Logos aren’t just for sports teams, skateboarders and Fortune 500 companies. Every company, even the very smallest, can profit from a well-designed logo. That includes your business.
Last time, we outlined why a strong business image is an asset. Now, let’s look at why a logo is often the keystone component of a business image.
A business logo is not just a decoration or a style accessory. It’s the essence of a business’s image, condensed into a single coherent element. It becomes a mark of identity that customers can recognize in a flash, and over time, a mark of quality and reliability. It provides an essential focal point for the business image and, if it’s well-crafted, can replace a lot of descriptive material in promotional efforts.
The very best logos can express the big three – who, what and where – and sometimes squeeze in when and how. This helps every one of your promotional efforts appeal to exactly the right audience and market. That saves endless effort and cost when you’re trying to reach your best potential customers. It also helps to gently steer away those who are looking for something other than what you do or provide. (If you’re a florist, it takes unproductive time and effort to deal politely with customers seeking gardening supplies, and vice versa. Better that they are turned away by a clear depiction of your business type than sent away with you both frustrated!)
If your business doesn’t use a logo, your business name has to stand on its own. Some business owners maintain, with stubborn pride, that their name alone should be enough. That’s admirable, and would be true in a perfect world, but the difference between an unadorned name and a logo can be the difference between subsisting and success... or between failure and dominance of your market. A name alone forces the viewer to call up their own associations, and only if they have the inclination to do so in the few seconds you have their attention. A logo weaves in extra content and puts your business name in a recognizable context. In turn, that content and context stick better in the customer’s mind. Even if you see your business name as your mark, making that mark more memorable can only enhance its value.
The long-term purpose of a good logo is to become part of the ongoing promotion of the business. Once you’ve built the image and the reputation, every instance of your logo becomes a point of promotion, whether it’s on a sign, a truck, a package or a billboard. If it’s a suitable, well-designed logo, it will convey more than just your business name. It will tell those who see it something about what you do and how you do it, without having to waste valuable promotional space adding words that do that job. For instance, a simple graphic logo of a one- or two-word name with some other generic design elements carries no information about what that business does... so “Tree Service” or “Accounting” or “Personal Training” has to be shoehorned in somewhere, every time, to carry the whole message. A better logo design would convey the business type, and more, without that extra baggage.
So if you don’t have a logo, consider adding one to your identity arsenal. I don’t know of a single good argument against it, even for staid professional services.
If you do have a logo, stand back and look at it: is it a good one? Does it represent your business well? Does it give your customers a sense of what you’re all about? Or – and this is far too often the case – is your logo a tad too generic? A lot of businesses continue to use a few clip-art symbols chosen by a printer back when they had their first cards made. Generic clip art or symbols don’t make a logo!
Even if your logo was designed for you, is it too plain? Maybe a bit too garish? Outdated? Designed a long time ago by someone who could have used a smidge more talent? Again, does it represent your business well? Is it indistinguishable from your competitors... or from other businesses in other lines?
If you’ve been in business a while, you’re probably attached to your logo. This is a good time to sit back and consider the potential virtues outlined above. Take a fresh look. Even if you’re attached to your logo – perhaps it was designed by a cherished friend or family member – and even if you think it’s served you well, ask yourself if it really represents you as well as it might... and does now, not 'back when.'
If you don’t have a logo, think over your reasons why.
Next time, we’ll get into what makes a good logo work, a great one work overtime… and a poor one fail.
James Gifford is the creative director of NitroPress Creative Services in Tolland.