Rick Mess | Jul 8, 2021
Most companies have a logo. As long as it’s recognizable to the employees, it’s considered good enough. “It’s an okay logo,” says the complacent owner. “After all, we’re not Apple or McDonald’s.”
And that’s exactly why they aren’t Apple or McDonald’s. A logo is a marketing tool, and if these guys’ marketing doesn’t work, then what does?
Your logo is the banner you carry into the market battle.
Most logos fail not because they belong to small or obscure companies. And not even because they are poorly designed. The reason they fail is a more fundamental one.
Pull up any article on designing a logo and it will suggest you start with a specific step, like looking at inspiring examples, checking out your competitors’ work, determining the type of logo you want, or sketching a rough outline. Sure, if you need a bumper sticker or a fridge magnet, go ahead — look and sketch to your heart’s content. Maybe such articles are written by designers who don’t really want to tell you the truth or by people who are completely ignorant of basic marketing.
“I know what kind of logo I want,” says the client excitedly after looking through a bunch of competing websites. “Here, I’ve already sketched it!”
But even the creation of the world didn’t begin with a sketch. “In the beginning was the Word” is a mistranslation of the Greek Logos, which denotes Meaning, Knowledge, Necessity, Reason, Way. So even God himself started with a logo. This joke holds a kernel of truth. The fundamental meaning of the logo is to create an expanding business universe. Understanding this is half the success.
The logo is the top of the pyramid which rests on brand ideology. A house is built from the foundation up, not from the roof down. Doing it the other way around results in a meaningless image instead of a marketing tool. The logo doesn’t begin with design but ends with it.
The logo is a graphic representation of the company’s image, goal, and mission.
Any decent designer agency will ask you to prepare a brief and describe your company, product, and target audience; it will also do its own marketing research. The designers will not simply take your wishes into account; they will use them as guidelines. But don’t get too excited. Trying to balance the desire to please you and the need to create a really efficient logo, most designers will err on the side of the former. The wiser and more experienced ones will find a compromise, and you will not want to work with those who prefer to do things their own way. So what’s your best option? If you know that your idea will work to advance your business interests and not just pander to your tastes, this will not be a problem.
To get to this kind of idea, we have to start with the essentials.
In the beginning was Knowledge. You are the god and creator of your business universe. Nobody knows your plan as well as you. So it is up to you to lay the foundation.
The table below will give you a general idea of what kind of info is important. You can make your own table or checklist of a similar nature. A table is a useful way to collate all the basic data and organize your thoughts.
The ultimate goal is to create a verbal description of the company’s image and the message it broadcasts. Only write down the most important and essential things.
If you have any thoughts, ideas, or images while filling out the table, write them down separately. These can be very useful. Don’t throw away your notes; you might return to them later only to discover something valuable.
This information is crucial to your project’s success and must be used by the designer in creating the logo. Your company’s description will help to determine the image and style of your logo.
A logo is not just an image or a line of text that you like. It broadcasts a specific message to the world. Your sign has to be read and understood by the people it is addressed to. This is important.
To succeed, you have to study your target audience and the language it uses and likes. Designers know these kinds of things well. So your task is to give them the requisite information on your target audience and the message you want to get across.
Here are some helpful links:
Lists and tables are created through analytical thinking, which engages the left part of the brain. But to generate ideas you need more, so this is where you activate the right part, which guides intuition and creativity. Association mapping is the perfect way to do it. Its usefulness is not limited to researching the image of your company or product. This method can lead to unexpected discoveries and insights in all areas of life.
Whereas compiling the table required concentration, now is the time to relax. The association method is very simple yet effective. It can help you arrive at the information that will be more truthful and useful than filling out dry tables.
Get a piece of paper and write your company’s name in the center. Picture it as a special hub that emanates energy. Shut down your internal critic. You are doing this for yourself. Think of all the things you associate your subject with: your brand, your business. Write down everything, even if it seems silly or irrelevant. Let yourself dream. How will your brand appear to others? What should they think and feel when they see it?
Pause after writing down the first order of associations. Look at each word in turn and write down associations for the associations. You can go on to a third order, but two are usually enough.
The result is often very interesting and helpful in developing any idea.
Even if you can’t draw, try to sketch your logo. Don’t be critical. Just draw anything that seems appropriate. Put the sketches aside for later reference.
Now that your thoughts have taken shape, you can look at your competitors’ websites or inspiring examples. If this had been your first step, it would have distracted you from your task and cost you your uniqueness. And uniqueness is what makes you stand out in the market.
Wait a couple of days, then revisit all the material you have collected to see it afresh. Choose the most essential and informative stuff, the best ideas and sketches.
If you did all of the above, you did more than save yourself a lot of unnecessary costs. You are a hero ready to do market battle under your own banner. You have created the right foundation not only for your logo but for your brand’s visual identity as a whole. You have found the direction you should be taking. And now it’s time to contact the designers.
Of course, designers can make your life easier by doing all this research for you (they will have to do it anyway). However, unless you get to the bottom of your subject to make your brand’s image correspond to your goals, the designers’ ideas may contradict your vision. When you know exactly what you want, there will be no place for misunderstandings. Your result will be a real logo that works for you. A logo that will make your product exciting and recognizable. A logo that will bring you victory.