Your logo is not as important as your designer wants you to believe and more important than your clients believe. Look at it another way. How powerful are cultural symbols? The United States Flag, the Nike Swoosh, the Yin and Yang, the Christian Cross, the Jewish Star, the Nazi Swastika, the Peace Symbol, a Raised Fist, etc.
These all invoke a response that is emotional, psychological, intellectual, and maybe even physical. These are symbols. They are made powerful by what they stand for. With a simple word or image, we are triggered to think and feel deep layers of meaning. When creating a logo, more important is creating what it stands for. What does it mean? What story are people a part of who relate to that symbol? You are creating that story for people. It must be told to them over and over in compelling ways. You are creating that depth of meaning for people to relate to. Your logo does not inherently tell that story. You have to make it tell that story. But people get it backwards. They think that you spend all this time thinking about the hidden and double meanings of your logo and that is what makes a great logo. No. The people you will be working with will not care about any of that. They will not care that the color you pick is a blue color designed to instill a sense of trust and loyalty. If you have that logo and you cheat them, that logo will always be a symbol of lying and deception instead of trust and loyalty. Your logo does not make you. You make your logo.
What I am referring to of course is branding. Branding is the reputation of your business. Branding is what decides whether your logo will be a success or a failure.
So here is how you should make your logo. Decide the mission of your business. Figure out the “What”, “How”, and “Why” of your business. Figure out what you are trying to accomplish. Then make a logo that reflects to you and to your target audience. You want a logo that is adaptable. It should look good on your website, business cards, letterhead, clothing, a building, a car, a tattoo (you never know), etc. How do you ensure that it looks good on all these things? Keep it simple. Simple is timeless. Look at Nike. For years, Nike has spent billions of dollars to show that its logo symbolizes the peak of human physical accomplishment. Has a day gone by that you have not come across their logo? My guess would be that if you went outside today, at least one person you came across had the Nike logo on their person somewhere. Think of that logo. It is extremely simple. In that, is has its power and impact. Because of that simple image, and the billions of dollars they have spent on successful branding, that logo has effectively worked its way firmly into our daily lives.
Keep it simple. Your logo should be easy to consume and understand. You do not want people to spend hours looking at your logo trying to comprehend it. It is not the Mona Lisa. It is not a piece of modern art. You want people to look at it and in nanoseconds understand it, develop feelings of trust, recall fond memories, and be inspired to take an action beneficial to the mission of your business.
Let’s talk for a moment about the power of association. This is a powerful force that you can use to powerfully increase the impact of your logo. Again, let us look at Nike for a great example of leveraging the power of association.
Nike is well-known for sponsoring athletes. Now you may or may not have a personal connection to Nike. Nike is a big corporation after all. It is hard for any individual to develop a personal connection with a big business. It is much easier to have a personal connection with another person, in this case an athlete. In fact, personal connection/word of mouth is still the most effective marketing tool. So, if Nike wants to connect with a specific audience, they will effectively get to them through the star athlete that that audience connects with. If that audience sees their idol associated with Nike, they will want to be associated with Nike as well. They will be inspired to take steps available to them to make that connection. They will buy a pair of shoes.
Nike knows about the power of association. They have successfully capitalized on it through the sponsorship of numerous athletes. With the signing of a contract, they have leveraged a lifetime of connections that that person has made. They have successfully used this strategy to become the company that they are today.
Now their logo does not just mean high-quality athletic shoes. It also has captured the essence of Michael Jordan’s every iconic move and Tiger Woods legendary Master’s win when he was young and his incredible comeback from scandal and personal catastrophe to champion once more. It has captured the global appeal of Cristiano Ronaldo. In this new age of mass information and media, it has captured LeBron “The King” James network and following since he came into the NBA straight out of high school.
A simple, easily-consumable, timeless logo packed with meaning and symbolism. That is your best bet when it comes to a logo. Do not spend tens of thousands of dollars on designing and creating a logo. Most logos should be able to be created for less than $1000. Then spend as much as you can afford on creating power-packed meaning and story that your logo symbolizes.