5 Things to Know and Do Before Designing a LogoBy Chris Ward
We know that creating a brand can be a very detailed process. In many cases, creating your brand’s logo might be one of the key first steps in successful "visual brand" development.
The “visual brand” is the combination of visual elements that coexist, consistently, with the experience or product that your overall brand offers its audience.
A visual brand succeeds in doing its job when its logo works in concert with the verbal language and imagery to clothe the experience/product that your brand offers. The logo is one leg of the visual support system that your brand sits on.
Because the logo is an important part of this successful combination, how can you prepare your organization for a successful experience while developing a new or refreshed logo? Here are five things you and your organization need to know to help make that process more effective.
1. Know what purpose a logo serves.
The basic function of a logo is to serve as an element that identifies your organization. It can both precede your brand experience and also be a reminder of your brand experience. It is important to understand that a logo is not intended to BE your brand, nor is it intended to tell your entire story or exhibit ALL of your characteristics. It is a single tool in your brand’s toolbox. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your logo will do your work for you.
The world’s best brands don’t have recognizable logos just because the logos are awesome. They have recognizable logos because you’ve been convinced that their brand offers something better. You’ve been convinced through direct contact with their services, products or recommendations from those you trust, and this has shaped your perspective of their brand. And now that you have that perspective, their logo serves as a reminder of that which convinced you in the first place.
A logo can be empowered to do its job when it is tied to an unforgettable experience and clear messages. You can have the most glorious logo in the world, but if your brand only offers low-quality experiences and cannot speak to its audience clearly and in a relevant way, the logo will simply exist in vain.
2. Know where you are going to use your logo.
Before you dive into design, there is great benefit in knowing the potential for application. Knowing where your logo is to be used will help your creative professional visualize your potential logo designs in context so he or she can reassure you and explain to you the plans for each design’s use. There are some basic assumptions that can be made here (like website, business card, email signature) but if you are aware of any specific applications that you know you will need, that information can impact how we provide your designed options to you.
3. Identify your competition, their logos and visual brands.
It is always good to know what your competition is doing. Plus, when we see how they are -- or aren’t -- utilizing their visual brand, it gives us a chance to identify visual strategies that will set you apart in the landscape of your market. These days, brands are leaning more and more on their visual persona to reach audiences and define their value. More organizations are investing more assets in efforts that will separate themselves from their competition, and their visual brand and messaging are the fastest ways to make that impression on new audiences. Once we know what your competition is up to, we are experts at developing successful solutions that help you get where you want to go.
4. Know where your organization’s equity or value lies.
You might be in a situation where your organization is trying to establish itself, or one where it is already well known in your market. You may have a robust but stagnant audience, or you might not have even a single “Like” on Facebook. Either way, these points can impact how your logo needs to function.
Depending on your organization's position in its “business ecosystem”, it might make a bigger impact for you to visually emphasize the service or product you offer. On the other hand, you might be in a position where it makes sense to visually emphasize your name because of its uniqueness or existing name recognition.
Being prepared to explain the value that your organization offers or the equity it has been able to build within its community can equip us to provide logo options using practical visual formulas that will prepare your organization for success.
5. Decide on your “One Small Thing.”
A very good logo design will usually have some concept, connection or small meaning visually present.
When you are selling your brand and your “One Small Thing” is visually present in your logo, there is a chance that a savvy audience will make that connection. And, even more powerful, if someone has previously experienced your brand and sees your logo at a later date, there is a chance that they will make that connection as well. This hopefully will reinforce their unforgettable brand experience and create meaning where you want it to be; in your audience's minds and hearts.
To create your “One Small Thing”, decide on the specific, short (5-8 words) statement that isolates the most important, aspect, characteristic or thought/impression that you would want someone to walk away with if they only had limited exposure to your brand. Here are a couple of examples so you can visualize what we mean: “We have the most crispy chicken” or “We offer our patients the most personal experience.”
Having a logo designed can be a time filled with fun and discovery. You can witness in a tangible way part of a brand coming to life! I encourage you to be open to different directions than what you might have in mind. Also, remember that a logo won’t do your work for you and that it is only a single part of a successful visual brand strategy.