Have you ever tried to design a logo? It can be far more challenging than you might think, regardless of how artistic you are. This is because a good logo goes beyond simple aesthetic and into the realm of symbolism and metaphor – who doesn’t love a good metaphor? When a business grows to be a household name, the symbolism behind a logo becomes less relevant as that logo begins to be a symbol of the company itself. For example, let’s look at Apple’s original logo compared to their logo now.
The original logo depicts Issac Newton sitting under a tree with an apple over his head. CLEARLY they’ve simplified things a bit since 1976 (though kudos to the hand drawn artistry that was once the Apple logo). While there was a time when the Apple logo really represented something, most people now have no idea what its origin means. To them the logo simply represents the Apple Company.
While thinking up a logo for your brand may conjure Van Gogh like imagination, the reality is that your logo should be something an 8-year-old could draw. Think about the Nike “swoosh” logo. I’m pretty sure we could even drop that drawing standard down to 5 years old, which is probably why Carolyn Davidson was only paid $35 for it (err..and stock which is now worth about $643k). Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, even said he didn’t love the logo, but thought maybe it would grow on him. I wonder how he feels about it now…
At this point you’re probably thinking “I draw like an 8-year-old, I GOT THIS!” If you are thinking about designing a logo for your business or your brand, here’s a few key tips I’ve come up with while spending hours staring at logos:
- simplicity trumps complexity
- colors send a message, but too many colors can distort that message – three is typically the max
- your logo should mean something, even if you’re the only one who knows its meaning
- try and consider the future of your brand when designing your logo (i.e. if your logo has the word “coffee” in it and you end up selling sandwiches as well, how does that logo reflect your brand?)
- ask for other people’s opinions – your logo may mean something completely different to others than it does to you
I spent more hours than I would like to admit on my business logo for Ucraft Brew. Considering we haven’t even launched, many business gurus would say don’t waste your time with the logo until further down the road. For me personally, having a logo that I can be proud of gives me a greater sense of pride in the business as a whole. It can be difficult to attain a feeling of legitimacy when you’re only a startup (or pre-startup in my case), but something about seeing the logo makes me feel that this business is a real, tangible thing, regardless of whether we’ve made a sale or not. That’s value enough for me to justify the few hours spent designing it. The logo may change at some point, but for now, I’m pretty happy with it – at least more than Phil Knight was with the “swoosh”.
Got a logo that could rival Nike? Please share in the comments below!