One of the most commonly held mistakes or misconceptions regarding logos is that they are one and the same as the brand.
For example, if you are looking for Starbucks locations and you see the logo, you’re basically saying, “That is the Starbucks brand.” The Starbucks brand in your mind is this mermaid-looking character set in green, white and black.
Well, that’s absolutely incorrect. You have to understand that brand is a broader concept than logo.
Think of two circles. One circle is huge, and this is your brand. Another circle is very, very small, and this is your logo. Now, place the logo circle inside the brand circle. What this means is that your logo is your brand, but your brand is not necessarily your logo.
Your brand is something more. Your brand involves values that people associate with when they see that logo. But it also involves the values that come to people’s minds when they hear the name of your business. That’s your brand as well.
Also, when people go to your business and they enjoy the coffee or they enjoy the books or they enjoy your plumbing services, the range of emotions they feel, their overall assessment of the experience they just had, as well as many different factors, play a role in your brand as well. Because brand, ultimately, is the big deal that you should be focused on.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you should completely drop the ball as far as your logo is concerned. I’m not saying that you should completely skip out on your logo and pick any random logo, and call it a day so you can focus on your brand.
Well, if you were to do that, you would not be paying close attention to your brand. You will be doing your brand a big disservice because you might be shooting yourself in the foot.
Instead, you have to look at the values that your business brings to the table. You’re not just solving a problem, but you’re representing a particular human value.
For example, when people go to a Starbucks, they’re looking for quality coffee, that is true, but they’re also looking for an environment. They’re looking for a predictable and consistent set of values that they can grow to rely on.
The value of Starbucks is that it is a welcoming place. It goes out of its way to greet you. It goes out of the way to be courteous. It goes out of its way to make you feel like you matter and that they recognize and appreciate you.
Now, compare this with another coffee shop, maybe a coffee shop around the corner or across the street. When you go in, people are rude. You have to wait and make eye contact with somebody for them to serve you. When they’re serving you, they are very dismissive and sometimes insulting. Sometimes they’re even confrontational.
Which coffee shop would you rather go to? Would it really matter if the corner mom and pop shop charges a fraction of the price Starbucks charges? Probably not.
Do you see how this works? You go to Starbucks because it’s a brand. It is not a logo. There are certain expectations that you have about the brand that’s why you go back again and again and again.
Keep this in mind. If you’re able to do this, then you would be able to keep your logo distinct from your company’s brand.
Your Logo is Failing You If It Does Not Do This
A lot of people think that getting a corporate logo is just another task list item.
Every single day, most business people have a to-do list. These are the things that they’re supposed to do for that day. They know that they are going to be pushing their business forward and serving their business’ best interest if they go through this list and knock off as many items in this list as possible.
Sounds good so far, right? Well, here’s the thing. If you put “Get a logo” on your task list and you order from a place like Fiverr, don’t be surprised if your business is not helped. In fact, don’t be all that shocked if your business is actually harmed by your decision.
How come? Well, your logo cannot do branding. It can reflect branding, it can reflect that identity that you have built so far for your business, but it cannot create that identity for you.
You have to do it. Nobody else will do it for you. You have to step up. And unfortunately, a lot of people think that they just need to get a graphical logo and call it a day.
Maybe they would reverse engineer a competitor. Maybe they would get inspired by a renowned international logo. Whatever the case may be, they think that as long as the logo looks good and is distinctive enough, that’s all they need.
This is a serious problem because your logo is failing you when you start thinking along those lines. Why? You have to promote your logo. You have to fine tune it. And most importantly, you have to deeply integrate it with the kind of values you want people to automatically think about when they interact with your business.
If people engage with your business at some level or another, you want them to have some sort of association regarding a series of values.
For example, I’m not a big fan of McDonald’s burgers. I know for a fact that there are tons of other local, small-time, mom and pop, one-man band burger shops out there that just blow McDonald’s out of the water.
Whether we’re talking about taste, texture, presentation, freshness, you name it. Most of these places just completely obliterate McDonald’s. It’s not even close. But why do people go to McDonald’s all day, every day? Why do people feel that they can’t help but eat there?
Well, it’s very simple. When you go to McDonald’s and you see the golden arches, you gain a sense of assurance that the quality you will get, as far as the food and the service are concerned, will be consistent.
In other words, if you go to Seoul, South Korea, Tokyo, Japan, Manila, Philippines, Los Angeles, California, San Francisco, California, Rome, Italy, Berlin, Germany, London, England, or Washington DC and all points in between, if you find yourself in a restaurant with the golden arches, the food is going to have the same texture, the same flavor, and the people greeting you, regardless of language differences and cultural variations, will have the same attitude.
In other words, the value you’re looking for is reliability. You’re looking for a place you can trust to not let you down.
Now, here’s the thing. The quality is not that high, but at least it’s not that high consistently.
Let’s say, you’re going to rate McDonald’s burgers from 0 to 10, if your rating for McDonald’s is 3, it does give you quite a bit of peace of mind to know that that 3 will be preserved whether you’re eating at Tokyo, Rome, London, or San Francisco. Do you see how this works?
Your logo has to project the value that you want people to associate with the quality of your business. Otherwise, your logo is failing you.
If it’s pretty or it looks good, it’s worthless. Because if that’s all it brings to the table, then it’s not serving you. It has to connect or associate with certain values that will get people to come back again and again and again.
There’s a common misconception in American corporate business culture that if you want the very best, you have to pay an arm and a leg. In other words, the idea is that if you pour a lot of money into something, it’s only a matter of time until you get the very best the market has to offer.
This is absolutely wrong. Seriously. I don’t even know where to begin in pointing out why this is so wrong.
While it is true that if you pay peanuts, you will probably attract monkeys, it doesn’t work the other way around. It doesn’t automatically follow that if you spend enough money to buy a BMW that you get a BMW. It doesn’t work that way.
Why? Well, it’s not because the people you hired for a tremendous amount of money aren’t trying. They definitely have all the incentive in the world to try to do a bang up job.
It’s not like these people haven’t been around the block before. After all, they are charging a lot of money and they get premium clients. That’s not the issue.
The issue is having the right standards. The issue is having the right objectives. In other words, the issue is being properly guided.
Unfortunately, a lot of corporations really drop the ball because they assume that just because this company charges a tremendous amount of money and deals mostly with corporations, that they would know the right logo to produce at that exact time.
It’s as if you are automatically assuming that just because somebody has done quite a bit of work in your industry and has dealt with businesses such as yours, that they would instantly know what to do.
That’s assuming too much because, at some level or another, you are assuming that they can read your mind. You are also assuming that they are some sort of industry experts.
Last time I checked, logo designers, and logo design firms don’t really focus on industry. They take whatever business walks through the door. That’s just the nature of the beast. That’s the way the game is played.
And to automatically assume that somehow, some way, just because they have a track record of attracting certain players from specific industries that they would automatically know how to create an amazing logo with almost no input from the client is a fantasy. It really is.
You’re basically just hoping and wishing that they will somehow, some way, hit the spot. I’m telling you, at this point, the chance of them missing the mark is actually quite high.
You have to understand that it is not the cost of the logo that determines whether it’s going to be successful or not. It’s not the amount of dollars and cents you pour into the logo creation process that would ultimately dictate whether that logo will get you more customers or would make your existing customer base more loyal.
You know what will make the big difference? It’s not the money that you spend. Instead, it’s your attention to detail, your guidance, and your hands-on management of the logo creation process.
In other words, when you ask to always be in the loop without necessarily micro managing the project, you stand a chance of getting the kind of logo that will actually produce results.
Now, don’t misunderstand me. This doesn’t mean that the logo must be pretty. This doesn’t mean that the logo must instantly make sense to you. What matters is whether the logo will speak to your target audience in such a way that you get the results that you are looking for.
Learn to keep these things separate and apart from each other. Just because something is pretty, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will convert. Do you see how this works?
So focus on what works. And the good news is that logos do not have to be expensive. You don’t have to pour a significant chunk of your business revenue into a nice looking logo.
Personal logos have been cropping up all over the place. In fact, it’s very easy to come up with a personal logo.
Maybe you can come up with your favorite color. Maybe you already have an idea regarding your favorite animal. Perhaps you even have some sort of motto that you keep saying. Maybe your friends associate this motto with you.
Whatever the case may be, if any of the above are present, chances are, you already have more than enough to get a personal logo going. You only need to go to fairly low cost outsourcing platforms like Fiverr to get clients.
You advertise your services, people check out your page, they like what they see, and they order your service. Pretty straightforward. This is not rocket science. This is not brain surgery.
With that said, personal logos have a much lower threshold than corporate logos. Make no mistake, if you want a top notch corporate logo design, you cannot screw around. You’re going to have to pay real money.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily meant that you’re going to have to pay an arm and a leg. Those two things are different. Paying real money means you’re not going to be paying a song for the logo.
Paying real money doesn’t mean that you are going to be throwing spare change at the problem to make it go away. That’s just not going to happen. The logo that you’ll end up with probably will do more harm than good. But this means that you’re going to have to spend real money.
Now, this doesn’t have to be a whole lot of money, but it has to be real money. It has to sting, at some level or another.
The reason for this cost difference between corporate logos and personal ones really lies on purpose. The purpose of a personal logo is to simply make you stand out from everybody else. The purpose of personal graphics really boils down to making your personality and uniqueness shine out.
That’s pretty much the extent of personal logos. That’s what they’re about. That’s their job.
Now, this is different from a corporate logo. A corporate logo, sure, it makes your business stand out. I mean, you just look at a Starbucks logo. It’s obviously different from other company logos in its industry. But it goes beyond that.
When people look at your logo, certain concepts come to mind. For example, when I look at a Starbucks logo, I think of standard quality. I think of standard quality in terms of the coffee beans tasting well, as well as the overall quality of the coffee that’s been brewed from those coffee beans.
I also see standard quality in the fact that whenever I step into a Starbucks, I get greeted warm-heartedly by the staff. And it’s not just in one location. It’s basically all over the United States, all over Southeast Asia, and all over the world.
That’s what people are looking for. They’re looking for values. They’re not just looking to be reminded that this particular graphic is the official graphic of a company that provides a certain range of merchandise or services. It goes beyond that.
It’s not just a marker. It’s not just some sort of reminder. Instead, it speaks to values. It speaks to priorities.
So keep this in mind when spotting logos. It can mean the difference between you making money and you losing money hand over fist. Believe me, in the beginning, it’s going to be very hard to tell the difference.