From the moment we wake in the morning, until our heads hit the pillow at night, we are surrounded by logos. They are on the products we use, the clothes we wear, and the cars we drive. Even the communities we live in feature logos on street signs and marquees. One expert has estimated we are exposed to more than 5,000 logos every day.
So how do you make your logo stand out?
Unfortunately, many companies make serious mistakes when they design their logos. These are good businesses with bright futures, but they often end up with logos that are less than ideal, or even poorly designed. And getting customers to notice or remember a bad logo is a very difficult thing to do.
When you set out to create your new logo, be sure to avoid these five critical mistakes:
Critical mistake #1: Drawing your logo yourself
Many bad logos happen because a business owner tries to do it all themselves. They need something fast, so they create it themselves or as a friend to do it. And while they plan on doing it the right way eventually, they seldom get the chance.
That’s what happened to Upgrades, Etc., a small but growing computer repair business. The owner designed the original logo because he needed it fast. Customers tolerated the bad logo because they appreciated the high-quality service they received. However, new customers didn’t take the company seriously.
Happily, the story ends well. Upgrades, Etc. contacted the professional logo designers at Logoworks.com for a new logo, including an icon that customers could recognize. They also updated the font and added color to catch the attention of new customers.
Not all bad logo stories end up as happily. An unprofessional logo can destroy trust among potential customers and keep customers from buying your products. And it takes very deep pockets for a business to survive a lack of customers.
Critical mistake #2: Forgetting about your customer
Many business owners choose a logo based on their tastes. They select colors, icons and fonts that appeal to them. The problem is, they are often not their ideal customers. Before designing your logo, find out as much as you can about your customers. Are they men or women? Single or married? Young or old? Are they looking for a trustworthy image, or something more playful? The more you know about your customer’s likes and dislikes, the more easily you can develop an image that will appeal to them.
Critical mistake #3: Looking too much like your competitors
This is an easy mistake to make. After all, your competitors are successful, so why not do what they do? When your competitors zig, you should zag.
Ever notice that while Coca-Cola’s primary color is red, Pepsi’s dominant color is blue? Rather than copying the market leader’s color like most store brands, Pepsi intentionally uses a different color to claim a unique space in the consumer’s mind. The same is true for just about any product category.
Don’t mimic your competition. Choose colors, shapes, icons and fonts that set your business apart. By contrasting your logo and brand image to your competition, you’ll help customers easily identify your business and products. When your logo resembles everyone else’s, you’ll lose customers who confuse your product with the competition.
Critical mistake #4: Thinking that colors and fonts don’t matter
Does your company need to convey freshness? Consider using greens, which suggest health and prosperity. Want to grab a customer’s attention? Reds are impossible to ignore and convey boldness, power, strength and excitement. No wonder many leading brands use red as their primary color. Maybe your logo needs to convey trust. Blues represent authority, dependability, and responsibility. That’s why you’ll see blues in life insurance and investment firm branding.
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But be careful. Too many colors make a logo difficult and expensive to print or embroider. Virtually all of the world’s most recognized logos are made up of just one or two colors. Keep it simple.
The same principle applies to fonts. You want your logo to be readable, but not ordinary. Times New Roman and Ariel may be popular fonts for word processing—but you won’t find either of these in truly good logos. They just don’t feel original. There are literally thousands of fonts to choose from—some elegant, others bold, still others traditional, and so on. The font you choose should support the product or business it represents. But don’t get too trendy, or you may find yourself with a dated logo a few years from now.
Critical mistake #5: Trying to communicate too much with your logo
Small business owners often make the mistake of creating a logo that says so much that they end up communicating nothing at all.
I’ve seen the logo of a data storage company that included a baby, a bride and groom, a coffin, an engagement ring, a paper document, a CD, and a computer surrounded by an outline of the state where they are based. The result was impossible to decipher. What’s worse, that logo would be difficult (and expensive) to embroider on shirts, print on signs, or even business cards.
On the other side of the spectrum, some businesses create logos that are too simple or don’t stand for anything. Think of the myriad of logos with swooshes, hoops, orbits, and swirls. These logos are so nondescript that they simply don’t help brand the company. Instead, choose an icon and logotype that help customers easily understand your business and identify your products.
Additionally, many small businesses also make the mistake of adding words like Inc, Corp, or LLC to their logos. Often they do this to look bigger or more official. But in reality, it just makes the logo busy and hard to remember. Think of your five favorite brands. Do any of them include the words Inc. or Corp. in their logos? Do any of them include taglines?
Instead of putting everything in your logo, focus on a single image that your customer can remember.