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5 Essential Elements of a Small Business Logo

March 25, 2020 In Design

As a small business owner, you no doubt have lofty expectations for your company. You may not have the name recognition of brands like Apple or Nike (yet), but you want your business to offer quality work and stand for strong values. For many companies, their logos will the first opportunity to communicate these fundamental aspects to their audiences.

To truly be effective, your logo must be more than a cool design. If you’re just starting your business or considering a rebrand, there are five essential elements to review as you develop your design. Read on to discover how your brand can create that powerful and impressive logo you’ve been hoping for.

Is It Simple?

An intricate design may look provocative and catch interest up front, but too many details can actually confuse customers and turn them off. When people see a complex image, it can overwhelm their brain, making the message hard to comprehend or remember. Logos that follow a simpler ideology are appealing for a number of reasons. They’re easy for consumers to recognize, reproduce well on to any background or material and clearly convey your message.

Target’s bullseye is a great example of a simple company logo. It fits their company perfectly – you don’t even need to see the name Target to know the logo is theirs. In fact, a 2003 study confirmed that 96 percent of American shoppers were able to identify Target by just that single bold red logo. It helps the image is a motif most people are already familiar with, but we would argue that now when you see those red and white circles, you might think of the retail store before a shooting range. Your own logo may be slightly more complex than one shape and color, but try to refrain from cramming in your company name, tagline, founder, year established and so on.

Is It Timeless?

One mistake some small businesses make is trying too hard to appear ultra-modern or looking to cause a stir. A trendy design may turn heads for a few years, but you should consider whether or not you will still be happy with the logo in five, 10 or 20 years. Every business needs to tweak or evolve their brand occasionally, but regular overhauls can negatively affect your brand recognition.

The Walt Disney Co. logo has changed only marginally since 1929, when Walt Disney created a scripted font derived from his own signature. Over the years, the script has been paired with various icons, including Mickey Mouse and Cinderella’s Castle, but the big, looping W and D letters have proven that they stand the test of time.

Is It Appropriate?

An effective logo isn’t going to look the same for every company. A playful symbol may work for a startup tech company but could seem insincere for a personal injury law firm. When evaluating your logo, ask yourself if the design is meaningful for your industry and if it fits your company values. The colors and typography you choose will also impact the message it sends to your customers. If you want a second (or third, or fourth) opinion, consider asking friends or colleagues what they think. They may notice a problem that you’re missing.

FedEx has a logo that is extremely meaningful for a company who needs to be seen as capable and reliable. Each aspect of the logo, including the font and color choices, was thoughtfully chosen for the meaningful characteristics it signifies. The thick, bold type and saturated colors communicate a sturdiness and strength that its customers are looking for from their shipping company. This logo even includes a clever and relevant hidden message – the negative-space arrow between the E and X is a subtle yet effective reference to their industry.

Is It Versatile?

As the visual representation of your small business, your logo will be everywhere – on your website, packaging, print media, the list goes on. Your logo design must be legible whether it’s shrunk down for your Twitter profile photo or blown up on a billboard. It’s important not only for brand consistency, but also for your bottom line. Using one vector for every kind of ad and material will cost your company less in the long run.

The NBC peacock logo manages to maintain its versatility even though it’s far more colorful than most brands. It works because the white outline creates space between the colored feather, it leaves plenty of space between elements and avoids minute details. Their choice of color also ensures the logo will be visible against any background. It always appears clear and vibrant, whether it’s shrunk into the corner of your TV screen or projected on a wall behind Bob Costas.

Is It Memorable?

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the best logos leave a memorable impression. They make customers pause and stick with them even after they’ve moved on to the next ad. A memorable logo has that “it” factor – it’s unique, dynamic and sends a strong message. If your logo could easily be confused with a competitor’s, your company will not make an impression on your audience. When faced with a choice, customers won’t be as likely to purchase from you if they don’t remember you.

If you need an example of a memorable logo, just think to yourself which brands and logos you’re most familiar with. Nike, Apple, McDonald’s, Starbucks – each of these logos could be identified by nearly any person on earth. They’re all bold, one-of-a-kind images that you can recognize from a mile away. Even if you prefer one of their competitor’s products, you know these brands instantly. That’s the sign of a truly effective logo.