Logo Design or Branding? You Can’t Have One Without the Other
What comes first, logo design or branding strategy? It’s a question that most new businesses must grapple with as they work to put themselves out there. In many ways, designing a cool logo to serve as a recognizable rallying point first might seem like the obvious answer. But what good is a logo if there is no meaning attached to it?
As tempting and inspiring as it might be to (literally) go to the drawing board immediately upon starting your business, your logo will hold so much more value if you first establish how you want to convey your brand identity to your target market.
Establishing Your Brand Identity
To establish lasting customer relationships, your audience needs to connect with your brand on an intimate level. Think of it like this—you want to become BFFs with your customers, but you can’t just hand them a friendship bracelet the first time they meet you and say that makes you two besties. They need to get to know you first, and in turn, you need to get to know them. This is where your brand identity comes into play.
Lasting friendships form over common ground, so take some time to identify your company’s core values, mission and key differentiators, because these are what your ideal customer will want to align with. Be sure that you and your team are very clear on your brand identity, because unless everyone is on board, from sales to marketing to customer service, your customers won’t be able to really get to know you in a meaningful way.
Building Your Strategy
Once you have established your brand’s identity, you need to figure out how to introduce yourself to your target audience, but—spoiler alert—it isn’t time to design your logo quite yet. Instead, get with your marketing team and talk about how you want to build those relationships with your customers. How will you get them to know who you are and what you’re all about? This is often where taglines come into play. From Nike’s “Just Do It” to Walmart’s “Save Money. Live Better.,” some of the most recognizable brands out there can be summed up in just a few words that are now ingrained in our subconscious.
Designing a Logo
Now that you have a solid handle on your brand, it’s finally time to design a logo. But just as with creating your brand identity and marketing strategy, it’s vitally important to put some serious thought into the design you choose. A great logo isn’t just cool to look at. It is a simplified symbol of what your company stands for, a recognizable representation of your brand itself.
Think back to that friendship analogy from earlier: When you look at a photo of a close friend, you see in a flash what they mean to you and what you share together and that is what gives the picture its value. The same goes for a logo. It only holds its meaning for your target audience if you’ve worked to build that relationship, so the design you choose, from colors to shapes, should really count for something.
Elements of a Great Logo
While there’s a lot that goes into making a great logo, here are a few key points to keep in mind.
Flexibility. Think of where your logo will appear and how it will look there. A great logo should have the ability to shine anywhere, from a business card to an app to a billboard.
Longevity. Trends are tempting, but a great logo (we’re looking at you, Coca-Cola) holds up over a long period of time.
Balance. A great logo has balanced elements, so that it doesn’t feel as if the design could tip to one side or another.
Simplicity. Great logos aren’t busy. You know how your grandma used to tell you to remove one accessory from your outfit before leaving the house? The same goes for a well-designed logo.
Color. We all know that colors hold a lot of subconscious meaning, so the ones you use in your brand’s logo should be chosen very carefully.
In conclusion, if you really want your logo to work for your brand, it pays to take the time to create a strong foundation up front. If you do so, your logo could soon be as recognizable as the Nike Swoosh or the Golden Arches.
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