In the coming months, Bella Lulu Ink will become a small arm of a larger company called Get Polished. We're so excited about the big changes in store and are working hard behind the scenes to bring our fellow entrepreneurs and bloggers many awesome tools! In the meantime, you'll see more feature series like this one.
Designing a logo and brand identity can be extremely daunting or incredibly fun. For those of us who enjoy graphic design or have a background in branding, marketing, public relations or other similar field, it's usually the latter. As a graphic designer myself with a background in public relations and marketing, I believe that hiring a professional to tackle this part of your company's formation is important and will pay for itself over and over again through the years.
SIMPLE, NOT COMPLICATED
In the last eight years, I've been involved in executing ad campaigns, graphic design, and branding for many different companies, entrepreneurs, and bloggers. A theme I've seen time and again is over-complication. Talking clients out of busy, overly colorful or otherwise distracting design is common in my field. I gravitate toward simple, clean, minimal design with lots of white space. Most designers I know do, and there's an obvious reason for that - it's what's most effective. Those who are put in charge of executing successful campaigns will tell you that simple is what we've learned to love (or maybe we've always loved it, and that's why we naturally gravitate toward the design field).
At its basic level, a logo is a mark used to identify a company. A simple logo is easy to identify and remember. Think about FedEx.
What a simple, easily identifiable logo! Most iconic brands have fairly simple logos. That's not a coincidence. The human brain is more easily able to remember a simple mark than a detailed image. Memory recognition is something we strive for in our industry. A logo that is quickly recalled is the epitome of success.
That's not to say that a logo must be one or two shapes and text. Sometimes text-only really works, as in the case of FedEx. The colors and the connected nature of FedEx make it distinguishable. Even in black and white, you would quickly and easily recognize this logo; additionally, can you see the hidden arrow made from negative space? For complex businesses, however, it is sometimes preferable to have a little complexity in the logo. I shy away from tons of graphics with text on top (on the side, in the middle, etc.), but sometimes a small, complex graphic can work for a complex business. Being simple doesn't mean only using text or a very basic shape. The new Betaworks logo is a great example of a simple logo that is complex at the same time. Being simple in logo design really means achieving four critical design attributes.
Simplicity is a huge benefit, as it allows your design to be more versatile. Overcomplicated logos are difficult to use across all platforms and media. Have you ever tried to make a busy logo a favicon? It's tough. Ask yourself how your logo will translate to something small, like a stamp you might use on an envelope when sending things to clients. Using a busy logo on a business card can even be difficult. Your logo should have the same impact regardless of size. While it's ideal to have secondary marks (think initials) that can be used in conjunction with your logo, they should be used minimally. Your logo itself should be able to be used across many mediums. You'll save yourself money down the road if you primarily use one logo. It's recommended that a good logo works at a minimum size of one inch without losing any detail. Even in the Betaworks case I mentioned above, their logo, while it has a somewhat complex graphic, still translates well across mediums.
Simple designs are timeless. The longer I design, the more I shy away from trendy elements. I don't want a trendy business name or a trendy logo because it will be irrelevant in the years to come. It will cost you money, time, and potential clients if you have to redo your logo entirely every few years. Many logos receive minor updates without losing the feel of their brands, like Kellogg's.
One of the first Kellogg's logos looked like this:
Over the years, it has been modified slightly without losing the entire identity of the brand and what people have come to recognize. The Kellogg's logo has stood the test of time because it began as a very simple, timeless logo. The bold color and the unique "K" have burned this logo into the brains of millions of people. And Kellogg's is a perfect example of using a secondary mark, as the red "K" can stand on its own as a mark so easily identifiable that customers don't need the rest of the name to figure it out.
Let's take a look at a few other iconic brands with logos that are so easily recognizable, they no longer require the business name:
A good logo features something unique without being too complicated or overstated.
While there are examples of successful companies with complex and busy logos, like Starbucks and Heineken, they are generally older, established brands. Life today moves at a faster pace. We are busier than ever before with our jobs now taking over our free time. Thanks to technology, we now have shorter attention spans. All of this translates into less patience and less focus in the consumer. A busy and cluttered logo is less likely to be noticed or understood than one that is more visually pleasing.
A simple logo is more likely to be remembered by customers. A detailed, busy logo may seem impressive, but in the end, will your customer be able to easily recall it? A simple logo will usually evoke instant recognition, which is important to your potential business. A memorable brand is more likely to translate into a trustworthy brand from the consumer's perspective.
When you're in the process of designing your logo (whether you're tackling it on your own or hiring a designer), keep in mind that while your logo should convey something about your business and in some way be distinguishable from others in your industry, it doesn't need to tell the whole story. The more a business tries to make its logo convey a complex story, the more forgettable the logo becomes.