A logo is a graphic emblem that represents your brand and therefore your small business. A logo is the shorthand that immediately identifies your small business among a sea of competition.
A logo is not a brand name. A logo is representative of your brand name. Where your brand name can exist in a verbal or written form, a logo can only exist as a graphic.
A good logo can become great over time. Logos can evolve, as long as they stay true to the heritage of your brand and maintain the unique point of difference of your small business.
The 3 Essentials Your Logo Must Conquer
Creating a logo is tough. Capturing the rational and emotional essence of your brand in a small graphic is not easy, but it is possible. Here are the three essentials your logo must conquer:
1. Your Logo Must Be Memorable
Although reports vary, if the most conservative estimates are believed, we’re exposed to over 250 advertisements each day (other reports say up to 3,000 per day). This constant stream of communication numbs our senses and turns most of us into passive viewers. Your small business logo needs to stand out among this clutter. Think of your positioning and where your logo is to be seen. A strong simple bold logo is more likely to rise above the chatter and leave an impression. An involved cursive logo that requires concentration and deciphering is more likely to be overlooked.
Don’t make it hard for customers. Don’t be too clever. Have impact.
2. Your Logo Must Be Effective Across All Applications
Think of every area your small business logo will touch. This may include:
- Products and packaging
- External signage
- Office stationery
- Business cards & invoices
- Local sponsorships
Your logo must be able to effectively represent your small business brand name wherever it is shown. Whether it’s large or small, full colour or black and white. A great logo will still have significant presence wherever it is placed.
3. Your Logo Must Be Relevant To Your Brand and Industry
Revisit your small business positioning and your small business unique selling point. Your logo needs to capture and reaffirm why customers should do business with you. A logo should also be somewhat indicative of the industry that your small business operates in.
This does not mean your logo must be overly obvious. E.g not every dentist’s logo must show a shiny tooth, nor does every plumber’s logo need to show a leaking pipe. Your small business’ logo just needs to be reflective and harmonious with your business category. If you choose to ignore this rule, your small business will have to work extra harder to overcome confusion. And isn’t small business difficult enough?
Examples of Great Logos
A great logo is one that excels at all the above criteria. Here are some of my favourites:
The Coca-Cola logo captures the fun and exciting nature of the coke a cola brand. It has a bold red colour, strong heritage value and a design that easily stands out from the crowd. Although the cursive flowing font is difficult to read, we recognise the brand instantly. We’ve grown up with it. Our parents and grand parents have grown up with it. You may not a soft drink fan, but I bet first one you’ll name is Coke.
The Harley Davidson logo captures the original and historic feel of the Harley Davidson brand. It’s solid and looks like an association logo, further emphasising that you’re part of a club that has a rich history. No other motorcycle brand comes close to the strength of the Harley Davidson brand. Harley Davidson is the original tough motorcycle brand. It’s logo is a testament to this reputation.
The Nike logo captures the competitive, strong nature of the brand. It’s a single colour black logo with a positive swoosh. The logo was actually developed by a graphic designer for $US35. Both the name ‘Nike’ and the swoosh are registered trademarks, hence the reason for the two registered trademark symbols. When you think of Nike, the phrase ‘Just do it’ springs to mind. The logo’s simple positive-tick reinforces its winning attitude.
The Federal Express logo captures the fast and reliable nature of the Federal Express brand. It’s a no nonsense logo in capital letters. It’s even been abbreviated to FedEx to make it quicker to say. Everyone knows that red ones go faster… and that’s the message that this brand wants to communicate. It delivers things fast without hassle. Look carefully and you’ll also see a forward pointed arrow.
The Tiffany & Co logo captures the iconic and stylish nature of the Tiffany brand. It’s classic and formal yet understated. Nothing gets in the way of indulgent beauty. Looking at the logo you half expect Audrey Hepburn to enter the scene at any moment and ask you out for breakfast. And that breakfast would be eaten with on fine China and every guest would wear exquisite gloves which elegantly ended at your elbow.
Firstly, I don’t claim that the Small Business Planned logo is in the same league as the logos mentioned above. However it was designed with the above criteria in mind.
The three rocks symbolise the three critical areas of any small business owner; you’re your family/friends and your small business itself. The balancing of the stones represents the difficulty all small business owners face in juggling their priorities. Just one small move and the whole structure can fall down.
The font used is large for impact and quite modern looking, to give more relevance to my brand.
What’s your favourite logo and why?
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An interesting post David. Logo design is something I am grappling with at the moment. Or should I say something which is kind of sitting on the backburner at the moment.
A great logo definitely helps conjure up an image of a brand, and I think you are right in saying it is important that logos are both striking and easy decipher, otherwise they risk getting lost in the daily deluge of information that most of us face.
.-= Tom McEwin´s last blog ..How to get a ClickBank Refund =-.
One of my favourite logos is the National Geographic logo with the yellow frame. National Geographic is a magazine based on interesting and adventurous stories accompanied by fantastic photographs. Having the yellow frame in their logo gives constant reference to their focus on amazing photography.
.-= Karen´s last blog ..Online Education Course Providers – Top 5 Tips to Find the Right One =-.
Thanks Tom & Karen.
Good luck with your quest for a logo Tom. I will provide more technical advice on logos in the coming weeks. This advice will build on the fundamental building blocks listed above.
Karen I agree that the National Geographic logo is a winner. Very simple. Very bold and it stays true to its origins. The yellow rectangle is also iconic and easily recognised round the world. It helps to have a television channel to promote it though
A Most interesting topic. As with anything compact, precise and efficient the simplicity belies extraordinary application of many complexities. Art is an amazing thing, as is self-expression. Now that I have read your descriptions – I am starting to see better. Thanks for your insights.
.-= Jo Carey-Bradshaw´s last blog ..Empowering Mindset – Imagination =-.
I like the Apple logo because it’s one of those logos that no matter what colour or texture it is, it is still immmediately recognisable as Apple. The fact that it’s found throughout the net in these various guises also, for me, highlights their innovative and creative attitude.
.-= Colin´s last blog ..Wealth and Success =-.
Really liked your comment “Don’t make it hard for customers. Don’t be too clever. Have impact.”
It is a difficult decision for any business to come up with a logo. I know that from my other two businesses and being involved in the decision. Once you have decided though, you need to really push it, as you say.
I like the apple logo too.
Thanks for the read!
.-= Eileen´s last blog ..Chronic headaches =-.
Yeah of course Apple logo is one of the most memorable ones. I would add IBM logo to the list tho… It surely stands out… In fact checkout the work of Paul Rand as he created both of them
I was really amazed with his work
I think you’ve made some interesting generalisations about logos. But surely that’s well known Janet and John stuff for almost everyone in business.
The points you make about the logos in your case studies though mostly reflect BRANDS not logos, and they’re not the same thing as you probably know.
If you came to me today and suggested the Coca Cola logo for my new line of non alcoholic beverages, I’d tell you it was overly fussy, old fashioned and not great work (did you know it was created by a Pharmacist?) When it was created it didn’t capture the fun of anything, it was for a tonic drink and the typography just easy to do for a non specialist to write freehand I suspect.
The familiarity and personality is a consequence of the advertising surely far more than the logo!!!
Similarly the FedEx logo. I’m afraid to me it looks fairly solid and robust, much more than fast and reliable… and I’m not colour blind either. Your FedEx logo’s purple and orange and the corporate one’s currently Purple and Grey. Nothing in that colour choice about being faster than anyone else David…
The best advice to any business owner looking to commission a new logo is to find a design company that understands BRAND strategy and positioning and that does great design work as well. They’re a very rare beast in my experience.
Thanks Jo, Colin & Eileen. The Apple logo is a good example of an iconic logo. I also like the fact it has a chunk taken out of it – indicating that like Adam & Eve it likes to be at the forefront of perhaps risky ventures.
Thanks also for your comments John. True, the observations I made are quite general, but they are building blocks that must be understood before further knowledge can be layered over the top. The examples I gave showed how logos reflected the brand personality – not vice versa. FedEx has a number of logos, depending on its division. Assessing logos is subjective and I stand by my observations. I entirely agree with you about finding a designer who understands brand strategy and positioning.
Wow! You pack so much fantastic information into each post. I learn something new every time I drop by.
I agree with Eileen that this was a great comment. “Don’t make it hard for customers. Don’t be too clever. Have impact.” It’s definitely great advice.
That’s a nice tips for logo design, your tips is very helpful those who want to be logo designer, after read it, can make a good logo design,
It is very good and informative ! Thanks for sharing nice information.
The brand image and corporate identity can be built up with a well thought and well defined logo. The objective behind the creation of a logo is to develop recognition whether it is your brand or name. Depending upon the uniqueness of the business the logos can be categorized into three types: Text, Symbol and Combination.
.-= Design Services´s last blog ..Logo Design =-.
Great tips! Logos can be very hard to design, but it is essential to get them right.