Logo Design - Why it matters
If you were running for public office, would you dye your hair purple?
If you were applying for a job at a daycare, would you show up with a broadsword strapped to your hip?
If you were asked to speak at a conference, would you face the back of the stage and mumble?
If you really cared about any of the example activities listed above you would not do these absurd things. You would try to put your best foot forward.
Politicians try to look trustworthy in their dress, daycare workers attempt to appear responsible, public speakers project their confidence to their audiences and your business should as well.
First impressions are forever and they are reasonably accurate.
When we meet new people, we form a lasting impression very quickly... that impression is remarkably accurate.
"...research has shown that people make relatively accurate and persistent evaluations based on rapid observations of even less than half a minute."1
The same effect applies to your corporate logo design. What signal does your logo emote?
Why does it matter?
If we accept that your logo is the vanguard of your corporate personality, then we must accept that it should portray positive things about your company. Is it possible to speak through an image? Can your brand actually tell something about you and your work before a potential client ever meets you or sees your work?
It can and it does. No matter what, your logo already speaks to potential clients. What it says is impacted by a few factors.
The subject matter of a logo speaks volumes. A skull says something different than a skunk and a flame speaks differently than a flower. Even on a very elemental level shape plays a role.
Consider a regular square:
The first "logo" is quadrilateral and plain. It might say "stability" and "precision." The second is the same square but rotated. It might say "alert" or "mobile". The third is still a four-sided element with different angles and it may say something a whole lot more complex. It may say "innovative" or "flexible". All abstract, all elemental and they all say vastly different things.
Give great thought to what your business does and don't discount even the slightest graphical element. It may make the difference between brand clarification and a total misunderstanding.
There is no shortage of clipart and canned logo elements on the web and anyone with MS Word can combine those elements into a graphic. But there is something to be said for crafting a logo in the correct tools and with a discerning eye. Consider allowing an actual designer a whack at your brand identity.
Can you spot the "logo" with better craftsmanship? To some it will be very obvious. Others will simply have a queazy feeling from the poorly crafted one. This is because we have a subliminal response to things that have crisp lines, good alignment and geometry and nice proportions. Even though BOTH logos have the same elements and typography, one stands out as far more professional.
Even as simply stated as this example is, it makes a difference to your clients. At the very least they will have a higher opinion of your company because you have taken the time and money to invest in a serious designer for your brand.
In a previous post I playfully wrote about color theory. It is widely accepted and intuitively obvious that color affects perception. While color perception is somewhat subjective there are color principles that can be universally applied to help your brand say the appropriate things.
Cool colors are more useful for emoting certain feelings of calm while warm colors are comforting and approachable. Similarly, cool colors recede from your vision while warmer colors advance toward the viewer. This phenomenon can be used by an experienced logo designer to enhance viewer perception. This is extremely difficult to attain in MS Word. :)
Without writing a textbook on the subject of logo design (there are others more qualified to publish than I) these are some of the most elemental concerns with regard to logo design and composition. Others are crucial as well: repetition, scale, shape, texture etc... All that to say that I would encourage any business to take accurate stock of their brand identity.
What does it say.
You know it matters.
1. New York University (2009, March 13). Scientists Identify Neural Circuitry Of First Impressions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 1, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090308142247.htm