10 Brand Identity/Logo Design Mistakes
and How to Avoid Them
–– by Mike Hamers, Lightspeed– Edited by Kirsten Nelson, C3 Writing
When executing your brand strategy, creating a successful logo design is one of the most significant elements of business development. In addition to presenting your name to potential customers, your logo is used to convey professionalism, your company values and your promise.
Brand-management professionals understand that a brand consists of much more than the logo. A brand is a well-thought-out framework of messages, tone of voice colors, names and vision. A brand reaches its audience via numerous applications including website, stationery, brochures, signage, and more.
Despite the importance of a great logo design, many small businesses unwittingly take a few missteps in this part of the business development process. However, these mistakes can be avlopioided. The following are some common mistakes that small businesses often make when deveng their company logo. Ignoring these could result in failure to capture the attention of your audience.
1. Strive for consistency.
A brand stands for only one thing – your company. Steer clear from constantly changing how it appears. Be consistent in how you represent your identity across all media. A logo representing too many things confuses the target customers. Develop written/visual guidelines on how the logo should and shouldn’t be used for consistency. This is a job for professionals. Give credence to your company’s worth by hiring a professional who understands your organizations goals and mission.
2. Be distinctive.
Don’t settle for ordinary, let other companies be ordinary. Your company is unique—it has a distinctive culture and market presence. Capture this intelligently and thoughtfully.
Clip art makes your brand look cheap and unprofessional. Unoriginal or generic symbols that don’t mean anything are confusing, meaningless and are a waste of money. Don’t be a copy cat and don’t plagiarize – it just hurts your credibility. Invest in your company’s success.
3. Text-only logos are restrictive and boring.
We rely on sight for information. A strong logo mark is a good way to capture prospects attention and show them who you are and what you do. A visual logo is easier to remember than a product name or service because we remember in pictures.
Carefully consider cutting-edge logo approaches that grab the attention of potential customers. A well-constructed logo helps clients recognize what you do far better than a simple acronym with stylized font treatment. If you just can’t resist a text-only logo, consider a strong, unique typeface – preferably custom made.
4. Identify your target market.
Attempting to appease everyone is just too idealistic. Focus more on how your company sells in the niche market for what you offer. Get to know your intended clientele, what they like, and how to energize them. Don’t leave the brand positioning out of the equation when designing or choosing a logo.
5. Special effects may not be so special.
Developing a successful brand logo requires more than creativity. You need to plan and execute wisely by considering media challenges carefully. Special effects such as drop shadows, glows, textures and extreme colors, can create a design that looks great on the web but may be difficult to impossible to reproduce in print and/or look bad in black & white. A professional will use effects minimall – when overdone these effects just look amateurish.
6. Color is a key element of brand identity.
Color is extremely important in branding. Color creates emotion, triggers memory, and adds sensation. When someone looks at a logo, the color is the foremost thing that they remember. In fact, marketing research shows that 80% of visual information that we take in is related to color and 60% of the decision to buy a product is based on color alone. This knowledge has led many companies to trademark their color within their industry, such as: Kodak Yellow, John Deere Green, Target Red, UPS Brown, T-Mobile Pink, 3M Post-It Note Yellow, and Cadbury Purple to name few.
A good designer takes this into consideration when choosing the color scheme. Take time to consider what each color means within the particular industry, culture, and/or country in which you plan to offer your products or services.
Color carries enormous technical challenges in ensuring consistent appearance in both print and on-screen, digital output vs traditional printing, variance in different software, effects of background colors and paper textures (glossy vs matt) when printed. Understanding the RGB for web, CMYK and Pantone colors for print is critical. There are no off-the-shelf solutions. When used effectively, color helps build meaning, effects memory, and influences product differentiation.
7. A meaningful tagline is critical.
Develop a tagline that represents your brand. Taglines are a great way to transform the obscure–your company or organization–into words that mean something to your prospects.
Taglines should be short, memorable, and reflect the emotions you want your brand to convey. The most important thing to keep in mind is relevance to your target group. If the one thing you are trying to stress is security, put that in your tagline. If you want to stress customer service, put words similar to “friendly” or “courteous” in your tagline. Your tagline shouldn’t be your mission statement. It should be a summary of your mission statement in a few words. It should be easily quotable and add meaning to your branding message.
"A business card without a brand promise is simply contact information."
8. Develop a logo that reflects your brand name.
You want customers to quickly understand what your business does, rather than have to think hard on what you offer? Your logo must function well and add clarity and meaning to your message. If potential customers know nothing about your company or product after looking at the logo, you have failed.
9. Understand file types and resolution.
It’s pixels vs. vector. Your logo must be scalable. Low resolution, pixel-based web graphics don’t work in print. Jpegs and gifs will become pixilated or bitmapped when scaled up from their original size, so they do not work well in print media. For optimal results use vector graphics, graphics that are paths instead of pixels. Not only do they look great, they provide a crisper, more consistent appearance on any media.
10. Keep it simple, clean and legible.
Excessive and complex designs are difficult to remember. The “too busy” logo is a roadblock to communication. Just because you have Photoshop, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to add filters or effects to your image. You’ll create a stronger image with fewer elements.
Avoid fonts that are too ultra thin, too predictable (like Times Roman and Helvetica), or too funky to be legible on a business card.
Take a few moments to evaluate your personal branding efforts. Want to avoid common mistakes in developing your brand logo? Now is the perfect opportunity to apply these proactive tips and get back to building a dynamic and powerful personal brand.
Contact me directly if you have any further questions!
Mike at 303-527-1222 or email me at: email@example.com.
To view samples of my award-winning logos (pdf), click here.
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