What You Need to Know About Logos

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Anyone close to me knows I love to read. Maybe you are the same. Yet, when you think of everything you have read, how many books or articles truly changed your life?

The list is likely small but profound for you. 

In 2017, I picked up  Draplin Design Co.: Pretty Much Everything by Aaron Draplin which I thought would be a nice collection to my marketing knowledge. I didn't think much else about it until I started reading. After a few pages, my mind expanded on the importance of logos. Yes . . . logos. 

My business, Elisha Consulting, is a data-driven marketing agency. Over the years I have overseen many campaigns and branding projects. The logos I designed in the past followed fundamental best practices, i.e. designed in Illustrator, outline text, primary & reverse, etc. Yet, they were not complete. 

I did not know what they were missing until I read Draplin's amazing book. In a matter of months, something clicked. I started to see logos in a new light and picked up on the subtly of logos which most people never consider. Now, I feel more confident in my designs and want to share what I have learned. 

You Get What You Pay For

It is difficult for me to keep my composure every time a business owner says they can brand their company for $5. Seriously, you want to build a successful company that is profitable and lasts for decades on a $5 branding budget? I hope they pay more attention to detail with the rest of their business operations.

A logo is the fundamental component of any brand and, yes, they should cost more than $5. Here's why. 

Those $5 designs are simple productions which are reused over and over. The designer is not thinking about your business and how to come up with a custom piece. They are just recycling shapes or icons and changing colors and text. Worse yet, you might be getting the exact same logo as another company, not that I have seen that before (but I have). Also, does that $5 dollar designer have licensing rights to the icons and fonts they are using?

The point is you get what you pay for in business. Can you find a designer or marketing agency who does great work at a reasonable price? Absolutely, I know one :)

But be realistic, an amazing logo will rarely be found for $5. 

Think About Everything

The reason logos take time and money is that many variables need to be considered. Here is part of what we let clients know at Elisha Consulting. 

  • Detailed logos lose clarity as they shrink. When we are designing logos, we imagine what it will look like on a business card all the way to a billboard. Adding intricate detail means clarity will be lost on the smaller locations (business card, phone, etc.). Think of the most popular brands out there, Microsoft, Apple, Nike, Amazon, Google, and more. Their logos are simple and look great whether printed on a billboard or on your smartphone. 
  • You must think objectively as a business owner or decision maker. Don't let you style preference dictate your logo or brand. Yes, you want to enjoy the logo as you will see it daily, yet how will it be received by the wider public? Again, simplicity reigns supreme. Humans have been using basic shapes to communicate for thousands of years and will continue for thousands more. 
  • A logo should last decades. One of the reasons symmetry and shapes are routinely used is that geometry never goes out of style (paraphrasing logo legend Paul Rand). Many of the most influential brands have timeless logos, the best example is Coca-Cola. Small tweaks are made, yet for the most part, the logo remains true to original form. 

There are more items to consider. Make sure to always have a reverse option, i.e. reversing the colors to place on a dark background. Be original while not too abstract. Work through the favicon and social media dimensions. I could go on, yet the point is a budget designer is not thinking of everything. 

A good marketing individual or agency views a logo job through many lenses and will walk a client through multiple rounds of edits. As an example, see below. Here is a rudimentary example of three rounds. Note: this was done specifically for educational purposes and does not represent a true "round" process. 

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This would be considered a "modern" logo. Notice the progression in the letters "e" and "c." These are custom shapes which follow best-practice rules. The logo is simple, it is easy to read, it can be scaled up or down, and it would last decades. A good designer will think through everything and work collaboratively with a client to reach a final logo. 

Below is a recent logo we finished. Over the course or four rounds, we produced nearly 100 samples. We continually improved the design until we had something which felt ideal for the business. 

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Don't Neglect the Details

At Elisha Consulting, we have sat with many small business owners. I can regularly determine if a start-up will succeed or not based on a few observations. It is not the "idea" which makes or breaks a new business, it is the attention to detail. 

Has competitor and market research been done, is there a sales strategy, is there a viable market, has the leadership team been selected, among other important aspects. Logos and branding are no different. Instead of finding the cheapest option, why not find the option which best fits the business? Again, that does not mean the most expensive. Instead, it means finding a designer or agency who will work with the business as a team and overcome obstacles before they appear. 

We would be more than happy to sit and discuss how we can help design your brand with an emphasis on detail and vision for a positive return on investment. 

Matt Avery