A company’s branding strategy is made up of several elements, including its logo. Oftentimes, the logo piece of the branding pie is overshadowed by the other elements. That doesn’t mean it isn’t equally as important, however. Just ask a company whose logo or logo change torpedoed their entire strategy.
Choosing a logo is one thing. The options are immense and it can take some time to scratch out a viable logo. The best advice is simply to not rush into anything. You need to find a logo that you feel passionately about; you will be starting at it for many years to come. Why work with something you don’t like?
So, where does one start when creating a logo? Start at the basics, meaning the core of your company. Your logo needs to represent your company in a unique and honest manner. Too many companies try to emulate the design of other successful companies in their industry. Why be like everyone else? Your goal when choosing your logo is to leave your customers with an image of your company imbedded in their memory. In what way do you want your company remembered? What traits do you want your logo to evoke?
As far as the actual design, a few tried-and-true elements will help you create a positive, successful, and memorable logo.
- Your logo should avoid too much detail. Think about companies like McDonalds, Nike, or Apple. There designs are clean and simple. Keep in mind that simple doesn’t necessarily equal boring or plain. As long as your logo is compelling, a simple logo will likely work in your favor.
- Your logo should work as well in black and white as it does in color. You need to choose a logo that works well regardless of the medium or color scheme. Start-up companies especially should consider working in one or two colors. Printing costs will quickly become a big factor in your company finances. Printing in multiple colors is far more costly than black and white or even a two-color scheme. If your colored logo doesn’t have the same power in black and white, you may need to reconsider.
- Along the same lines, make sure your logo is scalable. A good logo that becomes distorted when enlarged, for instance, will not work. The same premise goes for those that need to be reduced in size. You need to find or create a logo that works well in all sizes. A common assessment is called the “Business Card/Billboard” test. Will your logo look the same on a business card and a billboard? If the answer is “no,” go back to the drawing board.
- Finally, your logo should be artistically balanced. Design elements like symmetry, color, line density, shape, and balance should all be considered when coming to a final decision. Your logo may be a customer’s first impression of your company. Once again, consider what impression you want that to be.
A logo should be designed to last 10-15 years and longer. Not only is it expensive to change a logo, it can also confuse your customers. That being said, there are times when a logo update or redesign is prudent. Many of the most successful companies in the world have updated their logos as the need arose. Usually, the changes are small in nature and don’t involve a complete overhaul. Customers always notice, however.
If your logo is dated or confusing, you should consider a change. Marketing leaders have identified a few steps to make that change is easy and painless as possible.
- Do your research regarding logo changes within your industry. Have the changes worked? Did they significantly affect the companies in question? What was the public’s response? Studying those that went before you can be a way to avoid the same mistakes and pitfalls.
- Define the reason for the change. Why are you contemplating changing or updating your logo? What do you want your logo to say that you feel it currently isn’t? Have your customers made suggestions or voiced concerns? You need to know exactly why you are changing and what you hope to accomplish before deciding upon any change.
- Decide if you are going to update your logo or completely revamp it altogether. Again, knowing what you hope to accomplish can help you determine how far you need to go.
- Determine the important elements of your current logo. Ask yourself what elements need to remain intact. Are there certain features of your logo that your customers respond to? What parts of your current logo speak to the essence of your company? Are there changes that would likely confuse your customers?
Aside from company overhauls that result from business acquisitions, name changes, or changes in the company’s organization, the most common reasons for change are logo revitalization and design evolution. Very few logos have power and impact to remain unchanged for decades. There are very few companies like Nike, Apple, MTV, or IBM in the world. Instead, most companies update their logos as society and their customer base changes.
The following companies updated their logos in 2014 in an attempt to appeal to a younger demographic. The original logo is on the left, the update on the right. As you can see, some of the changes are minor. They are all designed, however, in an effort to appeal to a wider target market. What do you think?
Major League Soccer:
Black & Decker: