The right business logo is arguably the most important element available to represent a business, especially in today’s online world, where first impressions are everything. Designing the right business logo is often the first step in properly branding a company and its products.
The company logo becomes an integral, indelible aspect of a company’s identity within its markets. A company’s logo creates the first impression people will have of the business. It’s the most important graphic image a company owns, one that summarizes and represents the business – to employees, partners and most importantly of all, to customers. A well designed business logo is an unmistakable sign of a company’s strength, its self-image, the scope of its services and the kind of products it offers.
A logo is a typographical mark intended to convey not only the name of a company, but also its character and its values. It typically consists of a high-quality graphic image that will be used to represent the company in most everything that it does throughout most of the company’s life (since companies rarely change or update their logos).
While spending a lot on developing and testing a new business logo is something large companies have invested in heavily for many years, you don’t have to spend a lot to get a commodity, “custom logo” designed these days. In fact, anything above $500 dollars for a business logo is probably considered having paid too much – assuming you already know fundamentally what you need that logo to say about your company…
On the other hand, if you want to add the full complement of value to your logo, you’d better plan on hiring someone to do more up-front planning and analysis, then do the graphic design part last.
A great business logo is a small investment for the ability to convey such an important, powerful message about your company, its values and what it stands for, quickly and succinctly. However, what matters most in a logo’s design is determining how best to represent your company, and what kind of activities you want that logo to spawn within your viewer’s mind.
There are lots of options to choose from in terms of logo graphic design elements, but it’s critically important for you to think carefully about what you want to emphasize most through your company logo. Once this has been adequately examined and is well understood, only then are you truly ready to consider graphic representation options for the logo.
For a logo to be maximally effective, it’s critically important for it to be both memorable and simple. There’s something amazing about the human mind where images and pictures are concerned. Our brains are wired and optimized for rapid “image processing”. Our brains are extremely efficient at storing and recalling images.
Feed the right image to a person’s brain, and it’s often either instantly accepted or rejected. If it’s accepted, it’s associated with other memories that can add value (or detract value).
In fact, our minds are so adept at processing pictures, we often express text and verbal thoughts in ways that “paint pictures”, which are more effective at conveying our thoughts and intentions to others. It’s the same with a logo. A logo is really just a small picture that we want others to see, quickly process and grasp, and then relate directly to other memories that are already stored in the viewer’s mind. It’s these associative links in the viewer’s mind where the gold mine is to be found.
I call this the “logo linking” process, whereby the person viewing the logo actually associates the graphical image the logo portrays to many other existing memories, and in a flash, the logo is instantly and almost permanently committed to the viewer’s memory. Better yet, the viewer has tagged that new memory with other attributes that are retrieved from other, existing memories.
Let’s consider a familiar example. The famous Chili’s restaurant updated their company logo a few years ago. Instead of being primarily text-based, there’s now a small green chili pepper that’s a part of Chili’s logo and other elements of their marketing. The chili pepper is easily recognized by most people, and it carries with it various memories (spicy, good-tasting, etc.). Most importantly, it makes the logo and company’s name memorable.
After multiple exposures to this kind of memorable logo, people can often describe it in quite some detail. So, there’s a lot more to logo design than just choosing which graphical image to use, along with an agreeable font for the company name. If we want our logo to be remembered and to represent the company well, a lot of planning and forethought is actually needed. This is where a lot of the logo value creation takes place.
So, it’s our logo viewer’s associative memory that we’re really targeting – the ability to leverage associating one image with other, related images and memories – that’s really powerful stuff. The ability to choose the right graphical image that fires a whole series of memory synapses in our viewer’s mind is what really causes a logo to have its full impact, lighting up that logo in the darkest of all places – the viewer’s mind.
Of course, this is what happens when a logo is first well researched and properly conceived conceptually, and then finally graphically designed and refined. Too often logo projects get thrown to a bunch of graphic designers, who unfortunately don’t really understand a company’s business, what matters to their customers and most importantly, what matters most to the intended logo viewer.
Unfortunately, the end result is a great opportunity that has been missed – a situation that will likely remain amiss for many years to come, since most companies change their logos very rarely and become used to what they have.
When we consider how many millions of impressions a typical company logo receives over its many years of use, it’s no wonder why it’s so important to get it right the first time. Yet it’s surprising how little thought often goes into the logo “specification” phase – what takes place before the actual graphic design occurs.
Our logos will end up on business cards, stationary, marketing collaterals, websites, in emails, on PowerPoint presentations, on fax cover sheets, invoices – to name just a few of the most common places a company logo is typically found.
When we consider the profound impacts a business logo has on the ultimate success of a company and how enduring that impact is, it becomes clear how important this kind of decision actually is. Unfortunately, many business startups are in such a hurry to execute on all the other critical tasks required to start the business, proper attention to the logo doesn’t rate very high on the list.
The impacts of a company logo is something that’s very hard to measure accurately, but experts seem to agree that the company logo is the cornerstone of proper branding.
So, the next time you look at a company logo, whether it’s your own or someone else’s, it’ll be interesting to note what you really see. Do you see a company filled with spirit, vigor and having a bright future? Or do you instead see just another graphical image that someone checked off their list one day?