As a follow-up to my previous post, I thought it might make sense to dissect the logo, and why it's worth the investment to pay a professional to help you craft a logo for your business. This post will focus purely on color, font and graphical elements, but there are so many other aspects that play a part in the creation of a logo for your business to best represent your brand promise.
Your Business Logo is More Than a Name
A logo, in its barest form, is visual representation of your brand. It's so much more than just your business name. This is why it's critical to have an actual brand strategy prior to creating a logo versus just landing wherever you land. Creating a logo before you have a brand strategy is like putting the proverbial cart before the horse. This is where many start-ups and new entrepreneurs go wrong, and why their logos do not represent their businesses as well as it should.
This is also one of the reasons why some companies will "rebrand" after a few years in business or after the start-up phase. Additionally, companies 5-10 years down the road will often "rebrand" and/or "redesign" their logo to either better represent their brand as it is today or to accommodate a “branding miss" during their company's inception.
What a logo represents?
A logo needs to speak for you when you're not around to meet your prospects face-to-face. It's there to remind folks what your business stands for…your brand. It enables your brand to be transmitted digitally to places you've never visited. There's so much riding on your logo period, but add the component of conducting business globally, you better get it right. Getting it right, takes investment in experts. But I guarantee you it'll be worth it in the end.
The logo is your visual brand promise, which sounds complex in nature, because it is complex. Today, with so much online activity whether websites or social media, your logo plays an even bigger part of representing you and your business than ever before. Guess what friends; this is only going to intensify over the next 5-10 years. Weak brands with weak visual representation (logos) will get lost in the shuffle. And, this is where I refer you to my post, "Things that SHOULD cost $5 and those that shouldn't", if you enjoy a good rant about the pricing of logos.
How do you evaluate a logo for your business?
I want to do you all a huge favor. Do NOT use the word "like" or the "like" concept to decide which logo is right for your business. The selection process of whether a logo is right for your company's brand should never come down to what you "like". Instead, all decisions should include some actual thinking with your "mind" to evaluate your logo. Might I propose you create a rating system using the following items to “turn a heart decision into a smart decision”? I use a charting system with all my logo clients to help them evaluate not only their logo, but their name and/or taglines as well. This eliminates decisions that are not based on your business’ needs.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the details of your logo.
This segment could be an entire blog post in itself, but I'll give you the basics. The font chosen for your logo is a critical component of your brand. Font (or typefaces) all say something. They speak to you in a subtle language that you don't even realize is happening. A font tells your customer everything about the mood and intent of your brand. Suffice it to say, if you use Cooper Black (extremely heavy and overbearing) or Comic Sans (extremely loose and informal, cartoon-like), as the main font of your logo you’ll find people won’t take your business seriously. Additionally, the selection of the wrong font will taint your brand and business lickety split (I just wanted to use that phrase).
The weight of the individual lines that create each letter should match your business, as well. Heavy hard lines are very much in your face…is your brand an in-your-face kind of brand? Cursive or script style fonts also tell a story. And, can be very formal (wedding types) or very informal (handwriting types).
If you really look at fonts, and think about what they say or how they make you feel, you'll make better decisions of the 3-5 logo's your professional provides for you to choose from. By the way, if you are only given one logo to choose from your professional isn’t doing you justice. No matter how good your logo designer is, you deserve options. Folks, I am a great logo designer and there’s no way I’m going to hit spot on with only one logo presented. As the client, you deserve options.
Here's the deal, you should NEVER (yes, all cap's was called for) select a color for your logo because you like "red" or "green" or "whatever". This isn't about you! This is about your brand and selecting colors that represent your brand the best.
Every color has a mood and intent. They make you feel something. There are hundreds of colors you can choose from, but I highly recommend you avoid fad or trending colors. Instead select one of the 8 primary colors you might find in the basic box of Crayola Crayons (again a positive reference from my childhood). Your color can then be a shade of that primary color in combination with your accent or secondary color(s).
- Red – on the positive side red is energy, passion and action whereas the negative connation is aggressive, domineering, over-bearing, tiring and angry
- Green – on the positive side green represents growth and vitality, and associated with new life and renewal, whereas the negative side shows as envious, selfish, greedy and miserly
- Purple – one of my least favorite logo colors (Yahoo) the positive side of purple is wealth and extravagance, fantasy and the world of dreams, while on the other side purple is fraudulent and corrupt behavior associated with money.
- Blue – blue logos are everywhere (LinkedIn, Facebook, Pepsi, JP Morgan Chase) because blue is one of the safest colors to use. Blue represents trust, honesty and dependability, yet on the other side it can be thought of as too conservative, predictable and weak. Notice there aren’t many blue logos in the restaurant business.
- Yellow – This is my least favorite color to use for logos. Not because I dislike yellow, but more because yellow is a light color that can get lost on external signage and other marketing materials. It doesn’t make for a good main color, but is a fantastic accent or secondary color. With that being said, yellow is a warm and happy color, which creates a sense of cheerfulness and playfulness. Psychologically, it is optimistic, uplifting and illuminating, brightening people's spirits. McDonald’s uses Red and Yellow…interesting combination, don’t you think?
This is a good time for me to remind you that you select your colors based on what’s right for the brand, and not what you “like”. Yes, I do love green…almost every darn shade. But the reason I selected green and this particular shade of green for the No MOss Brands logo is because of the organic nature of my business and brand. Keep in mind, my company name is No “MOSS” Brands. Therefore, I selected a green that is more representative of nature versus the green of a traffic light, which would have been more playful and bright.
Now, back to my “like” and color preferences…I HATE BROWN. No seriously, I really, really hate brown. Yes, it’s rich and reminds you of chocolate, but for me it does nothing. Yet, I chose to use it in my logo because brown represents that organic nature feel I was going for with my brand.
Therefore, if you're like my family, you will NOT enjoy playing the "color" game with me. As colors are so much more than just my prized position, 64 Crayolas. Colors are dynamic or cool, warm or intense…I could go on and on. Regardless, there’s always a “right” color solution for the problem, that in the case of logos, isn’t about “like”!
COLOR TECHNICAL ASPECTS
Also, your logo should always be built starting with the Pantone Matching System of colors for print. You’ll hear them called PMS colors. For example, the colors of the No Moss Brands logo are PMS 378 (green) and PMS 476 (brown). From those PMS colors printers can match the exact color of your logo in your printouts. Coke’s red is PMS 484 and they are very, very particular about making sure any offline or online colors are an exact match. Think about how many different versions of red exist out there in the world. This is why an exact match is essential to properly represent your brand.
To avoid getting too detailed, PMS colors are where every good logo starts, but you will also need to know how those colors are represented using different mediums, such as digital or online colors. Website colors are often reflected as Hex Code. The Hex Code for the No Moss Brands green is #566C11, whereas there are also “close” representations in CMYK (print) and RGB (digital) as well. So, what does this mean to you? Make sure your logo designer designs your logo starting w/ PMS colors, and provides you the other colors depending on the medium.
Is your logo design just the name of your company, or is there an accompanying graphic to go with it? There’s no right or wrong to whether you have a graphical element as part of your logo, but the name absolutely must be represented. This element must represent your brand, or it’s just superfluous, decoration, and in other words, useless…like “tits on a snake”. Seriously!
Using only a “swoosh” on NIKE products only works, if you are a brand with a strong market presence. It will take many years for your company to be represented by the graphical element only in your logo. Years!!! And, if so, it should be done with the name represented elsewhere in the piece. Graphical elements do not stand on their own to represent your brand unless you’re Nike, McDonalds or Starbucks.
So, let’s review…logo’s are serious business, so treat the process as a business person. Put your “likes” aside, and consider your market and customer base when making decisions.
Top 5 things to consider:
- Your logo is more than just a pretty detail of your business. Your logo is a like a business development person. It speaks for your brand when you aren’t around. Therefore, it should be treated with respect, and not created on a whim or by your 10 year old. It’s a process that is critical to the ultimate success of your business.
- Font selection is just as important as the colors you choose. If the color or font are incongruent with your company’s brand promise you will create market confusion. Market confusion is a surefire way to put a hurdle in the way of your success.
- Your logo should be composed of no more than 2-3 PMS colors. The more colors in your logo, the more expensive it is to reproduce.
- Graphic elements are optional, and should not be used on their own until your brand has been well established in the market place.
- Ultimately, you are the decision-maker; turn your “heart decision into a smart decision”!
Would you like to “talk” logos? Shoot me an email, and we’ll set up a time to discuss via phone.
Please read our other blogs for branding, marketing and more.