Branding Basics – Step 9

Now the brand needs a logo.

Here is where many entrepreneurs stub their toes. Here they have a momentary lapse of judgment.

Since their sons or daughters are pretty good on the computer, and there’s software named “Logo Creator” or “Business Logos in Minutes”, they believe they can cut corners and do-it-themselves.

I’ll stir the pot a little here by saying: “how can a novice create a powerful logo when most graphic artists can’t create powerful logos?”
 
Non-designers (and I include here design students and other acquaintances without logo design experience) will make a lot of unprofessional mistakes that are just “nits” to most entrepreneurs. They don’t consider such things as: kerning and line spacing, proportion of graphic to logotype and of logotype to tagline, color selection for consistency in all media, typeface selection that’s relevant to the brand story, need for variations in different media and context, scalability, legibility, need to document specs for future applications, and a myriad other details that surround the main theme of the logo.
 
And main theme problems abound, too. They include reverting to cliché, rendering the name illegible through “gimmick” technique, over-designing so it won’t convert to very small or very large display, using an icon no one understands or appreciates, introducing extraneous and distracting elements, considering how the logo will interact with other brand elements, selecting an inappropriate type style or piece of clipart.

Another favorite approach designers take is to take initial caps from the brand name and somehow make that their logo. Now IBM and GE made that work, but especially for a start-up company, I believe the entire name should be part of the logo. Initials in and of themselves have no personality let alone meaning. Unless you’ve plenty of money and time, relying on initials to establish a brand is pretty tenuous. (Incidentally, “logo” used to mean the name rendered uniquely, but common usage allows the graphic elements accompanying the name to be considered part of the logo.)
 
Now, convinced you should seek help, where do you go? I suggest you go to an established graphics designer with credentials in logo design. You might ask for references and ask those references about how the designer approached the project based on the discussion presented here.
 
Then provide the designer with direction, including your brand platform (Step 5), your brand story (Step 6) and your naming brief (Step 7).
 
There are four reasons many graphic artists have a problem creating powerful logos:
1.   They weren’t given direction about the logo’s function within the brand.
2.   They become enamored with the design aspects of initial caps.
3.   They tend to think beauty before function.
4.   They tend to follow the latest trend in logo design (now it’s arches and arcs
 
So have discussions about your brand and share your branding story and vision with the designer. Then give them direction. Don’t worry, a competent designer will appreciate getting direction based on strategy. It will not curtail the “creative process”.
 
Tell them you do not want a logo based on the initials of the name – you want the entire name as part of the logo. Tell them how you anticipate using the logo. Tell them how it should interact with other elements like taglines, product/divisional designations, logos of partners. Also, give them your personal “sacred cows” and “taboos” up front.
 
Then, make sure they know they can call you anytime to test an idea they may come up with. They’ll almost never call, but make sure they have permission, and that they understand the importance you attach to the logo as part of the brand.
 
In addition to the logo, I also suggest you find out from your preferred designer how they intend to document the use and reproduction of the logo for various applications. We’ll cover this in more detail in the next step.

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