Since becoming a graphic designer, I’ve had many clients come to me and say something along the lines of "I just need a quick, simple logo designed for my new business as soon as possible. I know exactly what I want so it should be pretty straightforward, how much do you charge?"
Whilst I understand and wholeheartedly support the need to get your business up and running so you can begin the important stuff like making money, I would have to disagree that a logo is something that should be designed 'quickly' and 'simply'. Here's why...
1. Logo vs Branding - Know your definitions:
It’s important to get the context of what you’re referring to right so that you and your designer are on the same page. An open dialogue is key.
A logo itself is technically described as a symbol or similar design (either typographical or illustrative) adopted by an organisation to identify its products, uniforms, marketing collateral etc. Other terms for a logo you might hear: mark, motif, symbol, submark, monogram.
Branding is a little harder to define but in short it refers to the image, feeling or idea that a consumer has in their mind when thinking about a particular company. This can relate to an emotive feeling that the consumer has in relation to the brand/product as well as physical features and aspects of the brand itself. Branding is defined through visual identity, marketing materials, tone of voice, user interaction, messages, taglines, colours, fonts, textures, products and imagery.
Other terms for branding you might hear: brand identity, brand communication, visual communication, brand design.
2. Why your logo is important
A logo is important because it is the window to your company. It is often the first thing that your consumers will see and however ‘simple’ the design is, it is an integral part of what you do and will relate across the board to much of your visual identity.
3. Why your branding is important
Branding is everywhere and in everything. How the public view your business, your tone of voice and your connection to your consumers is key. Think of your branding in relation to a CV. You want to make sure that you come across in the right way, a way that is true to you, your business or your product but that also has substance and character and stands out from the crowd. How you come across as a brand can be manifested in many ways so it’s important to keep your logo, submarks, motifs, fonts, images, and colours under a set of clear, constructive rules (brand guidelines). With a solid set of guidelines, your brand can stay true to its identity whilst your business develops and grows.
4. The designer’s view
From a design perspective, we are trained to create logos and consequent brand elements that are reflective of a company, their values, ideals, tone of voice, target audience, competitors, client profiles and back story. We like to get nosy. We want to know everything about the business before it’s even begun so that we get a very clear picture that we can use to develop and design a successful logo.
Imagine if a portrait artist was given a grainy, pixelated photo of its subject and asked to draw a clear, visual representation. They may get pretty close but those finer details would be lacking and the end result wouldn’t be quite right. It wouldn’t be a true representation of the person. Logo designing is the same. It takes time, energy, creativity, research, brainstorming, sketching and fine-tuning. Most of this happens before we even get on to the computer to create the logo.
Think about that portrait again and the artist beginning to draw the eyes of their subject. Eyes are such a defining feature of a person and often the most difficult part for an artist to get right. In much the same way, a logo is the ‘eye’ to your company. We want to get it right. We also want to see the company through your eyes so that we can represent your business in an authentic way via a logo.
5. Money/time dilemma
Graphic Design is a profession. In the same way as any industry, you pay for what you get and if you are willing to invest a bit of time and money into the logo/brand process then you will get a trained designer with experience, creativity and professionalism at your service. You may have come across a friend of a friend or an online site that claims to be able to create a logo for £20 in 2 hours. If you want to go down that route, no problem, but just ask yourself WHY are they doing it for such a small fee and why is it taking them so little time to do it? Are they trained? Do they understand copyright? What work have they done before? Will they give you all the right file formats? I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve come across a pixelated, fuzzy logo on a website, flyer or business card and thought to myself ‘that company hasn’t been given their logo in the correct file format’. It’s such a shame. A logo should be flexible, relatable, adaptable and scalable and provided to the client in all the correct ways.
Logo designing and brand identity takes time and it shouldn't be rushed. If you're serious about making your business work then allow designers to be serious about how they work too. I take on very few logo design and branding projects at any one time so I can give them my full attention and energy, to achieve something that is reflective of their brand and, above all, something they are proud of.
6. Still not convinced?
If you’re still not sure whether investing in a logo is a good idea then just remember this - if you treat yourself as a proper, successful, professional business then others will ultimately see you in the same way. In this fast paced, digital-heavy, overcrowded world there has to be something to be said for seeking out a designer or studio that can conceptualise your brand and create something just a little bit special and unique.