Sunbird Brand Bites: Episode #4
Sunbird Brand Bites is a podcast where we answer real questions from small business owners and solopreneurs around building an irresistible brand.
As a strategist and graphic designer who have worked with over 100 small businesses, Bianca and Mara have decided to share their best advice for solopreneurs in these bi-weekly episodes. In the fourth episode of Sunbird Brand Bites, Mara and Bianca explain everything you need to know about designing a logo.
Episode #4: What goes into a good logo design?
Qualities of a good logo:
- It’s simple.
Before she explains the importance of simplicity when it comes to logo design, Mara makes sure to clarify that when she says simple, she is not referring to the trend of minimalism. She means that it must be simple in terms of it being easily understood by your audience. In other words, “things need to be simple to be memorable.” Your logo shouldn’t have too many elements, because that’s too many things for your audience to comprehend and remember. You should just have one strong concept that will resonate with your target market.
- It’s timeless.
Your logo needs to “stand the test of time,” and the best way to do that is to “be careful you’re not doing things just because it’s fashionable.” That goes for your brand as well. Make decisions regarding your logo, and all your other visuals, around strategy. Don’t do things just because they’re on trend. Trends are temporary, but your brand values aren’t.
- It’s versatile.
Your logo needs to work in different mediums and formats. Your logo design might look great when it’s big, but when it’s small it might not look so great. It might work against a black background, and then disappear against a white background. It’s important to test out your design in many different conditions to make sure it’s always legible.
- It just makes sense.
Mara admits that making sense “sounds really obvious, but I don’t think people realize how easily other people can get confused.” For example, you may have chosen a logo design that is very personal to you. You know exactly what it means, but someone who just stumbled upon your business might not. The most important thing is that your logo design makes sense to your audience.
Steps in logo design:
1. Develop a strategy.
This involves asking yourself the right questions about your business and your industry. Figure out what your brand is about, and who you want to speak to. Find out what your competitors are doing, so that you can figure out how to differentiate.
2. Exercise your creativity.
Tap into whatever brings you inspiration. If you’re inspired by words (like Bianca), create a word cloud. If you’re inspired by images (like Mara), create a vision board. This can be done physically or digitally, such as creating a Pinterest board.
3. Do some sketches.
There’s nothing like putting pen to paper because, as Mara says, “When you’re in front of the computer, you’re just in a purely execution mode, and I think that tends to lead to something a little bit more dry.” She also advises you to start in black and white, so you’re not distracted by color, and you’re just focusing on the design.
4. See how those sketches translate digitally.
Now it’s time to load those sketches in your computer. This is where you check if it still looks as good as you envisioned it on paper. This is also when you check to make sure your design hits all four qualities of a good logo.
5. Get feedback.
When Mara says get feedback on your logo designs, she means from your target market, not just your friends and family. It’s important to make sure your design attracts the people who are actually going to buy from you. She also stresses the importance of not only asking your target market which design is their favorite, but why. This is to make sure they like your logo for the right reasons. Make sure the characteristics they associate with your logo are the ones you want to be associated with your brand.
General tips for logo design:
- Be cautious of logo trends.
Some logo trends we see quite often are the minimalism and hipster trends. Mara describes minimalism in terms of a logo design as “just a square and a single sparsely spaced word in the middle.” The hipster trend involves a lot of quirky glasses and mustaches. As mentioned in the “timeless” portion of Mara’s four qualities of a good logo, Mara warns to not design a logo based on trends! Gap is infamous for falling into the minimalist trend back in 2010, and changing their font to Helvetica (at that time Helvetica was a trendy font). The public hated their decision because their logo ended up looking like one of a tech company, as opposed to retail.
- Don’t differentiate just for the sake of differentiating.
Differentiating is extremely important in branding and logo design, but you should also be mindful of the norms of your industry. If everyone’s look in your industry tends to be softer, it may help you stand out if your look is a little bolder. However, if being organic is a huge part of your industry, using neon colors in your logo might send the wrong message. Make sure you’re standing out appropriately, and for the right reasons. Always keep your strategy in mind.
- Don’t immediately assume your logo is the problem with your business.
When you don’t seem to be hitting the goals you set for your business, it can be easy to just blame your visuals. But don’t be so quick to paint your logo as the culprit. Mara says that disliking your logo could be—and often is—the result of a deeper issue. Keep referring back to that strategy, and see if the problem is internal first.
Listen to Episode #4 of Sunbird Brand Bites now: