and in years to come. Longevity is an important aspect of logo design. A company’s logo should be unique, avoid imagery that is too literal. Just because you own a bakery doesn’t mean your logo should have a rolling pin in it. You may find such imagery very limiting as your company grows and changes over the years. You will be investing a lot of money in your logo over time. You may have letterhead, marketing materials, building signage, vehicle signage, uniforms and more that use your logo prominently. You’ll want to get it right the first time to avoid spending valuable marketing dollars re-branding down the line.
A logo needs to be well thought out and executed. A great logo will enhance your image and reinforce your branding message, directly contributing to the bottom line. A bad one will leave a lasting negative impression that will be difficult to overcome, and who needs another obstacle to overcome in today’s business climate?
So, how can you tell a good logo from a bad one? Evaluating a logo can be very subjective, but there are some qualities most good logos share. Start with the shapes involved, the cleaner and simpler the better. Even an all-type logo treatment is a shape at first glance. Overly-complicated, intricate logos are harder to recognize and remember. They are not effective in most signage applications. They are also harder to reproduce in some printing applications and will not reproduce well at small sizes – something all logos should be able to do. Simple, interesting designs will be the most effective. Avoid the latest design trends. The late 90’s was defined by the Swoosh Logo, everyone had to have some kind of arching swoosh in their logo. They became impossible to tell apart and differentiated no one. Right now the trend is fades, reflections and metallic looks. These logos will look dated in just a few years. The best logos appear to be timeless.
To properly evaluate a new logo you should first view it in black and white only. Color preferences are very subjective and shouldn’t be considered until the logo itself has been decided on. You could eliminate a great logo design just because you hate the color scheme. Once you have a strong, simple logo that possesses just the right attitude you want to convey, you can then feel confident moving on to color selection.
Your choice of corporate colors is just as important as the logo choice itself. Take the time to think ahead to all the current and likely future applications of your logo. You will probably want to use these colors, along with one or two complimentary ones, in all your marketing materials, your web site, vehicles, signage, etc. Making careful, informed decisions about color now will payoff in the future. You will most likely have to reproduce your corporate colors in spot colors (PMS), 4 color (CMYK), and web (RGB) applications. Picking colors that look good in all these situations will help you avoid potential headaches. Make sure your designer takes this into account.
The colors you select for your logo shouldn’t be based solely on personal preferences. Just because the V.P.’s wife hates green doesn’t mean that green isn’t the right color to convey your message. In order to overcome some of these personal color objections back up your choice with a little science. There are always trends in color that we see all around us, currently light blue and dark brown are favorites in home decor, just pick up a Pottery Barn catalog and you’ll see it. But, beyond trends, colors do have meanings associated with them, use those associations to your advantage.
Many companies find it helpful to have a memorable tagline or slogan that explains what their company does quickly and effectively when their name doesn’t make it instantly apparent. If you have a tagline make it part of your logo design project right from the start. Be sure to evaluate versions with and without the tagline to cover the various applications your logo will be used for.
Evaluating logo designs.
Choosing a new logo is an important process that deserves serious time and consideration. That being said, resist the temptation to overanalyze things. Keep the amount of people involved in the approval process to a minimum. The more people, the more opinions, suggestions and personal tastes will have to be taken into account. As the old saying goes “too many cooks spoil the broth”. Trying to please everyone will lead to over-compromising on the design which will result in a mediocre design everyone can live with, but no one really loves.
The best way to evaluate a logo is the way your customers will, with a quick glance at first. Avoid the temptation to stare at the designs and look for things to criticize. Feel free to get opinions from various people, but in the end, leave the final decision to a select few. When you’ve narrowed it down to one or two options mock-up some expected usages of your logo – ads, brochures, web sites, packaging. Seeing a logo design in context will help you evaluate its suitability for your company’s most important applications. Keep doing your best to remain objective when evaluating the logo. Remind the decision makers that it represents your company’s brand and objectives, not any one person, even if that person is the CEO (tread lightly, of course).
At the end of the process if the logo you’ve decided on is simple, clear, unique, functional for your applications and a good representation of your company’s persona, you’ve succeeded in navigating what can be a very stormy sea. Congratulations!