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Logo Design for Small Business: What You Must Know to Get it Right

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
Logo design for small businesses dodgeball marketing

Ask yourself:

  • Does your logo communicate to consumers what your business does and the factors that make it unique and better than your competitors?

  • Is it clear and visible on all devices, paper, and signage?

  • Are the colors in your logo clear and consistent on all devices and in print?

  • Is your logo memorable or easily forgotten?

  • Is your company identifier too similar to a competitor’s?

  • Does your logo feel like it’s from another era?

If you’ve reviewed these questions and have doubts about your current logo, it’s probably time for a refresh or a completely new one.

This guide explains what you need to know to develop a logo that consumers will remember and respond to and that will stand the test of time.

Why Small Businesses Need Amazing Logos

Today, small- and mid-sized businesses compete in an increasingly noisy world. They’re in direct competition with larger, more established companies that garner much of the attention online and in the real world. To be competitive, they must find ways to get noticed. Customers who are just discovering your brand need something to remember you by. A good logo will keep your brand top of mind.

One of the critical mistakes businesses make is to chase logo design trends. (Three-dimensional and animated logos are examples. Remember those?) Trendy design results in logos with a limited shelf life that must be refreshed or redesigned regularly. And every time you do that, you lose the brand equity and consumer trust you built with it.

What is a Logo, and What Purpose Does it Serve?

A logo is a symbolic artwork that signifies your business. A good logo will:

  • Embody, not just represent, your brand.

  • Be instantly recognizable across all types of representation.

  • Stand the test of time.

Considering anything beyond that is unnecessary.

Logos: Design and Cost

Many business owners worry that the cost of professional logo design could be too high for them to afford.

Many agencies charge organizations tens of thousands of dollars or more to come up with logos. However, it is possible to hire reputable logo designers for far less. Check online services like Upwork and local agencies to find an affordable logo designer. Look for one with experience in your industry. Ask to see samples of their work. Check online ratings and reviews to ensure they’re good at what they do and provide professional-level service. Taking these steps will help ensure you get a great logo at a price you can afford.

Characteristics of a Memorable Logo

Let’s look at what makes a logo good in greater detail.

It embodies, not just represents, your brand.

Many would argue that this is the number one characteristic of a great logo. A logo is meaningless if it doesn’t express the essence of your brand and business.

A logo is the centerpiece of any company. It’s the visual representation of a brand. It must convey, in one quick look, all the emotions, thoughts, connections, offerings, benefits, and value of the brand and the business backing it. It’s the visual shorthand for your company. People must “get it” at a glance.

Before a logo can express your brand, you must understand what your brand is. What values, practices, benefits, products, or services set your organization apart and make it unique?

Your logo is meaningful because of your brand, not the other way around. Famous logos are famous because of the fantastic companies they represent. Think Nike, Apple, and Target. The logos are memorable because they represent great companies.

In art, it’s perfectly fine to make choices based on aesthetics alone. However, a logo’s main reason for being is to communicate brand identity. Arbitrary design choices don’t do this. All design elements that are part of a logo must serve the brand.

Next steps:

  • Define your brand before starting a logo design project.

  • Find an experienced designer you feel comfortable partnering with.

  • Communicate the most important aspects of your brand to your logo designer.

  • When viewing logo designs, check that all the elements that are a part of it communicate and represent your brand.

A good logo must be instantly recognizable.

As your brand’s visual representation, your logo must be recognizable at a glance. When people see it, they must automatically think of your business.

Here are some ways to do that.

  • Your logo must be unique enough that consumers think about your brand and not any others. Ensure that it isn’t similar to a competitor’s logo or one from a well-known company. Have several people look at your design to find out if it reminds them of another logo.

  • It must be easy to recognize in all applications. It’s probably wise to prioritize digital applications, since it’s how most people will first experience your logo today. However, you should ensure it will work on signage, packaging, uniforms, and other ways your business will use it. Bold logos, like Nike’s swoosh, are usually effective when used differently. Logos with too many tiny details can be problematic because they disappear on smartphones and become exaggerated and unrecognizable on signage and billboards.

Tip: Be cautious about the use of color in your logo. Unusual colors and gradients can be difficult to view online or print and reproduce on fabric. If you use colors in your logo, keep them clear and distinct. Test them in various executions to ensure they look attractive and are presented consistently.

Next steps:

  • Check out your competitors to ensure your new logo doesn’t resemble theirs.

  • Guide your designer to make certain you get the distinctive logo you want.

  • Test possible logos in a wide range of sizes before committing to one.

  • Check that your logo design works well in color and black and white.

  • If a logo design is doubtful for any reason, send your designer back to the drawing board.

The logo stands the test of time.

The final critical trait of a good logo is timelessness. This is important because good branding is consistent branding. Every time you change your logo, you lose the brand equity and consumer trust you’ve built with it.

While it’s impossible to know for sure whether a logo will remain timeless, it’s critical that your designer not rely on current trends when developing your logo. Instead, keep them focused on your brand and what makes it unique. This will help you get an identifier that will last as long as your brand.

Take a few days to review possible logo designs. Think about the present and future. Figure out whether a logo seems so geared toward today that it may not be okay tomorrow.

Next steps:

  • Make it a priority to develop a classic logo that could represent your brand forever.

  • Avoid embracing design trends. Instead, focus on creating a logo that is a visual representation of your brand.

  • Ensure your logo is substantive enough that it can be updated occasionally without losing its identity. (The Starbucks mermaid is an excellent example of this.)

Logo Design: The Bottom Line

Having a memorable logo is critical to small business success. It’s the primary way consumers will keep your brand image top of mind.

Developing a great logo may not be as costly as you think. What’s critical is that you work with a designer who understands your business to create a classic identifier that perfectly represents your brand.

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