Logos are a hot topic for discussion in almost every business group or forum I’m in online. People love to debate the price, as well as whether you:
- can design it yourself,
- could get away with something done for cheap on fiverr.com, or
- need to hire a professional.
But everyone agrees that having a logo is integral to starting a business. As important as having a product or service to sell. After all, it’s what is going to make you recognisable in the marketplace.
Let’s be honest; launching a business can be more complicated than solving a Rubik’s cube. You have BIG plans and a million and one things to do. There is:
- equipment to buy,
- marketing to organise, and
- clients to find.
Everything costs either time or money, and sometimes both. The kicker is that while money is pouring out on expenses, almost nothing is trickling in.
And a logo can be a big ticket purchase, depending on the option you choose for its development. It’s a significant investment for a start-up business.
So, is it an investment you need to make?
What a logo is and isn’t
First of all, what is a logo and what is its role in your business? The Oxford dictionary tells us that it’s a noun and defines it as:
“A symbol or other small design adopted by an organization to identify its products, uniform, vehicles, etc.”
It’s a practice that has been in use for centuries by people who want to make their work identifiable in any setting. Used by people such as:
- farmers branding their livestock or crates of produce
- artists signing their creations.
Did you pick up that I haven’t mentioned fonts, colours, or suggested uses? That’s because all those things aren’t required to create your brand mark. Do you need those things? Yes. You’ll use those to create a consistent look and feel across all your business collateral. They are colleagues to your logo to build your business brand. The logo may influence the primary colour palette, but that’s all. Choosing typography, tone of voice, imagery etc. will be a separate project.
So a logo is only a simple mark to make it easy for potential clients to identify you in the marketplace. Answering ‘does your business need a logo?’ is deciding how to make your company identifiable.
Now we’ve established what it is, let’s work out what you need.
Keep it simple
For many of us, starting a business is equals parts exciting and terrifying. It’s like drawing on a new sheet of paper – you want to get it right the first time and not mess it up.
A logo isn’t something that is once and done. It’s a representative of your business that will grow and evolve, like the website and product lines. Consider the first version a starting point instead of the finish line.
Many well-known companies first logo is unrecognisable when compared to the current version. And often it’s a few years into the business that it becomes a version that evolved into the design of today.
Let’s look at three brands to see how the logo has changed from the first version to one you’ll see on their website today.
As soon as you see the flowing white text on a bold red can, you think of Coca-Cola. It’s a brand that understands the power of consistency in their marketing but it didn’t start out that way. The product began as an experiment by Atlanta pharmacist, Dr John S. Pemberton in 1886. His plan had nothing to do with establishing a global brand. He wanted to develop a unique soft drink to sell at the soda foundation.
The story began in 1886, but the recognisable ribbon logo didn’t happen until 11 years later in 1897. Since then, the company has continued to refine the symbol to create the current version.
One of the simplest and most recognisable brands is Apple Computers. There is no supporting text mark, it’s only a symbol and yet we all immediately know the brand. Yet the first Apple logo was a complicated illustration. One more suited to an orchard than a technology company. So, it’s no surprise that Steve Jobs opted to change the logo in the early days of the business.
He wanted a more straightforward design, which led to the simplified apple we know today. As simple as the design is, the symbol has undergone several transformations in the last 40 years. Each revision has still retained the shape that makes it such a recognisable brand today.
Fuzzy Ink Design Studio/Creative
Before you think that logo evolution is only for big business, let’s look at what I’ve done for Fuzzy Ink. I opened the doors in November 2009, and there have been six iterations of the logo during that time.
I developed the original logo with only myself in mind. Something I see many new businesses do. I thought it was cute, fun and quirky and didn’t consider what it said about my business. So, is it a coincidence that during those years many people thought I was a tattoo artist? Probably not.
Redesigning the logo removed any confusion about the type of services I was offering. Removing the doodle and settling for a text mark, I was able to create the impression I wanted potential clients to have of my business.
So, does your business need a logo?
My vote is yes. Every business does need a symbol or text mark to make it identifiable.
Your first logo is a starting point that can grow and change with your business. Don’t overthink it, or try to be too complex or clever. When it comes to your logo, less is definitely more. After all, the reason for a logo is to your products and contents easy to identify in a crowded marketplace.