Your logo is talking. Do you know what it’s saying?
Your logo is the centerpiece of your branding and marketing efforts, so it’s worth having a logo you love, that accurately reflects your business, and that appeals to your prospective clients on multiple levels.
When your logo sends the wrong message, it can cost you. When it sends the right message, it makes a great first impression and can help boost sales. Use this 3-step assessment to know what your logo is saying to potential clients. Then you’ll know whether to love it—or leave it.
Color is the probably the first thing that people will notice about a logo. So, the colors of your logo should ideally relate to and speak to the type of service or product you offer. If the color is “off” then potential clients may feel a negative response, which can be unconscious and subtle.
Plus, if the color sends the wrong message, all of your other branding elements and sales copy will have to work that much harder to overcome the off-putting first impression.
A few years ago, my local bank went through a re-brand when it was bought out by a larger bank holding company in a neighboring state. Among the changes, they refined their logo and changed the color scheme from green to a navy blue.
Honestly, it took me a while to get used to the color change! I thought their logo and color scheme were perfectly suited for the services they provided. In time I got used to the new blue look, and realized they are reflecting their history, stability and conservative outlook with the blue scheme.
Color impacts humans both physically and psychologically. Therefore, we can use color in a logo design to elicit specific responses from customers.
Think about the logos of the top four or five fast food restaurants: McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC, and In and Out for example. What color do they have in common? Red. Red means passion, and taking action. Perfect for a place designed for high customer turnover.
Then there’s yellow: easy to spot from the road, and very cheerful, but you don’t want to stay too long.
And finally, orange—which fires up the appetite! Their logo designers clearly knew how they wanted customers to act when seeing these logos.
Color theory can be pretty complex, so I simplified color associations for purposes of logo design. Check out the chart below for the physical and emotional impacts of color. (You can pin the expanded infographic to your business board for future reference as well!)
Look at this logo based on one I saw in a Facebook group, asking the group for feedback. Based on the color, what do you think the product is?
The product this logo was trying to sell was environmentally-friendly laundry detergent, and eventually a line of home cleaning products.
I love lavender, but question its use here. Plus, the fonts feel disjointed. I’m not sure if the product is modern or traditional, based on the font choice.
Now look at this logo, which I re-designed using the color principles. Can you see how it’s more befitting the product?
The second assessment is readability—are the words in your logo easy to read and understand? Anyone just glancing at your logo should be able to comprehend what it says in an instant.
If we’re making our clients decipher or guess what our logo is saying, they’re probably wondering if all interactions with our company are going to be as difficult.
The main ingredients here are the font style and size, as well as the spacing and effects used on the fonts.
Here’s a handy reminder of font styles taken from my design glossary. Fonts are broken down into four main categories.
Serif: A serif is a small, decorative stroke at the end of horizontal and vertical lines of a letter. Times New Roman is a serif font. Serif fonts are considered professional, authoritative and traditional in their appearance.
Script: A type of font that mimics cursive handwriting, ranging from simple to swirly and embellished. They appear elegant, personal and/or more causal depending on the font.
San Serif: “Sans” means “without” in French, so a sans serif font is one that is without serifs. Examples include Arial and Helvetica. San serif fonts tend to feel modern, stylish and cleaner than the other types of fonts.
Slab Serif: This is like a beefier version of a serif font. The serifs are thicker and chunkier; they’re used in headlines and announcements. Poster Bodoni is a slab serif.
As a general rule, only use script fonts sparingly and never (no, really, never) use a script font in ALL CAPS. It’s completely illegible!
Look at this example, again based on a draft logo I saw in a Facebook group, for a real estate company that specializes in older, traditional and Victorian-style homes:
Wow—so much going on, right?
Here’s my re-designed version for comparison:
So much easier to read, isn’t it? I kept the keys—perfect for a real estate company, but I refined the color from a hot pink (not very Victorian) to a deeper shade of burgundy. Then I ditched the script and stylized fonts. For the name, I used a traditional, strong serif font, and then simplified the font for the tagline (and edited the tagline to make it more concise).
As you can see, an easy to read font that supports the overall mood and direction of your business is a key part of logo design.
The relatability assessment is about how your logo makes people feel. Do they feel naturally drawn to the logo? What values and associations come up when they see your logo?
This is where are all the logo elements come together: color, font, icon, shape and overall design.
When designed with your ideal client in mind (and not just what you like), your logo will strike an unseen chord in your ideal client. It will feel familiar and relatable.
Here is where your vision, mission statement, values and ideal client avatar will help your logo designer come up with a logo that resonates with both your business and your prospective customer. (Find out more about working with a graphic designer.)
I like to use mood words with my design projects to help define the impressions and feelings I want a design to evoke. Do you want your logo to feel fancy or fresh? Traditional or edgy? Elegant or funky?
Knowing everything that you do about your business, your style, your offerings and your ideal client, come up with 5 or 6 mood words from this list and then look at your logo with fresh eyes. Does it conjure up all or most of those moods?
Putting It All Together
You’ve taken an honest look at your logo through the lenses of color, readability and relatability. Now what?
If you love it, hurrah!! Keep going with it.
But if you’re not sure whether to love it or leave it, run it by a small group of trusted advisors, perhaps your mastermind group or a Facebook group of like-minded business owners and entrepreneurs. Ask them specific questions: what product or service do you think this logo relates to? Is it easy to read? Is it appealing to you?
If you’re re-thinking your logo, don’t fret! There’s no need to make any drastic changes yet. Use everything you’ve learned here to come up with a new approach for your logo design. Then find a new designer to help with your new look. Follow graphic designers on Instagram to get a feel for their work, and ask fellow business owners for referrals.
If you’d like to dive deeper on how to use your logo and define your branding style and strategy, get on the interest list for my new online course, BRAND: YOU, Creating an Irresistible Online Presence. Simply enter your details below and you’ll be the first to know when the course is open again!
Do me a favor? If you enjoyed this article, please share it on your favorite social media channels and help spread the word. Thanks!