Do You Really Need A Logo?
Possibly. Maybe not.
Does your business need a logo? I mean, really need a logo? Think about it carefully. One of the first things startups and novice business owners look to do is contact a designer to have a logo made. Or, they rush over to Fiverr or Canva for the 'clearance isle' of logo design.
So, do you need a logo?
The answer is yes and no. Of course, you want to get noticed and stand out. So, it's easy, right? Maybe. Maybe not.
"Fork in the road"
Over the last 20 years, I have been contacted numerous times by new business owners and hobbyists asking me, "do you design logos?" Well, the short answer is yes. However, in my latter years as a designer, I found a cute little analogy which has helped some people understand why they need more than a logo, while some I just pissed off in the process.
It goes something like this...
If you've just started your business and solicit for a logo, it's like buying four tires for a vehicle you haven't purchased yet. Sure, those tires may have good tread, and you may have gotten them for a bargain, but what you need is a vehicle which your tires are a part of. Without the vehicle, having four tires alone, doesn't help you get to where you're trying to go. You need the vehicle. Whether it's a 'beater', or small economy sized, you need the viable means to help your journey. Later, when you've had some success, you can upgrade or trade it in for the newest model, but you need the vehicle. In other words - you need the brand identity system, not just a logo.
Frankly speaking - yes, your business can afford to benefit from a logo, but that isn't enough to decide that you need one just because. You need a brand identity system your business can use to get you noticed and grow. In a manner of speaking, get you behind the driver's seat.
What does a logo actually do for your business? In its simplest form, a logo identifies you. But you must remember, your logo is not your brand.
"Your brand is what people say about you when you're not in the room." - Jeff Bezos, CEO-Amazon.com
Likewise, your website, social media presence, product or service, is not your brand; it’s merely the visual element used to identify it. Benefits of a logo are important and can help a business so, let's explore this a little...
A logo can help you...
be remembered by customers
be contrast amongst your competitors
Yes, the above are true, but who’s to say you can’t do them without a logo? By looking at some real life examples we can see just how this correlates. Do you know what Arnold Schwarzenegger's logo looks like? What about Tony Robbins' logo? Maybe you've clicked on these sites by now and noticed they don't have a logo. Very successful people who are also businesses with products and services thrive and grow without a logo.
So, for the last time - how do you know if you need a logo? Well, it’s not as simple as “I have a new business idea.” But seeing you've made it this far, and I haven't frustrated you too much,
You probably don’t need a logo if…
your business idea is more of a hobby. Your customers are made up of mostly friends, family and co-workers while you’re still working a 'nine to five'.
you’re still experimenting, figuring out what you do and for whom. Most often, the first 1-3 years is an experiment-phase that's full of ebbs and flows, not to mention - changes.
your product or service is directly tied to your personally or your notoriety is mostly, if not all about you/your name.
you don't have the money or time to invest in brand identity system.
You probably do need a logo if you…
want to position your business as an expert-practitioner of a product or service, preferred and admired by your customers
are looking to develop an online presence but don’t have a brand identity system. The identity system should ideally come before (or in conjunction with) the development of the website and helps define the full scope of your brand’s visual identity (colors, fonts, etc.).
have a business that has gained traction and thriving, and you are ready to level-up by investing both time and money to develop your identity system.
A logo in conjunction with your brand identity system should always be clear, memorable and applicable across varying mediums and platforms. Like the 'clearance isle' logo mentioned above, startups and new business owners often start out with a logo they believe is good enough, permeate it throughout their business, and when they reach the pivoting point and need to scale - they are apprehensive about parting with their logo when it clearly isn't the best solution moving forward. For this topic of discussion, you can check out "Breathe; Rebranding doesn't have to be scary!" for a rant about how to navigate this sensitive subject.
I may get the tooted nose or side eye for taking a jab at Fiverr and Canva, but after being in the industry for over 20 years, across four continents and designing for various industries, affordability does not have to be the determining factor when investing in a logo. For you out there - take a 'chill pill' and then, you are free to fire off on how you used off-shore design for your business's logo.
Clarity is key and alignment with both your business's values and your customer's experiences is paramount. I've had to 'fix' business's logos many times after the prior designer could not deliver a solution. It happens, but you can fix it by having more conversation, asking more questions and not settling for a designer who just asks you of your favorite color, font and what you're thinking about how your logo should look. If you knew outright - you wouldn't need a designer.
Commit to discovery and strategic thinking about how your customers will interact with your product or service. What they smell, touch, taste, see, and how their experience is fostered from the time they are introduced to the point they are a loyal customer. These are all viable considerations when building a brand identity which yes, is comprised of a logo.
It's a journey, however, a journey worth taking.
Until we meet, remember - good design is good business, and good business gets noticed.
Author - Michael K. Bigos Founder - Focis Branding© & Design Solutions @focisbranding firstname.lastname@example.org