Jun 6, 2011
If you are a business owner, you need a good logo. If your current logo was created by an amateur artist, you probably don’t have one. And even if you did hire a professional graphic designer, you may be disappointed with the results.
A quality logo is probably the most undervalued asset in any company. Why is this so? Well, for one thing, good logos are usually quite simple. As we pointed out in a recent post, one of the most effective logos ever created is the Nike “swoosh,” a simple, solid shape which has helped to sell millions of dollars of sports apparel. Equally effective logos include the McDonald’s golden arches, the CBS “eye,” and the FedEx block letters.
So what makes these images so valuable to their companies? Perhaps asking a few simple questions will help us find the answer.
- When you see each of these graphic symbols, what comes to mind? Are they just simple shapes and colors, or do they carry with them powerful images, memories, attributes and ideals?
- Have you ever driven past the golden arches with a young child in the car? What was their reaction? What was your reaction to your child?
- When you need to ship something that “absolutely, positively has to get there over night,” what do you see when you close your eyes?
- Have you ever seen an advertisement, business card, website, business letter or package design that didn’t feature the company logo?
The best logos are simple, powerful, and under-appreciated by most people. But smart business owners don’t neglect them. They nurture their development, protect their integrity and keep them fresh. Nurturing their development means working closely with a quality professional designer to provide the input he/ she needs to create the best possible logo for you.
This doesn’t mean that you have to tell them what color to use, what fonts you like, or what shapes best communicate your ideas. You may provide this type of information, but it is often counter-productive, since it may conflict with the artist’s creative solutions. The kind if input which is most helpful to the designer is information about your company. What is your product or service? What do you do better than your competitors? What do you want your customers to think about you? In other words, your job as the client is to tell the designer what you want to communicate. The designer’s job is to find the best way to do it. The client then evaluates how well the designer has achieved this goal.
One of the most frustrating things for any graphic designer is to create a design which meets the creative goals which were set in the very first meeting, but when the client is presented with the finished product, he says, hmmmmmmm — I don’t know yet. Let me show it to my friends and family to see what they think. The design then gets passed around, criticized, altered and watered-down in order to meet the satisfaction of everyone involved. Unfortunately, satisfaction usually means that everyone becomes so tired of the process that they finally give-in and give-up. So how do you avoid this scenario?
First, hire the best designer you can afford. Look at their portfolio. Talk to their former clients. Find out about their training. Ask for their credentials.
Second, set clear goals for what the design is to accomplish. What do you want this design to communicate?
Third, allow the designer to create. You are paying for his/ her expertise, and you will get the most from them by helping them catch the vision of your company, its mission, its values, its potential.
Fourth, ask for at least 3 “comps” (comprehensive renderings) of possible solutions to the stated “problem,” then narrow your choice and provide helpful feedback. Helpful feedback focuses on moving the design closer to the creative goals. Unhelpful feedback focuses on how to best accomplish the goal. For example, you might say, “I’d think this design comes closest to meeting our objectives, but I’d like it to appeal to a younger crowd.” This helps the designer to better understand your goals while allowing him/ her to find the best solution to meeting these goals. Saying “I hate that color. My brother had a car that color and it reminds me of that rusty old thing” or “I really like script fonts,” may leave your designer feeling frustrated and confused, since his/ her instincts may conflict with your personal whims. Keep in mind that the purpose of the design is to bring about desired business results, not to look “pretty” or appeal to your quirky sense of aesthetics.
Showing the design to others for input is a good idea as long as you remind them of the goals and focus the discussion on how well it meets those goals. Then present the designer with a unified decision. No designer can hit multiple targets with one shot – unless those targets are in-line with each other.
Once you establish a logo, let it work for you. Include it prominently in printed communication, websites, email messages, packaging and signage. Ensure that it is consistently presented. Don’t alter the colors, the fonts, or the placement arbitrarily. Variations and alterations will weaken your brand.
Update your logo periodically with the help of your designer, but stay true to the original concept unless it simply isn’t working for you. In 1975, NBC famously changed it’s logo from the peacock to the stylized “N.” After suffering a painful “identity crisis” with the public, they came back to the peacock, at first trying to combine it with the new logo, then moving to an updated version of the original peacock idea. Smaller companies can often learn from the mistakes of large corporations. Big businesses are better equipped to withstand big blunders.
- Good logos are essential to the success of your business.
- Undervalue them at your own risk.
- Hire a professional designer.
- Help him/ her catch the vision of your company.
- Allow him/ her freedom to create the best possible solution.
- Compare your design to your stated goals and adjust accordingly.
- Protect the integrity of your brand and update it periodically.