Whether you realize it or not, your company is being watched all the time. Not always by the same people, but with the 24 hour business cycle on the internet, you are always being judged by your appearance. Like it or not your logo speaks volumes about you. If the first impressions are true or not, the mistakes we make with our logos can have a lasting effect on our accounts receivable. Let’s look at Logo Mistakes Small Businesses Make that tend to give your company a less than professional look.
We have all seen the sites that sell 100 logos for a dollar. Steer clear of sites like those. The old adage “you get what you pay for” certainly applies. If you invest so many hours and dollars into your business, where is the logic in getting an amateur logo? You want to be taken seriously, we should take our branding seriously. If you want to be professional, your company should look professional.
When I say amateur, what do I mean?
• Owner wanted to save money and time by going the DIY route.
• Owner’s favorite nephew took an art class and offered to help.
• The printer (not trained in logo design) gives free logo design with printing.
• Used logo by the dozen contest sites that hire amateur designers that love clip art.
As one of the most prevalent logo mistakes small businesses make, an amateur logo makes you look amateur. Just like a professional logo, makes you look professional.
Me Too Branding
Trends come in like a tsunami and it seems that if you don’t join in you will be left behind. However if you join in you look like everyone else and have little to show for it. Trends are never the answer for logo design. You know what I’m talking about, the ubiquitous swoosh, the tenacious glow and bevel. You can see a virtual library of trendy logo in your yellow pages.
Designing with trends has some obvious problems. Trends are popular, everyone is joining in, therefore it is impossible to be unique. Trends are short lived, in a few years your logo will need a revamp, if not a complete overhaul. Trends place a date stamp on your brand telling your customers when it was designed and how long ago it should have been updated.
My advice, create a brand that is timeless, one that will represent your company for many years without the fickle trends making your company look dated.
Images Instead of Symbols
Here is where proper graphic training comes into play. Many times I have seen company “logos” with a photograph of the owner’s dog, or of a flower. It can be anything. Then when they try to use their photographic logo in a different format or scale, it fails to reproduce properly.
The correct way to create a logo is with vector graphics. Vector graphics are mathematically precise points and paths that guarantee visual consistency and scalability. Photos are raster art and are made up of many small pixels. When you scale raster art it gets blurry and rough.
In order to create a logo that is simple, recognizable, and reproducible in any size or medium, vector graphics are the best solution. Logo designers worth their salt will know this and insist on it.
Stock Art Branding
Using stock art or clip art or even logo templates has many pitfalls that sabotage your brand to it’s very core. Your company is unique, your logo should be as well. It is impossible for an “off the shelf” clip art logo that 100 other companies have used to effectively convey your unique company message. Your brand must stand out or you will blend in, and you can’t stand out if you look like 100 other companies. The goal of your brand is to force you to stand out in a sea of companies that offer the same products or services, and convey your message to the perfect customer. You just can’t do that with borrowed art.
Kitchen Sink Branding
Logos should be simple. Simple helps people remember them better. Simple reproduces better in every medium. Simple is difficult to achieve. Since simplicity requires more work many people try to avoid the extra work by adding more into the logo. They try to illustrate every aspect of their company in a tiny mark. The theory here is if we can’t make it simple, let’s make it comprehensive. Look at Nike. If you didn’t know anything about the company, there would be no way to guess it was about shoes, or even sports for that matter.
How does simplicity help? A simple logo maintains communication even when it is very small. A complex logo tends to lose readability and recognition at smaller sizes. A simple logo can convey many things to many different customer groups. A complex logo will end up not meaning anything because there is too much information to digest quickly.
Using Color To Fix It
Your logo needs to print well in EVERY medium, including newsprint, copiers, phonebooks and fax machines. Yes, I know some of those mediums are quite archaic. But the fact remains, if your logo doesn’t work in black and white, color can’t fix it. A sagacious designer plans for the lowest common denominator. You see, when your logo is printed in the yellow pages or in the newspaper, everything is working against it, the paper, the ink, the printing process, everything. If your logo relies on color to convey its message, that message is lost. Your logo must work in black and white in order to prevent as much damage as possible in the variety of mediums.
Poor Choice Of Font/Too many fonts
The font you chose for your logo is a decision not to be taken lightly. Too many times, logo fonts are after thoughts, little more than a necessary evil. The font you chose for your brand can determine the success or failure of your brand.
Fonts say more than just the words the characters spell out. There are plenty of subtle cues found in every font. Your font can convey audience, price point, value, attitude, intent, origin, era, and even mindset. If your font and your icon don’t act in concert with the message your brand wants to convey, your audience can miss the message altogether or even worse, forget you completely.
After you have carefully chosen your font, you may want to alter it or customize it so that it becomes unique to you. Even if someone is using that font (they probably are), yours will be one of a kind.
Using too many fonts is nearly as bad a using the wrong font. I use a maximum of two fonts in a logo. Any more than two and it gets confusing and hard to read, especially at smaller sizes.
The relationship between your icon and your logotype is an important one. The size of each element, the color relationship, the proximity and positioning all play a part in the emphasis. Make sure your customer sees the most important element first and continue in descending order. If done correctly, it shouldn’t be a long list of elements, but you still must think about the visual order of each element. You don’t want one element to over power the other, but a good logo still has a hierarchy of pieces.
If all of this feels a bit overwhelming, we would be glad to talk you through it. Give us a call or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, we look forward to the conversation.