Guys, what if I told you that research shows it only takes 10 little seconds for someone to form a first impression of your brand’s logo. Better yet, what if you knew it takes an average of 5-7 impressions for that someone to recognize it. Nothing like pouring on the pressure, but yes. Your logo’s design is a pretty big deal.
So, if you are in the trenches of building your sweet, small business and gearing up to DIY or hire someone to design (or re-design!) your logo, let’s talk. There are five key things you need to keep top of mind if you’re setting out to design a logo with a killer brand impact:
1. Understand why your brand is more than just a logo.
First thing is first. Say this with me, “A logo does not equate a brand and your brand is more than just a logo.”
Branding basics teach us that a logo is simply an expression of your brand. A “brand” is the promise that embodies the core values of your business and all the feels your customers will experience every time they interact and consume an experience, communication, product or purchase from you. Your brand creates the foundation to attract the ideal target clients that grow your business. It is a culmination of your business’ mission, unique value proposition, key values, positioning, physical and virtual locations, customer journey experiences, products and/or services, quality, staff, culture, color, style, design – of each and every tangible and intangible touch point your business expresses.
Your brand is more than just a logo because it is a representation of the strategy that defines your brand. So, while a logo often serves as your brand’s first impression, it is ultimately the last element created when designing your brand’s foundation.
2. Know what to do BEFORE you design a logo.
I know. I’m killing you. You’ve got a jammin’ name for your business, a brilliant idea for this logo and want to get designing (besides, that’s the fun part!). So, hear me out. If you have a brand strategy foundation and a brand style palette together, you’re killing it and are ready to move on down to #3.
For everyone else, I got you. Here’s the thing. If you hit design without these two critical foundations, you’ll end up running in circles around pretty and shiny ideas, trendy fonts, design directions... all without any meaning or focus. Besides, how do you know your brand’s style? What kind of design aligns with your mission? What look and feel will attract your target audiences? What fonts and colors are you using?
Taking the time to build out a brand strategy foundation and design style palette allows us to execute design with confidence and focus. It may feel like dragging your feet at first, but I promise it pays off when you hit the design table with a clear, grounded vision. Give it a try:
A. DEFINE YOUR BRAND STRATEGY FOUNDATION Have you completed the Morgatize Brand Discovery Workbook yet? Dude, it’s free! Get after it and define your brand strategy foundation in five easy steps:
B. DESIGN YOUR BRAND STYLE PALETTE
Designing your brand style palette is a super fun, visual journey. You love Pinterest as much as I do, right? Here’s a link to a fun board I keep called Brand Designs. It has oodles of brand palette examples. Notice how each palette defines a brand’s colors, fonts, style, images, logo and touch marks.
To begin creating your own brand style palette, first you need to zero in on colors, fonts and style. Go ahead and create a new Pin Board. On this board, curate a beautiful collection of pictures, fonts, colors, textures, quotes and maybe even other inspiring logo designs that represent your brand vision. It’s important to keep your pins grounded in the type of business your developing, the strategy and values you worked so hard to define and ultimately a style representative of your awesome target clients. With this mindset, pin away all.the.beautiful.things. Then, go back and review. Whittle down your board pins to ones that exactly embody your vision. Next, go further. Commit to a style. Choose your colors. Choose your fonts. Then, organize all these beautiful elements onto a brand palette. Whether it’s a physical print-cut-and-paste arts and craft effort – or a snazzy mood board built in InDesign, it doesn’t matter. How ever you get there, the goal is to define your brand style palette so you can move into a meaningful design direction.
3. Create a logo concept that meets the "Three R's" for killer brand impact.
With your brand strategy in place and your style palette ready to roll, you are READY to create a bangin' logo. As you do this, take a moment to think about key traits of successful logos out in the market today. I like to call these the Three R’s of Brand Impact: Readable, Relevant, Refined.
READABLE: It sounds so simple, but great logos are readable. This means font selections and spacing are easy on the eye. It also means the logo is designed to perform across small to extra-large formats.
RELEVANT: This one is a little trickier to explain because it’s one of those things where we know it when we see it – or don’t. For example, think of a beautiful, whimsical logo for a hair salon vs. perhaps a super graphic, modern logo for a freelance web programmer. A logo needs to be relevant to the market space in which it exists as well as the personality of the company it represents.
REFINED: It is SO tempting to jump on what is cool and eye-grabbing in the here and now – like brisk, modern typefaces, scripted hand drawn fonts and allllll the shades of grey. Listen up, I am not saying any and all of these elements wouldn’t be stunning and beautiful for your brand. The important takeaway is to design around a palette and concept that is timeless and meaningful to your brand strategy. We can exude professionalism with balanced, on-trend design without being trendy.
4. Top tips for the DIY logo designer who is not a graphic artist.
While I’d love to sweep up and design brands for all newbie SMBs, you’re here because you’re savvy, driven, and capable. That’s why I am even MORE grateful to have you as part of the Morgatize Community.
As you’re navigating the DIY logo route, here are the most valuable tips I could leave you with to hit the ground running... and please know there are no benefits in me sharing these resources with you aside from helping you knock-it-out-of-the-park:
Design for future growth. I know you’re going to take off and that there will be a point in time where you’ll need to bring in a professional design asset of some capacity. The WORST thing you could do is open to market with one logo, build recognition with your audience and then turn around and change everything with a totally different, new brand design. If your design skills are limited, start with a simple, beautiful text logo. Down the road, a professional designer can come in to help you evolve your brand using your signature font, colors and style… without a complete overhaul to the recognition you’ve established with your audiences.
You don’t have to have Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. Anything Adobe is $$$, amiright!? So, if you do not have access to any of the professional design programs out there, rest assured that there are awesome free and open source options. The top two I would recommend (with loads of available tutorials) are: / Canva: https://www.canva.com/ / Gimp: https://www.gimp.org/
Know your file types and color values. Once you create a logo, you will have to save it in various file formats to use across platforms, online, printing needs, etc. Understanding these up front is a tremendous help, so brush up on the basics with Logo Geek.
Save time with a font previewer. I can see you in Microsoft Word, pulling your hair out as you highlight your company’s name, hunt and peck through fonts, only to “try them on” one at a time. What if you had a free tool that could preview your name or text or whatever across all the fonts in your computer? You’re welcome: Free Fontviewer.
Get feedback before you consider it done. It is so easy to work in a bubble of your own opinion and preference. While ultimately the buck stops with you for your business, don’t lose sight of how important perceptions and impressions are to your brand. Toss your logo design around a group of people including partners, peers, family, potential clients and ask what they think. As I always say, here’s a hanger to leave your ego at the door. Be open and receptive to how their feedback can help you grow and refine a design that hits the market with a best first impression, every time.
5. Your go-to-market logo usage guidelines.
Last and most importantly, when designing your logo, you need to plan for usage and expression. In all things branding, consistency is key. Research shows that, “90% of consumers expect that their experience with a brand will be similar across all platforms and devices. They expect a seamless transition between web and device-native applications through color, flow, and overall quality.”
WIth that in mind, pull your brand style pallet back out and finish creating a running checklist that defines your brand’s visual experience. This includes your final logo and logo design, sizes, required surrounding whitespace, brand fonts, color values, imagery style, graphic elements, etc. Not only is this a key tool for you to maintain consistency across your brand assets, it is also a useful tool to provide outside parties you may need to hire.
How did you make out in designing a DIY lOGO with a killer brand impact!? Bring on your feedback, questions and don’t forget to share this post with your buds.
Next up in the DIY Brand Discovery Blog series, we’ll dive into understanding the keys to brand equity. Keep with me, I believe in you and will see you there!
Brand Discovery Blog Series:
[You're Here!] 5. How to DIY Brand Design: Logo & Brand Identity Design
9. How to DIY Brand Design: Top Titles Roundup
10. Exclusive Brand Showcase: Stay Tuned!