One of the most frequent question from startups is about the importance of logo design. I often hear people say; I don’t want to invest that much in a logo because it isn’t that relevant to my business. I need to invest in all kinds of things and spending a lot of money on a logo seems dumb.
A logo is like the shorthand narrative of your brand. Instead of a sentence, it is often a visual depiction of the story you want to tell. It serves as a reminder that of all the companies that are in a category, you are the one that is special and different. Symbols, colors and short supporting taglines all work together to communicate that message.
But logos don’t need to cost a lot of money to create, and if you follow a few basic steps, I think you can achieve your goals for a reasonable fee.
- Your Name Matters. If you are starting a business, the name of that company should telegraph your story. Whole Foods is a great example when you want to convey an authentic message. Amazon is a great name to tell the story of the world’s largest river and everything from A to Z. It is a metaphor for what you offer. A made-up word or foreign word can also help like Uber or Google. You can’t get a logo created without having a name. There are companies (and consultants like me) who do naming work if you need help figuring out a clever name for your business or brand. Think about the benefit or job your business will do for someone. Terminix is a company that will terminate your bug problem.
- Write a paragraph about your business that explains who you are, what you do and why you are different from others in your field. Don’t worry about the words and grammar, focus on an accurate description that avoids platitudes like we offer the best quality and service. Go deeper and express why someone would buy from you versus others. Maybe you deliver in half the time of your competitors. Maybe your workforce is made up of immigrants from Syria. Maybe your technology solves a very frustrating problem for a select audience. Be specific.
- Now, write a sentence that expresses what you have said in that paragraph. Reduce it down to just the most essential words. Make sure you use the phrase or idea of Only We. (Only we deliver pizzas in thirty minutes, or it’s free). Let the sentence be the shorthand version of the real value you bring to your customers. It can be ethereal – We bring good things to life. Or it can be functional – guaranteed overnight delivery or your money back.
- Now write a phrase. See if you can articulate the idea in just a few words. Don’t worry if it sounds awkward or odd; you can refine it later. Just look for a few powerful words that help express the core power of what you offer. If you are a restaurant that takes regular and traditional dishes and makes them special, maybe your short phrase that we turn ordinary into the extraordinary.
- Now find your word. Pick just one word that describes your value proposition and essence. Maybe that word is speed or accuracy or relentless or safe. This one-word matters as it will help a graphic designer figure out how to depict your story. It can be a smart play on a word. For one of my clients Nomaco makes engineered foam, we took the word transformation and turned it into transFOAMation™ since they transfoam foam into innovative solutions. Clever, right? We even trademarked the phrase.
- Create a list of images that conjure up the essence of what you do. Maybe you run a networking group and offer connectivity. A braid or image of things intertwined might come to mind. Maybe you make the world’s strongest coffee, so a skull and crossbones are part of your brand persona. If you are a window cleaning company, perhaps an image has to do with bringing clarity and focus to the outdoor. So your image could be a cloudy, hazy window where the center has become clear, and you can see outside. Or, if you are an eye doctor, maybe the traditional eye chart is a starting point for what you do, but since you serve a particular population (Spanish-speaking customers), the chart spells out a message in Spanish.
- Pick colors that communicate how you want people to feel. If you are marketing a rose wine, pick pink. If you are selling an environmentally friendly cleaning product, maybe blue and green are key. If you are in the business of stopping crime, perhaps red (like a stop sign) makes sense. Owning a color that supports and reinforces your story is very valuable.
- Find a graphic artist. Now that you have thought through the paragraph, sentence, phrases, word, image, and color, sit down with a designer and talk through this with them. Give them as much of this in writing as possible. In the world of marketing, this is called a brief, that gives the designer a lot of relevant information to help you tell this story. The designer can give you several concepts that articulate the name of the business, a font that fits the feeling you want to convey, images that might serve to tell your story and a color to evoke a feeling.
My friend Jeff Lawson is a great person to reach out to if you want someone who can create logos for very reasonable prices. You’ll save money if you come prepared so he can visually interpret your story. Connect with Jeff at Cowan Designs. We have created dozens of original logos and brand marks together over the last decade, and the cost was always reasonable for the quality of his work.
The goal is to have a logo that communicates the story you want to convey. Since it will be the shorthand for your company, it is a vital step in launching a brand.
Does your brand tell your story?
Need seasoned advice from a marketing sage? I can help with creating a name, brand or logo and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Call me at 919 720 0995 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: Gizmodo