What Does Your Logo Say?
Well, here we are. Now that you’ve read through the previous posts, I hope you have it solid that a brand foundation needs to be built before we get to the ‘fun stuff’. (Let me know if you think this is fun after reading.)
You see now that you can’t just jump out of the bushes with an iconographic and have people understand – or remember – your business. Messaging, and communicating your mission, have to go hand-in-hand with your visual identity.
Logos are of course very essential in getting a visual identity going that is going to increase your brand memorability – on the packaging, on the signage, on your collateral. It needs to be unique (which is getting harder), it needs to reflect your palette (in color, typeface and slogan if you’re including one), and it needs to reflect your vibe (sassy, serene, bold, joyful, etc.). It can’t stand alone to represent your brand, but folks aren’t going to be able to ascertain your story and philosophy by just looking at your logo.
If you take care in your crafting of it, and are able to explain the Brand Elements you have in place to your designer, the logo may indeed ‘stand for’ your brand in shorthand.
Where to start?
You see in the logo set above, that there are about seven different types of visual representation of a brand-mark. My own opinion is that a brand mark needs to be very strong before going to the illustrated Abstract or Pictorial mark. That other stuff needs to be so . . . dominant, and well-rehearsed, that the mark instantly brings to mind the type of product and its story. Even Pepsi did not have just an Abstract mark back in the day, but the brand is so ubiquitous now that it can let an Abstract mark do all the talking. (Apple always did have just a Pictorial mark, but then, Steve Jobs.)
The others you can decipher from studying them. And it’s possible that with good typography, you may be able to have a lettering (Wordmark) as a logo and have it do the work of a more pictorial mark.
Here are some things to consider when building your visual identity:
1. Visual symbols. You want people to tie your product or service directly to an identified brand element.
You want to take care that your visual icon doesn’t reflect your personal tastes, unless it is so tightly woven into your product that the buyer can identify the product without getting confused. For instance:
If you make wine, and have bees in your logo (we know bees don’t pollinate wine grapes) because you have some story about how bees were under your barn when you set up the vineyard, that’s going to be weak. Because wine + bees may make people think you make Mead, or honey wine. And you would have to go to extra lengths to undo that association in the minds of your buyers.
If you’re an attorney, but you really love butterflies and the color purple, the first response to your butterfly logo will be ‘huh?’, because there’s no way to associate your serious law practice with lovely feminine things.
Often the association of a logo appeals to the experience the buyer will want to expect, so in this instance, you want to reach outside of your favorite things box and appeal to your market.
I’m not trying to make you less creative, but to convey that a logo should represent a balance between your voice ‘n vibe, and a memorable appeal to your audience.
2. Typography. The lettering that most communicates your voice.
Overwhelmed? In a hurry? Then let’s get to typeface choices, because it’s okay to start with just that, and have it represent your business name while you dial in the visuals. Check out the Google Fonts library, just to get a feel for serif (letters with feet), sans-serif (without feet), script, and other creative twists to typography. Then you can incorporate it with a logo when it’s ready.
You’ll see ‘tones’ in the typography styles: authoritative, whimsy, clever, serene. Find a few that speak to you, and will speak to your most likely buyers, and try them out with your designer.
3. Colour. A palette that speaks your vibe.
We’ve all heard the color associations: blue = trust, green = plant or purity, yellow = energy and positivity, red = vibrance and boldness. Feel free to stray from these – they are not absolutes.
You may want to play with combinations, which is great. I personally would limit it to three: a warm, a cool, and a neutral (grey, brown, black); but again, these are not absolutes. More than anything you want an attention-getting combination that reflects your likes (since you will be using it often), an echo of your product (feminine, masculine, strong, zen), and a communicator (your neutral or grounding color, used for lettering, divider lines, ® marks.
4. Unique Style. Your logo needs to be unique.
In a crowded marketplace, this is getting harder and harder to do, and your designer should be researching logos and logo trends constantly, so the work you put into your logo design doesn’t end up looking like someone else’s. Not only is this inconvenient for you and confusing to your audience, but you could wind up in court over it. Best to avoid that.
5. Logo Detail. Head of a nickel.
Back in the day, the adage was that your logo should be clearly visible in black & white (grey & white) on a canvas the size of a nickel. Since logos are getting more detailed, with additional type, and NOT clear the size of a nickel, some are turning to icons that will represent their brand in a small space. This isn’t a requirement, but if your brand is emerging, you may want to talk this over with your designer.
5. Slogan or No Slogan?
Many brands have a slogan that must appear with every instance of the logo, but most do not. Slogans are not permanent. McDonald’s has changed their slogan dozens of times in the last several decades. If you feel you need some extra clarity for your brand – especially if it’s new – think about including a slogan (“Hand-harvested Honey”, “The Best Hemp Kombucha”, “Never a Dog Bite”) to your logo use. It doesn’t have to be permanent, but used at first it might boost your presence and educate your audience. A thought.
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Work with your designer on each of these; get her advice from her knowledge of identity design. Make sure she provides you with a style sheet that shows your mark, your colors (and Pantone/HEX codes), your chosen typeface and a slogan (possibly in a secondary font).
Make sure she includes the ‘rules’ about its use – whether the slogan must accompany the logo, the size of the typeface in relation to the brand mark, when a black & white representation can be used – all that stuff.
I wish you well on your branding journey. You have learned much, and putting it into practice for your company will strengthen, well, lots of things. Your team solidarity. Your ‘raison d’être’. Your outside style. Now you have the tools to make your brand not only successful, but solid.
Grace Studio offers branding workshops for small-to-mid-sized companies and entrepreneurs. We also offer identity design. Check out our page on Branding and give us a shout if you’d like to consult with a brand designer.