A logo is the imagery you think of when you think about a brand. By definition, it’s a combination of text and graphics that represent a business. But a logo does much more than that.
In Logo Design Love, David Airey tells us that “people often choose products based on their perceived value rather than their actual value.” That’s the ultimate power of strong branding, which is built around the organization’s logo.
While artistic elements can be incorporated, a logo should not be considered art. A Vincent Van Gogh painting may speak to you and inspire emotion. But what you should be focusing on is the artist’s signature in the bottom corner. Without that signature, Van Gogh’s name would be unknown.
A logo is really a strategic business tool. The way you go about planning and designing a logo should always have the business’s interest as a priority. It’s the foundation of your branding strategy, product/service perceived value, and communication with your customer base.
A company without a logo is like a person without a face.
It doesn’t mean much if you personally like your logo.
You don’t get a logo made for yourself. You get a logo that’s made for the customer and the business. Why is this distinction so important? It makes sense if you think about it. Just like any other aspect of your business, you are trying to appeal to your customers. Your business is their business.
Of course, you want to feel good about your logo and your brand. But you must understand that falling in love with your logo, especially at first sight, is a very rare thing.
It’s very common for business owners to believe that they already have a great logo. They can easily get caught up in the design and aesthetics while forgetting the importance of their logo’s functionality.
Maybe they designed it themselves and they’re proud of that fact. Maybe they think their logo says everything the customer needs to know. Or maybe they don’t see their logo as such an important piece of their business, so they’d rather not spend any more time on it.
To quote Sagi Haviv, a prominent New-York based graphic designer, from a YouTube interview in 2018; “A logo is not communication. A logo is identification.”
Haviv and his partners have produced some of the most iconic logos that we know today. The National Geographic, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), and the Armani Exchange logos are a few examples of their work. Haviv and his partners believe that a good logo is not about what you like, but is instead about what works.
Your logo doesn’t need to list your services or explain your products. Some of the worst logos out there are designed with communication as the goal. They become very text-heavy and the graphics themselves are complex and overwhelming to the viewer.
What makes a logo great is its universal functionality as an identifier. It has very little to do with your personal preference.
The ultimate reason why your business needs a logo is for its identity. It’s safe to say that most people identify with something. Whether it’s race, religion, nationality, or a brand preference; identity plays a crucial role in our behavior as people.
We stated earlier that logos are not art, and that they are instead a strategic business tool. The most important goal of this strategic business tool is to create an identity. This identity will set you apart from competitors and leave an imprint in the minds of your consumers.
If you gave your customers a blank sheet of paper, they should be able to draw a rough sketch of your logo from memory. Now, obviously, this is not an exercise you should do with your current customers. They may think it’s weird. But the point is your logo should be simple enough to be remembered, even only after just a few glances.
There are other things a logo can and should do, but they are not at the top of the list. Things like attractive design and communication should be at the bottom of that list. When getting a logo designed, you should ask yourself some questions (in this order).
- Does it identify my business? Is it different from other logos in my industry?
- Is it simple enough to be remembered? Is it simple enough to replicate for multiple uses?
- Am I pleased with the aesthetics of the design?
Now, the specific order of the questions matters. Most people will prioritize question number 3, and some won’t even ask questions 1 and 2. This is the biggest mistake business owners can make during the process of logo design.
Is a Flag a Logo?
Imagine if the United States (or any country for that matter) didn’t have a national flag. How confused would we feel without the stars and stripes of red, white and blue? This question brings up a very interesting topic, which we believe exemplifies the necessity of a logo.
Why does every country on earth have a national flag? There are 195 different flags in existence for the 195 countries in existence on this planet. The flags themselves are considered to be national symbols.
Historically, at first, flags were primarily used for a military purpose. It was important to discern your enemy from your friend on the battlefield, but it was also important to identify yourself to others. The formula that came about was to use three colors — not enough to overwhelm but just enough to be different. They also needed to be simple in design in order to be replicated easily, as this was done by hand at the time. Over time, flags began to be used as property markers. A flag would indicate that this territory belongs to that group of people.
So what have we learned from this quick history lesson? Flags exist because people needed to identify with something visual that was simple and easy to replicate, but still unique from other flags.
Logos are like modern day flags. Or we should say that flags fall under the umbrella of logos.
The need to identify is also rooted in competition, which is the basis of a free market economy. This army versus that army, his soccer team versus her soccer team, your product versus their product — competition is a major driver for identity.
The other is its functionality as a property marker. Marking land with a flag is very similar to branding your products with a logo, which leads us to our next point.
You Can Brand Anything With a Logo
From websites to business cards, coffee mugs to bumper stickers, the possibilities are endless when you have a great logo. If you have a good logo, you should use it wherever you can. The more impressions (number of times your customers see it), the more memorable your brand will be.
If your logo follows the guidelines we’ve discussed in a previous blog post, this should be easy to do. On the other hand, if your logo is complex or text-heavy, you will be limited in the number of ways you can use it.
Sagi Haviv indicated that a logo is for identity, not communication. But you can use other aspects of marketing to communicate your business. Flyers, emails, taglines, etc… can all be used to communicate to your audience. There are a vast majority of digital marketing tools you can use to do this. But the common denominator that identifies all of these communications is your logo. The marketing material communicates, while your logo identifies.
Why Do I Need a Logo?
It’s probably very clear now that identity is the real reason why you should have a logo. It’s just one piece, albeit an important piece, of a bigger marketing puzzle.
Your logo doesn’t need to explain your business. And you don’t have to love your logo for it to be great.
Your logo should be a unique identifier for your business in your industry. It’s a strategic business tool. It should be simple enough to be remembered by your customers— this is the number one goal of a logo.
A good logo will make it easier to tell stories and make meaningful connections with customers. Think of some of the most iconic logos and the stories they tell, such as McDonald’s Golden Arches, Coca-Cola’s Spencerian script typeface, or Nike’s swoosh. Each one evokes very distinct emotions and tells its own story. This, of course, comes after years of success through productive marketing campaigns and brand strategy.
Over time, with a strategic marketing plan, your logo will influence customer decisions. In combination with your brand strategy, your logo will trigger emotion by capturing a feeling that your customers will share, regarding your business.
The good news is that your logo doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. There’s no reason for any business not to have a good logo. It should be one of the first things you do when starting out or rebranding an existing business.
Are there any other reasons why a small business might need a logo? Let us know if we missed anything in the comment section below.