For most businesses, acquiring or changing a logo feels like a momentous step. A logo, after all, is the face of your brand. McDonald’s is inextricable from its arches. Nike’s simple checkmark possesses almost supernatural communicative qualities.
But how do you measure the success of a logo? Short of a large-scale populist backlash on the order of the University of California’s recent re-design fiasco, success or failure is hard to quantify. There are, however, a number of questions you can and should ask as you consider a new logo. Here are the top five.
1. What was wrong with your old logo?
If your answer is “we didn’t have one” or “my kid drew it on Microsoft Paint,” then you can bet that your new logo is going to be a relative win. In most cases, however, the concerns are more nuanced. Typically, there are two reasons to redo a logo: either the current one no longer reflects your company’s character or target market (you’ve changed but your logo hasn’t), or it just looks dusty and dated (the world has changed but your logo hasn’t). The second reason is obviously quite subjective, so do analysis and tread carefully. A refresh can be a boon for business, but superfluous changes also pose a risk – at the very least, of losing what you paid for an unnecessary design service. It could be that there was nothing really wrong with your old logo at all.
2. What do you want from your logo?
Amid the excitement of getting a new logo, it’s easy to lose sight of how the item actually functions. Ultimately, the point of such a mark is to identify your business, but even this basic definition couches a question: do you want your logo to simply identify you as providing a certain service or belonging to a certain industry, or do you want it to distinguish you from competitors within that industry? If you own a dentistry practice, you may just want your logo to identify you as a dentist without the possibility of confusion. This is why so many dentists around the world use virtually identical logos (smiles, teeth, brushes, etc.) In most cases there is nothing to gain from setting oneself apart within the field– only a risk of alienating potential clientele. On the other hand, if you are looking to distinguish your brand from similar ones, it is worthwhile to choose a unique, non-obvious logo. The link between a peacock and a television broadcasting network is tenuous, but NBC’s design nevertheless served the company well, quickly taking on iconic status.
3. Does it work across media? Integrate into a broader branding scheme?
A good designer’s first order of business is to correct the layman’s tendency to think of a logo in the abstract. In fact, logos are generally material things: they exist on business cards, websites, store windows and billboards. That means they have to be legible at the scale of a penny and a hula-hoop alike, and as distinctive in black and white as in full color. An overly complex or awkwardly shaped logo may fail this test, even if it looks decent on a blank page. A great designer, however, will further propose a logo that supersedes itself as a stand-alone mark, instead forming a part of a cohesive, overarching branding scheme. Choose a color palette that you’ll be able to extend across a website and perhaps physical space. Select a typeface that pairs well with what you might use on your business cards or future ads. If you find that your logo constrains your various future design projects more than it opens up promising possibilities, then it was not successful.
4. What is the critical response to your logo and does it matter?
It’s reasonable to test the critical waters by polling your friends, family and colleagues about a new logo. However, there are a few caveats to keep in mind. First, not everyone’s opinion is created equal. Your designer is an expert (hopefully), while your friends are not. Their emotional responses certainly carry some validity, but remember that they might not have considered all the nuances of branding potential noted above. Second, not everyone is a critic – in fact, most people aren’t. Asking people to actively evaluate a logo sets up atypical conditions; most of your potential customers, unless they are graphic design enthusiasts, will not subject your logo to an exacting inspection. They’ll simply use it as a tool for identifying your business – that is, as intended. Once the logo is set and printed across your assets, you’ll have to weigh the occasional negative remark against the cost of re-design, re-printing, etc. Short of a full on scandal like the ones precipitated by The University of California, The Gap or Tropicana redesigning beloved emblems, it is almost never worth giving in. Human psychology promises knee-jerk negative reactions to change, but people eventually come around.
5. Is your design cookie-cutter generic?
As noted earlier, not every industry puts the same premium on an original-looking logo, and sometimes going into left field is even disadvantageous. A dentistry logo probably ought to look like a dentistry logo. Still, there are certain overused, cookie-cutter designs – an abstract, v-shaped man leaping for joy, a ring of crescents – that are fundamentally empty, failing even to identify a business with any meaningful concept. Something like this may work in a pinch or on a very temporary basis, but pay no more than whatever you think zero thought and a couple of minutes with Adobe Illustrator are worth.
If you’re able to answer these questions truthfully, you should be in a position to broadly assess the success of your logo. That’s probably the best you can hope for; more quantifiable rates of return tend to prove elusive with logo design. What really matters though, lies less in the product than in the creative person or team that created it. A designer who is skilled, trustworthy and responsive, who understands your business mission but isn’t afraid to challenge your design ideas, who thinks long-term and will be there down the road to carry out the innumerable little tasks that may arise, is invaluable.
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Well here we are…New Year 2013. How does it make you feel?
I always feel inspired, a fresh start, a time to make changes…to hope. And I feel the same this year. I love the New Year it’s like a blank canvas, a new exercise book to write in, opening a new pot of homemade jam. New Year 2013 gives me the opportunity to ask myself questions but I never ask them in a negative sense. I never dwell on the ‘what ifs’ or things that didn’t go perfectly. I’m a ‘cup half full’ person and like to ask…what can I improve upon this year, what can I plan to achieve. Now I don’t mean that I’m going to set myself huge unachievable targets, no, more in line with, what small changes can I make that will make a long term difference: such as how can I manage my time more efficiently, what tasks should I try to reduce, what should I be doing more of.
For those of you with small businesses like mine a lot of time is spent on administration, non-productive and therefore non-earning. How can this be streamlined? It depends on your type of business obviously but I think an important thing to do is NOT to check emails constantly. Turn off the little notification sound or envelope on your computer. There is nothing more distracting when you’re in the middle of something than seeing a little icon or hearing ‘that’ sound and feeling obliged to check. You then end up analyzing whether to continue with your work or to respond. Then your not concentrating on either.
I’m obviously not suggesting email should be ignored if your type of business requires it but if, like me, you’re are a small business trying to make the most of the hours in the week then I would recommending scheduling when you check and reply to your emails. You could check first thing, before lunch and 4pm for example, that way in between there are large chunks of time that you can set aside for your work projects, appointments etc. This small change improved my working week greatly.
Are you easily distracted by social media?
Well, retrain yourself if you need to. The tools are there to help yourself. If you have a busy week and need to avoid distractions but have things that you’d like to promote then schedule your posts. Both facebook business pages and twitter have their own functions to program the date and time you would like the post to appear. That way you can ‘blitz’ your posts by doing it all in one hit, I often do this one evening a week when the pressure of work is off. There are also helpful tools such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck that can help you post to several social media accounts at once and that can be a real time saver.
Failing that, if your only using social media for fun then if your have a separate computer for work and home just go to the trouble of blocking your own access to these websites from your work computer.
What can you do for your business this year?
The obvious things to do, if you have the budget are to invest in your business, to take time to think about whether it is time to improve your business’s branding. Especially for a small business trying to make there mark a good logo that can be used across printed literature, vehicle and building signage is always a worthwhile investment as we all make near instantaneous judgements about businesses based on their ‘look’.
The other main area is to look at your website, to ask yourself these questions:
- Does it look good?
- Does it do all the things that you want it to?
- Can you edit the content (If that;s what you’d like)?
- Can my potential clients find it? (i.e is it appearing in Google’s listings where you’d like it to?)
- Is it easy to navigate around the site (i.e does it have a structure that is easy for your clients to experience?)
- Is there information that is out of date that needs removing?
- Are people getting in touch having been on the site?
Well back to the subject of feeling inspired in the New Year…
I’m looking forward to this year…are you?
Despite these being somewhat challenging times for small businesses worldwide, on a smaller scale here in Normandy I feel that the English speaking businesses have a wonderful network for support and advice in Normandy Business Group. I will look forward to future Normandy Jelly Co-working days and to other ‘get togethers’, small business forums and other events.
Am I hopeful for my own business this year?
Well yes I am. I have made several (worthwhile) investments in terms of computer hardware, software and photographic equipment that I feel can help take my business to the ‘next level’. The feedback I received particularly about my wedding and newborn photography in the last year has been really encouraging. I’ve nearly finished my new stand alone photography business website and look forward to launching that as soon as I have finished a couple of other work projects. It doesn’t mean that I’m looking to do any less design work, on the contrary I love being busy and I love the diversity.
So how about you…what are your hopes for your business in 2013?
Website Design in Normandy. How do I get my online image right?
So how do I get my on-line image right to help my business in Normandy?
Well this subject covers many areas and I’m hoping to be able to offer some guidance to both new businesses starting out who’ve never had a website before and to established businesses who are deciding it’s time to improve and perhaps redesign their businesses website. Also, for those of you who’ve managed to develop your own website, I hope to give you some ideas to improve and develop it yourself.
I will add the additional articles in this series here over the coming months, so keep coming back :
- Graphics, Photography and Design
- Added functionality : Contact forms, Newsletter signup, Google maps, social media insertion.
- Keeping your website up-to-date : fresh content, blogs & videos
- Social media marketing : How it can be effective for your business
- SEO Search Engine optimisation : How to help your site rank well in the lists
So where do we start? Well from a visual point of view the first place to start is with your business’s branding.
It starts with a good logo design
Giving your businesses a stylish logo can, on its own, give your business an advantage. It really is worth investing in a well designed logo that can be used across all your advertising including printed literature and other articles such as pop-banners and road & building signs.
It all starts with good logo design
A good logo needs to be effective in both colour, black and white, large and small scale and your designer should take all this into consideration when helping you develop your branding. Have a look at your competitor’s logos and see what you think of their business by judging their logo design.
And what if I already have a logo? Well, if you’re not sure, ask the advice of a good designer to see whether it might be time to give it a revamp as even the biggest companies do from time to time.
What if I already have a logo?
Of course you don’t want to alienate your present client base by changing everything but can you take the opportunity modernise it. You might be concerned that changing your logo will put off your present clients. Think of it another way…if your logo is looking dated because it was created in the 90′s for example, you risk losing both old clients and potential clients by looking old fashioned.
For example, changing the typeface can make a big difference and removing out of date styles. This can be done whilst retaining any colour scheme that you have.
Change your logo’s typeface and modernise it
So that brings us on to the colours..
What is your website saying about your business simply by the colours it is designed in? When designing a website, we need to create a colour scheme which will evoke the right feelings in users.
As you know, colours have different meanings associated with them;
Warm colours will bring about sunny emotions and are widely used on sites that want to convey a feeling of happiness and joy. As a case in point, yellow became a popular colour in web design in 2009 when the global economy wasn’t doing very well and companies wanted their customers to feel sunny and comfortable on their site.
Cool colours are often used on professional and clean-cut sites to achieve a cool corporate look. Cool colours stir up emotions of authority, establishment, and trust.
Colour schemes for your website
So what else affects the look of your website?
Fonts: In recent years website designers have been able to expand the number of stylish fonts they use on websites thanks to web fonts. Before we were very restricted to a dozen or so system fonts some of which were very dated but now we can pull in stylish fonts knowing that they will display correctly on all computers and devices.
Fonts / Typefaces for your website
Good designers will help you develop your websites with text that is featured in columns much like newspapers. No line of text should read all the way from the left over to the right. The reason that newspapers and magazines are printed in columns is to make the lines short, so after you read one line, it’s easy to find the start of next one and this applies to website design too.
Another thing that designers can do is adjust the amount of space between the lines of text. This also makes the text easier to read and creates a more spacious, clean look to your website.
All these changes can make a big change to how your website is perceived by your potential and present clients.
> Next month’s article : Graphics, Photography and Design
For any advice on your website’s online image please contact Sabina Lorkin on 02.33.90.99.41 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information visit http://www.anibasdesign.com or follow Sabina and Anibas Design on Facebook