January 24, 2013

The Importance of a Great Logo

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Think logos don’t matter much? Just ask Gap.

The retailer went through a major brouhaha when it rolled out a rebranding of its iconic blue-box logo, shelving the redesign after just one week due to public outcry and ridicule. Called “awkward,” “a monstrosity” and “horrid” by industry experts and regular consumers alike, the logo fell flat fast.

Tropicana had a similar problem in 2009 when its new design fizzed out with longtime OJ drinkers who felt the refresh was generic, losing the distinction that the straw-in-the-orange image had brought to the cartons for so many years. (Check out an interesting analysis of the packaging differences here.) The company scrapped the new design after realizing just how connected consumers had become to its branding.

Granted, this is something most businesses don’t have to worry about to this degree, because most businesses haven’t achieved the level of logo recognition that behemoth brands like Gap and Tropicana have. Still, their failures are a good reminder that logos do have a place in a marketing strategy, although some have declared them dead (while a logo isn’t the be-all, end-all of a company’s success, we think that’s a wee bit hasty, and Nike’s swoosh would probably agree).

Whether a business would benefit from a symbol or would be better off with just a distinctive way of styling the name is up for debate, but you do want to have some kind of branding. And you want to do it right as soon as possible, to avoid having to change it up down the road after people have already become accustomed to your look.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to logos:

[checklist]

  • Keep it simple, and choose something that looks good as a thumbnail and on a large sign. A logo that’s unrecognizable when small (like when used online) isn’t helpful.
  • Don’t try to design it yourself, unless you happen to be a graphic designer with a good understanding of marketing. Creating a standout logo is more difficult than it appears. Find someone who understands the mission and personality of your company.
  • On the other hand, as important as a good visual identity is, you shouldn’t break the bank getting one. It is a worthwhile investment, but it shouldn’t cost half your annual revenue.
  • Tell a story. In the same way a picture is worth a thousand words, a logo should be a visual expression of the story you want your company to tell. [/checklist]

A logo might not make or break you, but a well-thought-out one will help you look polished and professional, which is never a bad message to convey.

Mario Medina

Mario is the Creative Director of madison/miles media. He has a wife, two kids, a dog, a fish (but it might be dead — hard to tell) and an unhealthy obsession with Batman.