A logo design tells a story about your brand. What story does your logo tell?
A logo speaks for your company, your mission, and the values behind your company. What will your answer be when someone asks, “What does your logo stand for?” Let’s use an example to explore the options on how to answer this great question.
A: “We liked the cool, pretty swoosh because it seemed like a neat design.”
B: “The Nike swoosh is an abstract representation of the wings of the Goddess Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory.”
You can probably guess the company we are referring to there… So, let’s take a lesser known company.
Now, you might look at it and assume:
A: It’s just a nice, recognizable, creative design. Catchy. Patriotic.
However, the story behind the brand is really,
B: “The whip of the ‘A’ represents the financial road our company guides our clients down from beginning to end. The three colors represent our main areas of expertise- Comprehensive Planning, Small Business Investments, and Tax Preparation.”
Would you want to answer with A or B?
It’s your logo, you can decide what it means. Once you do, it’s time to get started. And designing a logo is quick and simple, right? Look at that Nike Swoosh. Couldn’t have taken long to create that, right? Think again.
Is it possible to whip together a logo design? Sure, and if you’re looking to answer with “A” about your design, you’d be fine. But if you’re looking to provide an answer like “B”, then real thought and talent is going to need to be given to your design. Your logo may end up as clean and simple as the iconic swoosh, but not before the effort of your strategic design to represent your story. Original ideas are developed, illustrated, reviewed and simplified, review and simplified, reviewed and… You get the idea.
So what does goes into a professional logo design? Here are just a couple of things to consider when considering the concept of your design.
1. Be unique and clever, without over thinking it.
Give thought to the meaning, but then let your mind guide you to the simple, clean and descriptive design to communicate that meaning. Remember to be different. Turn elements on their sides. Turn them inside out. Backwards. Try less. Try more. Try NOT incorporating the industry into the design. (…what does an ‘Apple’ have to do with computers?) Think more about the story, describe it, clean and simply. Understand the brand and story.
Yes, a professional logo is an image, but it’s more than that: It’s an introduction to the brand. Is the brand emotionally driven, or all about utility and function? Is it contemporary or traditional? Is it quirky and fun or serious and driven? What does the brand aspire to be? More than anything, it’s important to know what your logo means. Every logo should have it’s story.
Take that famous Apple, for instance. The fruit missing the “byte”. Do you know the story behind this incredible brand? Answers are rarely simple… CLICK HERE to read the amazing back story behind the Apple logo from CNN.
2. Color, is key.
I saw a truck a few weeks ago called “Something Design”. It was a very nice pick-up truck with a gorgeous full print application- in green. To this day, I have no idea what the company did. However, each time I saw that truck, I wanted to call them to do the landscaping for my lawn. The one thing I’m pretty sure they didn’t do was landscaping. …bummer.
Sometimes we want to be original. We want to go against the grain. Be different. Stand out. But, it’s still important to recognize that there are still associations that go along with certain design elements- such as COLOR. The company behind that truck may have been offering interior design or (hopefully not) graphic design. But because of their over use of the color green without an added focal-point descriptor to associate it with it’s correct industry, I’ll forever wonder what that company really did. (I did find out from my neighbor that he did NOT have landscaping done, but he never shared with me what type design they DID do. It still drives me insane.)
On the other end of the spectrum, we once had a landscaping company with a patriotic theme without ANY green in their design. It just didn’t “feel” right. But after a bit of prompting, we incorporated a fuller color scheme for the brand, updated the logo colors to coordinate, and suddenly the design fit perfectly with every marketing item from that point on.
Color is crazy expressionistic. Bright and bold colors may grab someone’s attention, but could come off a brash and too “in-your-face”. Muted tones communicate sophistication, but if not used right, could leave your logo or website overlooked. Finding the balance to communicate your message and story is key.
Here is a quick rundown of a general color communication:
- Red: energetic, sexy, bold
- Orange: creative, friendly, youthful
- Yellow: sunny, inventive, optimism
- Green: growth, organic, instructional
- Blue: professional, medical, tranquil, trustworthy
- Purple: spiritual, wise, evocative
- Black: credible and powerful
- White: simple, clean, pure
- Pink: fun and flirty
- Brown: rural, historical, steady
3. Keep it simple.
We touched on this before, about keeping your professional logo design clean, simple and recognizable. You want your logo to be interesting, but you don’t want your viewer to be agonizing over the design trying to figure it out. Amazon’s logo is one of my favorite samples. You know that familiar yellow arrow that looks like a smile. It’s fun, it’s cute, and it makes the design happy. Right? …It is also a clever representation that Amazon sells everything from A to Z.
4. Keep it flexible.
When keeping it flexible, make sure the design works for multiple applications. One layout won’t always work well for every space.
A solid brand will include a standard logo design that is used in a majority of all brand reproductions. This is the main logo design, which can be to whatever company brand standard they prefer: Vertical, Horizontal, Squared, Dark or Light Color Scheme.
It should also include alternate layout options for flexibility in reproduction needs. For instance, when the main logo design is a taller, simple layout, it could work fantastic for vertical business cards, letterhead, or even new company embroidered polo shirts, but an alternate horizontal layout would be used on a company truck vinyl, billboard, or website header.
When a main logo is a horizontal layout, a vertical or squared layout option of the design will come in mighty handy for profile images, sponsorship images, app icons, watermarks, and so on.
In addition to the orientation of a design, color flexibility of a logo is key for a strong brand identity. A logo might have a strong impact when displayed in full-color print, but what happens to the WOW factor when the design is copied in black and white? Can the design even be recognizable in one-color? Does the logo still look as good in white on a dark background as it did full-color? Future reproduction needs are incredibly important to consider while creating your design to ensure you’ll have an option for every unforeseen need.
A successful professional logo design tries to predict the unpredictable, and solve problems before they happen.
5. Don’t expect instant success.
Even the most famous and iconic logos of today took time to gain popularity. Even as the most amazing logo design with the perfect combination of elements, flexibility and communication, a design won’t become instantly iconic. It is important to be patient. Trust your marketing methods and give your efforts time to get your logo the recognition it deserves. Then, someday down the road, when someone asks you about your company and says “…so what does your logo mean?” you’ll be prepared with a thought-provoking and interesting answer that is sure to impress.
6. Get feedback. But not too much.
You want to be sure about your design. Not just sure, but SURE, sure. How do you know there wasn’t a better idea right around the corner? Will everyone else see what you see? Do they get your idea? Are the colors attractive to your audience, or just you?
It’s a great idea to get feedback on your logo design. It’s important to see a design from fresh eyes, different perspectives, and be considered by different mindsets. Still, it’s important to do so with a controlled group. Opening the forum to any bloke who crosses your path could quickly derail your decision-making progress. When bringing new opinions onboard an already-moving decision train, the new participants are likely to come with new questions, different preferences, and new ideas. We know you’re excited to show your mom, and your best friend is sure to be excited for you. But unless you want to catch them up on every reason for every decision you’ve made up until this point, it’s usually best to wait and include them on the excitement of the BIG REVEAL of the finalized design, which is the part they love anyway!
Your logo design is the foundation of your company brand. It can grow and update with you, speak for your services, speak to your markets, and what it says is up to you. Someday down the road, when someone asks you “…so what does your logo mean?”, you, too, can be prepared with a thought-provoking and interesting answer that is sure to impress.
Do you have a professional logo for your company with a great back story?
We’d sure love to hear it and any advice you have as other’s begin the wonderful adventure of building their brand!