For a designer, a company logo is an exciting challenge.
It must represent many different aspects at once. It must be stand out and be memorable. It must have longevity and feel current. However, more than anything, it should make it clear to customers what your business offers them.
Because we are so bombarded by marketing today, and we are all familiar with big brands and their logos, you may think you can copy them and create a cool logo very easily.
Sometimes it can be tempting to try to do the logo design yourself. You may have a small concept or idea that seems to work. You may have shown it to a few people, who also like it.
However, while some people may have the skills, many people will make mistakes. Here are three critical mistakes many business owners make when first designing a new logo:
1) A logo is more than just an image
The small image that most people call a logo is officially known as a ‘logo mark.’ It is usually only half of the logo design. The other half is the words. Sometimes these are displayed decoratively, which is known as a logotype.
Even if you have a symbol that represents your company, it very often will be unrecognizable without some words next to it.
All the most popular brands in the world took years to be able to have just the image without words next to it.
For example, this was Nike’s first logo in 1971:
It took over 25 years of having the words and logo mark together before Nike was finally able to have just the ‘swoosh’ logo mark recognizable on its own.
A business often will have both a logo mark with words or a logotype. Words help bring meaning and context to the symbol. For a smaller brand or a new business, it is vital that you have both words and a symbol. Otherwise, people may not understand what you offer.
2) Your logo is not as obvious as you think
Many business owners who have designed their own logo feel very attached to it. To them, it makes a lot of sense, and they think that other people should ‘get it’ as well.
As a designer, one of the things you realize early is that not everyone is going to understand your creative designs. If you have a logo design that only makes sense to a few people, or you need to explain it first, then perhaps you should reconsider the design.
Make sure the imagery and symbols you choose links to your business in a clear way. Keep revising it or reworking it until you have something that people immediately understand.
3) Don’t try to be clever when you can be clear
The biggest temptation with logo design is to be clever. It can be surprising how often what you think is ‘clever’ is actually just really confusing.
In all cases, it is better to clear with your logo. If you have a coffee shop, try to stick to symbols that represent coffee, food or something in the same arena. If you work with pets, aim to keep the animal theme part of your design.
The more esoteric or conceptual you become, the fewer people will ‘get it.’ If they don’t get it, they won’t spend hours trying to figure it out. They will just move on.
If you genuinely feel like you have a good basic design for a logo mark or logotype, then it can make sense to ask a designer to rework or tweak your design.
A good designer can help you match colors and fonts and images to your overall brand. When it all comes together, you will see how much more impactful your logo can be.
There are many different aspects to branding, but your logo is the centerpiece and foundation for your brand. Take the time to create something that resonates, and if you are lucky, your logo may stand the test of time, like some of the best brands in the world.