Logo Design/Brand Identity Gone Wrong

Published: 17th January 2012
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First -What exactly is a logo?
A logo is not your brand. A logo exists however, to provide immediate brand recognition. Your brand is how your market perceives you, and your logo should visually convey the trust, experience and nature of your brand. A logo needs to inspire confidence and professionalism the second someone sees it, even if they don’t know who you are.

People do business with you because of your reputation, talent or experience. But how would you visually portray these things before they know of them? How far would you go to make sure that mark represented you, your principals, and the quality of your service? How much is it worth to you? How long would it take you to decide on the perfect logo?

Many business owners feel daunted by creating a logo, as they should – it is a delicate process that takes years of experience. Unfortunately, because of this some resort to logo design strategies that do not do their business and reputation justice. Have you or someone you know fallen in to any of these traps?

1. You Made it Yourself
Many small business owners are DIY people. Often times we have to be to survive. With the amount of information online, we can figure out how to do or make many things. But, there are some things that need to be left to professionals. Doing a root canal, getting a haircut and designing a logo are three of them.

“But I have Photoshop!” Nope, it’s still not a good idea (in fact, a designer would probably not use Photoshop as there is more appropriate software out there). Just like you put your representation in the hands of a lawyer, trust your wedding cake to a baker, or hire a CPA to make sure you get the most tax deductions, you need to entrust your logo design to a creative professional.

2. You Held a Logo Design Contest
Sounds like fun! You can get a variety of designers to create something for you and choose which one you like best, right? Wrong - in reality, this is one of the WORST approaches to logo design. Do you really want to entrust the perception of your business to people who know little or nothing about you? The quality of contest logos is not only poor, but also typically lacks the vital research that goes into a professional identity.

Sometimes designers do enter these contests. But, ‘designers’ who participate in logo contests are doing so for a reason – they may not have the experience to go after paid work. Is that who you want creating your identity? You wouldn’t ask four painters to each paint an entire side of your house, and then choose the side you liked most to finish the job – so don’t design your logo that same way.

3. You Used Clip Art or Stock Imagery
This is a common mistake made by people trying to cut corners or cost. Clip art in a logo makes you look cheap and unprofessional. Stock symbols and illustrations devalue your company because they are downloaded by thousands of people, who are now showcasing the same ‘logo’ you are. It is SO important to make sure your logo design is original. You are cheating yourself, your company and your audience if you use clip art or stock imagery.

4. You Googled ‘Logo Design’
“Awesome- a logo for $50!,” you may say. If you Google “logo design” you will be prompted with hundreds of offers from online companies to make a logo for your company at what seems like a great deal. Better think twice. If you don’t, you will end up with a rushed, generic and soulless identity that probably isn’t even worth the $50 you paid for it. These online companies are often made up of “production slaves” who not only know nothing about you, but wouldn’t care even if they did.

You get what you pay for. A lot of these companies are simply recycling old symbols from past customers, changing the name and perhaps colors and giving you a logo that is dreadfully similar to 30 others they did last year. There is no research, planning, or longevity involved with this approach. You may only be spending $50, but in the long run, you are risking the perception of your company by representing yourself with a generic, off the shelf logo.

5. You Didn’t Get Feedback
Whether you designed it yourself, or hired someone, if you don’t get feedback on your logo, you could end up regretting it later. Before you implement any design, it is crucial that you get feedback from your peers and your market. This is a very important step in the process because it can let you know if the logo is going to be successful or not. Success is what this is about – no matter how good it looks, if it doesn’t communicate your message to the correct people, your logo is a failure. So if you didn’t get feedback, you may currently be living with a logo that is doing you no favors and you may not know it. A good designer tests the logo in the marketplace to make sure that it communicates properly.

Do You Want to Try Again?
To approach logo design correctly, you really should consult a professional. A good designer will sit down with you and define your goals and help you figure out the best way to communicate your brand. A professional will take into consideration many things that you, your ‘contest winner’ or the online logo store won’t. For example: Will it scale well? Will it look good in black and white? Can it be reversed out of a darker color? Is it timeless? Does it communicate with your target audience? Does it stand out from your competition?

How Much Should it Cost?
Well, asking how much a logo costs is like walking into a travel agent and saying, “I need a vacation, how much does that cost?” The service of a designer can almost infinitely be tailored to meet your needs. Obviously, the larger your company, the more comprehensive your needs may be, thus you may need to invest more. The price of identity design depends on geographic location, the experience of the designer, the time in which the project needs to be completed and of course your needs. Professional designers are not selling something off of a menu. They are offering experience, insight and creativity.

Try to remember that your logo represents your brand, reputation and identity and as such is one of the biggest investments you can make for your company. If your logo is done right, it will end up paying you back ten-fold.

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