The Value of a Well-Planned Logo

Starting a new business involves a lot of budgeting and planning. Business owners often put more focus on their product or service itself. Sometimes the logo is put together as an afterthought. New businesses might try to obtain a logo for as little cost as possible, or even at no cost. The value of a well-executed logo design is sometimes hard to understand.

A logo is the first impression a company gives to its prospective customers. What that logo visually communicates impacts how viewers react to your company. Viewers will come to subconscious conclusions about your company within seconds of seeing your logo. Most people equate the visual quality of the logo with the company’s internal attention to quality.

Remember, you’ll be using your logo for years, and want it to remain relevant. It needs to have design longevity, which means it does not follow a trend, or appear aesthetically dated. From a functionality standpoint, it needs to remain intact while being used in many ways. Consistent use of your logo reflects dependability in your business.

The logo represents the personality and product of the company. When I’m designing a logo, I ask the client, “What words would you use to describe this brand or product? How do you want the viewer to feel when they see your logo?” Then I keep those descriptors in mind for the logo design process.

For example, HotShot School Portraits logo is fun and youthful. They take non-traditional school portraits, and wanted to avoid a sense of tradition in their logo.

In another direction, look at the tru/tan logo. Their product is used in winemaking, and they wanted a logo that feels clean, precise, and scientific.

These aren’t the personalities of the owners or employees necessarily, but of the brands. Many business owners put careful thought into their brand personality when naming their company. But an amateur logo can quickly negate the value of a creative name.

How you treat your logo subconsciously communicates how you treat your company or customers. Make sure those messages are accurate by including professional logo design in your business plan.

Related: Beyond Logo Design: The Brand’s Identity

Design Feedback for Maximum Visual Success

Are you gaining the maximum benefits from your designer’s skills and expertise?

At least once a week I notice clients struggling with their own feedback. Too often I hear, “It’s not working for me, but I don’t know how to fix it!” This is actually my favorite kind of feedback. How to fix it is not your problem—it’s my job! With a few brief questions, I can unravel the problem, and open the paths to new solutions. When you jump to a solution for designers to take, you are actually removing their expertise from the process and effectually demoting them to layout technicians.

When reviewing a design, think about these key points:

1. What isn’t working? 
The colors, this font, that photo...take a quick glance and notice what elements cause friction for you.

2. How are you reacting? 
Does it seem too crowded? Does it contradict the response you want? What reaction do you want instead?

3. Why? 
This step is optional, but try to pinpoint why you’re reacting in such a way (The blue is too tropical. The photo reminds me of a bad vacation. The font is too whimsical.)

4. What to do about it?
No need to worry about this one! In most cases, you won’t know what to do about it. That’s OK! Don’t feel like you have to assume responsibility for the solution. Whenever possible, leave the solution open for the designer. You may be surprised how effective the results can be.

Regarding Mayonnaise (and Other Unreasonable Demands)

I recently participated in a discussion entitled, “What makes you different from all the other designers?” Many of us were eager to jump in, but after awhile the answers started to sound the same:
My process is unique.
I work hard and develop creative solutions. 
I involve my clients as much as possible. 

One designer challenged us to come up with something really bold and different. To which I replied, “I refuse to eat mayonnaise for any reason.” Lucky for me, no clients have ever required this of me. Although, one day, when I worked at an ad agency, a co-worker came into my office, handed me a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, and said, “I need this container for a mock-up. How fast can you eat it?” Not only did I eagerly oblige, I sat at my desk thinking, “I have the best job in the world!”

To this day, I’m not sure what I’d do if I had lunch with a new client and pasta salad was the only menu item. 

Designers are an eccentric bunch of people. We thrive in a profession that requires creativity and efficiency, beauty and order, rhyme with reason. Such juxtaposition can certainly lend itself to personality quirks. Since we work in a creative field, most clients will find unusual personal traits endearing and refreshing. I once met a new client after dying my hair blue. I don’t know if the blue hair swayed them one way or the other, except I did get the project and they’ve worked with me on several projects since.

Some designers may tone down their quirks in misguided attempts to increase their professionalism. Perhaps a polished fa├žade reflects their polished end product. Surely, suppressing our strange qualities gives our clients a sense of stability, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

That is, as long as mayonnaise is not involved.