‘A well designed logo is a reflection of the business it symbolizes. It connotes a thoughtful and purposeful enterprise, and mirrors the quality of its products and services.’
Paul Rand – designer of IBM & UPS logos
When talking to businesses about their brands, business owners often say ‘I already have a logo.’ It can be one of the first investments new businesses make to establish themselves. However, many businesses fail to understand what a well designed logo can, and should, do for their business. Here are five questions you need to ask when considering your logo design.
1. Does it Translate to Black and White?
While your logo might look fantastic in full colour on your website, how does it look in black and white? It will not always appear in colour – for example if you advertise in a newspaper, make a stainless steel sign or just want some photocopied handouts. Not every logo will look great in black and white or grayscale. A professional graphic designer understands how logos will look across a range of media and knows how to design a beautiful logo that will work in both full colour and black and white, in fact a good designer always begins a logo design in black and white.
2. Is it Scalable?
Sure it looks great on your business card, but what about in the tiny circle on your company’s Instagram profile? And how would it look on a billboard, pull up banner or the side of a delivery van? Will it translate well to a one colour tote bag, embroidered on a t-shirt or printed on disposable coffee cups? When you first get your logo you might only need it for your letterhead and business cards but as your business evolves your logo will be used in many formats. You should have a vector version of your logo which can be scaled as needed without losing any of its impact. JPEG and PNG formats are not scalable.
3. How Recognisable is it to Your Audience?
The Golden Arches, Nike Swoosh and the Apple logo are all instantly recognisable even when they appear out of context. What do you think of when you see those logos? Does your mouth water when you see the McDonald’s one? Your logo should reflect the values of your business, product or service on a subconscious level whenever the consumer sees it. Even when you scroll past a logo on social media, or see a business card on someone’s desk, your mind is taking it in, making associations with past experiences with the brand and anticipating future ones. On a subconscious level you are already starting to make subconscious affinities with the brand. That might seem like a tall order but a professional designer will have a deeper understanding of how shape, colour, typography and balance intertwine to create positive associations in the mind which reflect your business values.
4. Can it Be Trademarked?
If your logo is closer to clip art than an original work of art it might already be in use by other businesses. Unfortunately, some businesses find this out the hard way. Buyer beware: if you buy your logo online can you be sure that your business is the only one using it? Your company logo is an important asset of your business. Getting it trademarked gives you redress if another company tries to use a similar logo for their business to piggyback on your hard work and success. Trademarking can be tricky so it is always best to get professional advice. At CUBE Design we work with a professional trademark lawyer to ensure that our clients’ logos are protected.
We have written a useful document about trademarking with our trademark specialist, which you can read here https://cubedesign.ie/trademarking/
5. Is it Simple Yet Distinctive?
If your logo has effects like graduations, colour fade outs and a lot of tiny details then you will face problems with scaling, printing in black and white and with certain print finishes, for example foiling. Some of the most iconic effective logos are deceptively simple looking – consider the examples I gave earlier of the Apple, Nike and McDonalds logos. Although simple they are instantly recognisable – you can be sure that it took a lot of creativity and thought to make them look so simple.
If your logo doesn’t answer yes to all of these questions then it is not working as hard for your business as you are! This does not always mean you have to shred your letterheads and business cards, or start from scratch and lose whatever recognition you already have. Your logo might be a diamond in the rough which simply needs a redesign of some elements. Logos can evolve successfully overtime, but rarely do so without the intervention of a professional designer.