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Branding and Logos: Everything You Need to Know
There’s one thing everyone knows about branding: if you’re going into business, you need a memorable logo: something that’ll look just as good on a business card as it does in giant letters stuck to the side of a building, printed on a pitch document, or plastered all over your company t-shirts.
But can you possibly sum up the total experience and knowledge of a company in one simple symbol? It’s every business owner’s challenge.
The good news: you don’t need to spend millions of dollars to come up with a logo that catches the eye. You just need to know your business…with a few design tips and tricks on the side.
What’s in a logo?
What do your clients think when they hear your business name, or when they see its logo? This is your core message.
Word marks and letter marks are some of the most common types of branding. Something like this…
The SBM logo is an example of a letter mark, and we also specially designed our tagline to fit in with the logo.
Shameless plugs aside, plenty of brands have opted to use a stylized version of their own name as their logo. McDonald’s, Sony, FedEx…the list of global brands using this strategy speaks volumes about how well it helps people remember your name.
However, word marks still come with their own significant challenges: colour, typography, font, copyright issues, and making sure the words are legible no matter the context. The last thing you want is your logo (and thus, the name of your business) getting swallowed up by the surrounding colour of a billboard.
What if you want to get your message across with just a symbol? Design marks (or stylized logos) convey the meaning of a business through imagery alone.
Some of the best examples come from sportswear, with companies such as Nike and Puma getting their message across with simple images and a strong slogan. Both the Nike ‘swoosh’ and Puma puma are instant signals of swift, powerful action, fitting their sporting message perfectly.
These logos may be simple, but they tell a powerful story and elicit an emotional response: all signs of a truly impactful brand.
How Do You Find the Perfect Design?
Research, research and more research.
Ask yourself: what’s your industry? More often than not, businesses in the same industries will use recognisable symbols and colours. You’re unlikely to see health services using stark, harsh reds in their logo design, and it’d be rare to see a company promising an adventurous thrill (skydiving, go-karting etc.) with a soft lilac colour scheme.
Are there any symbols associated with your industry? You don’t just have to do what everyone else is doing, but there’s a reason massage parlours commonly use the symbol of a lotus flower: it’s instant association with relaxation and health, and that’s a powerful shortcut to an emotional connection.
Dare to Be Different
What if you want to stand out from the crowd? It’s always a risk, but so is innovation – and when you’re trying to be noticed, doing something different can pay off big time.
BP’s green and yellow sunflower symbolises their drive to be an oil and gas company that’s better for the environment than the competition. Woolworths uses a safe, fresh green, but Coles has chosen a bold red that you can spot from a mile away.
If you’ve got smart design on your side, you can afford to get creative and play with colours and symbols that give you the edge when it comes to catching the eyes of your ideal audience.
Location, location, location
Where is your logo going to be used?
A logo needs to be able to function in a wide variety of places and sizes, including:
- Web banners.
- Across social media.
- On the sides of buildings and large-scale signage.
- Business cards.
- T-shirts and other clothing (if you’re going for the sponsorship look!)
Your logo will be seen at tiny sizes on web banners and across social media, so it needs to be instantly recognisable to your audience, regardless of the context.
Simplicity is key: complex and flashy logos might look great when blown up to billboard size, but make no impact when printed in the corner of a pitch document.
The same goes for colour choice. While it’s important to choose the right colours, you can’t always control the context. As much as you may be emotionally attached to your perfect logo colour scheme, your logo also needs to work in black and white where necessary.
Missing the (Brand) Mark
How can you tell if a logo has missed the mark?
A bad logo will ignore the most important rule: keep it simple. Simplicity is the capstone of a memorable, functional brand, with the whole thing falling apart if you design something too complex or ‘cerebral’.
For a designer, the key to success here is constant communication with the client, along with considering how and when the audience will be seeing your brand.
Poor logos may also be the result when designed specifically for animation. While the animation itself might be fantastic, the logo won’t always be moving, creating a problem when it has to be static.
Consistency is Key
The best style guides will give clear guidelines, but allow for some simplicity and flexibility. If the designer has been too strict, it can be limiting and ultimately harm the brand.
When you have a professional design team help create your brand, you will receive a style guide with recommendations about keeping your colour and font choices consistent, along with how your logo is displayed.
Establishing a strong brand and logo is all about understanding your audience and keeping your message consistent wherever your logo appears.