Why You Shouldn’t Try to Design Your Own Logo
Logos are not brands
The topics in this article you will never even come across when you design your own logo. Many businesses, small and large, as well as self-employed or “mom & pop” stores, design their own logo. They understand that a logo is the business name along with an image that accompanies that name or industry. A pasty shop will have the name and a small clip-art image of a rolling pin for example. That can work, and in many cases, online “logo builders” will have this basic setup too. Even with Artificial Intelligence built in along the process, there will be key-words associated with images that go along with that topic. Here is a good example. There may even be a suitable typeface to go along with the logo.
However, logos are never that simple and a lot more goes into a logo design than that.Logo designers in many instances have to try to even convince clients why they need a professionally designed logo instead of you trying to design your own logo. But that’s ok since professionals know their craft better than anyone. There is nothing wrong with explaining as long as it is done correctly.
Many famous logo designs don’t even have any imagery associated with the brand name. Many fast food restaurants, for example, don’t have pictures of the food they serve next to their brand name. However, many times self-designed logos or logo builders will almost always have a cute image next to the name. The Apple logo is not an image of a computer that then says “Apple”. Imagine if they did. All their other product-lines such as the iPhone or watch would make the logo seem out of place. (And also just look plain weird.)
Apples’ goal here was to create a logo that was memorable and for buyers to instantly associate it with their brand. This is because businesses need to think long-term and create a memorable logo that people will remember and remember the experience they had with that business. An Apple logo also looks good at small and large sizes.
Logos will work really well when done professionally because it’s not just an image of a company. A logo will remind the customer of the experience they had in dealing with the business. Logos are not brands either.
Many times when you design your own logo, you are not thinking of your target audience or ideal customer. You are designing for yourself and how you like the logo. A logo should have a mass market appeal or target specific shoppers or visitors. This is where a professional logo designer can help with this vital start to the whole logo design process.
Who is the target audience?
Determining who the target audience is is going to make the hard design work pay off for many years to come. It is not a one-time effort that once completed is over and done with. It is an image and experience that should pay off for a long time to come if done right. Get the logo wrong and it will have a negative effect on every customer that views the business. Many times over. Quite often visitors will not even know why they don’t like the logo and they are not supposed to either. They are not judging logos all day as a professional designer might be doing. Clients are looking at the business image as a whole and the logo is a huge part of that.
Visitors will associate the company with the logo, they shouldn’t be associating the logo with the company.
Why? The business should define the logo. The logo should not end up defining the company but in many situations, this is what happens when you design your own logo. This also applies to website design. Not having a good foundation and knowledge to start on a graphic design project is a very bad start to any project. For example; a modern gym or exercise studio should not be using a serif typeface or old-style typeface. A modern typeface would be more appropriate here. But what if it was an exercise studio for seniors? Should the typeface change? What if it had a 100-year history? Again, who is their target audience and what is the message?
What is the message?
This may be the most important part that goes into a logo design. Business owners need to know what their overall message is. When you think Nike, several keywords come to mind such as sports, energy, movement, lively, running, apparel, comfort, speed
etc. The Nike logo is perfect here. The Nike name also is in all caps and leaning to the right, again showing motion. Even without the name and only the iconic “swoosh” everyone knows who it is and what it’s about. (Granted they have a large marketing budget, but you get the idea.)
Determining what’s the message will also help a business look at the big picture. It helps the brainstorming process on what they are about. What is the main message or emotion that needs to be conveyed? What is the brand going to be known for?
A good logo designer will grab keywords in the description of what the company’s message is about and brainstorm with those ideas changing it from words to a visual form.
This can be done with a typeface alone, just a symbol or image, or both. It depends on what the message is, what the designer feels is best and even where the logo will be seen. A small detailed logo won’t look good on small business cards for example.
What makes you different?
What makes you different from the competition? Even in a highly competitive industry, there is usually something that makes a business unique. A logo can help a great deal in getting noticed in a crowded market showing an instant image that looks different from the rest. The last thing a logo should be doing is simply blending in with everything else. Logo’s should not be shouting back at the audience but they shouldn’t be near invisible either. To balance this could be to keep to a typeface only design so as not to show disrespect or insensitivity in a particular industry, yet still drawing attention to potential clients. (A hospice or funeral business, for example, may be looking for this type of logo.) Logos are not advertisements for a business. When you design your own logo, you can easily get this wrong.
What are the goals of your brand 10 years from now?
A business may change its line of products or general message several years from now. For example, a shoe apparel company may start with dress shoes only to several years down the line start developing more casual shoes. A classic logo design would probably be less appropriate if the shoe line were to change to more modern and casual shoes. One example of this is the Shell oil company. Originally it actually sold seashells! They certainly changed the product, however, since Shell is such a large company with another massive marketing budget, it could “get away” with it. Nokia originally was a rubber company and it’s original logo had a fish!
Some very interesting logo design changes can be found here. Notice how many of the original logo designs were very elaborate and complex. They most likely would not look good on any stationary or even business cards.
So it is important to remember what the goal is for the brand and to think long-term into the future on what the possibilities may be. Creating a logo that is too specific may not be the best choice for every business. In other cases it may be perfect, showing a company that is devoted to a specific niche. When you design your own logo, you may not know which direction to take.
This is also where design trends simply do not fit in with logo designs. A trend is temporary. A logo should be designed in a way that will still be suitable several years from now. This can especially come up with less experienced designers or when you design your own logo. They simply look at the competition for a particular client’s field and end up with a similar design since it is the current trend. Even more so, self-designers also end up in this particular conundrum. They, unfortunately, possess no design skills so the best option is to copy or have online logo builders make it “easy.” This also applies to clichés. They are simply overused, uninspiring and easily at risk of just fading into the background.
New ideas and designs will help put the spotlight on your logo. Clichés and trends quickly turn stale and dated. This is why the question of where a company sees itself in several years from now is so important. Logo redesigns are risky, expensive and the last option. Avoid ending up in this scenario.
Has your logo designer gone through these steps with you?