Making Your Logo a Brand Advantage

July 24th, 2015By Amanda Blumeyer
McDonald's fries sans logo

Studies show that over 90% of communication is non-verbal. It’s not just the words you’re saying, but how you’re saying them and what your body language is doing that help communicate your message. And in a world where we are bombarded incessantly with information, symbols become a convenient way to contain and convey meaning.

Your company’s logo is a unique and defining symbol that should be a powerful tool in establishing your brand. A company’s logo is like a person’s signature; and, like a signature, it conveys information that goes far beyond the name itself. It’s not just your company name, but also how it’s presented and the tone that’s perceived by your prospects. Your logo is a summary statement for a brand and a reassuring signal of what one can expect.

Leading companies use their logos to reinforce an idea of what the company is all about. The Nike “swoosh”, the Apple “apple”, and the BMW “propeller” – they all stand for something. And more importantly, they’re all remembered for something.

When people look at your logo, they should get a feel for what you are all about, a hint about your brand personality. The logo should suggest that you’re different from your competitors, that you are a professional business — confident and successful in what you do. Your logo — from the icon to the typography to the color — should provide an immediate sense of what your company is all about.

There’s a lot to consider when designing a logo. For starters, what is the corporate tone of your company? If your company is going through a re-brand, what elements of the previous brand are still valid and in what new directions would you like to take the company? If your company is just starting out, what do you want to be known for?

Consider the following. Which of these characteristics, if any, apply to your brand?

  • Reassuring
  • Professional
  • Whimsical
  • Corporate
  • Forward-thinking
  • Intelligent
  • Caring
  • Honest
  • Sophisticated
  • Reliable
  • Environmental
  • Healthy
  • Trustworthy
  • Tech-savvy
  • Funny
  • Bargain
  • Elite

A logo can convey a lot of information. But it can’t tell your entire story. Prioritize the most important and distinctive characteristics of your company and make sure the most relevant ones come across in your logo design.

When designing a logo icon, it’s important to keep the complexity and the size in mind. A logo needs to work in all sizes and in many different contexts – everything from a business card to a billboard. If it’s not legible on a business card, it won’t be effective in the real world. And if complexity leads to visual confusion it won’t be remembered at all.

Color is also a huge factor. Look at McDonald’s’ logo – the “Golden Arches.” Gold is critical to the success of McDonald’s logo. Not only is gold an inherently happy/positive color, but it also reflects the golden crispiness that is a McDonald’s french fry. Ask yourself, what does the color of my logo say about my company?

Every color has it’s own characteristics. In and out of context, they can stand for different things. Below are a few basics. These aren’t hard and fast rules necessarily, but basic generalizations we can make based on experience:

  • Red could be medical, high-intensity, and emotional
  • Orange comes across as warm, promotes caution, shows aggression
  • Yellow could represent happiness, openness, or enthusiasm
  • Green often stands for environmental, intelligence, health or money
  • Blue could be corporate, productive, professional and calm
  • Purple could be associated with wealth, royalty, and education

Once you have a basic outline for the design in place, play around with different colors and see what effect they have on the personality and tone of your logo. Ask yourself if the personality is consistent with the stature you want your company to project.

Ultimately, a company’s logo is the gateway to their brand. So put your logo everywhere. Online, weave your logo into your website, digital ad campaigns and on social media sites where you have company accounts. Offline, put your logo on your front door, business card, product packaging, company stationary, company checks and contracts.

When your logo is recognizable, memorable and relays your most prominent brand characteristics quickly then the real sales conversation can start.

Let’s get branding!

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