By Scott Gerber
If your new logo design causes even a fraction of the confusion that Uber’s recent rollout did, you might want to take a step back and consider alternative options. Even better, weigh all future possibilities before you start designing. Rushing such a critical element of your branding is rarely the right move.
Designing and choosing a logo, however, is stressful for even the most seasoned business owners. With that in mind, I asked 11 members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) what advice they would give to a new startup (or one undergoing a rebranding) before they begin the designing phase. Their best answers are below.
1. Get your team on board
Your logo is representative of your company. And while logos are subject to change, one thing that needs to remain constant is your team’s support of your logo. It’s important that your logo makes sense and is memorable, but it’s also crucial that everyone in your company backs the decision to go with a particular design over another. Do some research on your target industry. Get as much feedback as possible from people you don’t work with. Make it easy to recreate by hand. Above all, make sure your team is 100 percent onboard with your logo and will go to bat for it whenever questions arise.
– Hank Ostholthoff, Mabbly
3. Don’t stress over it
Remember when Airbnb changed their logo and the Internet freaked out? Well, all Airbnb did in 2015 is come in around $900 million in revenue (and a $24 billion valuation). It didn’t have any real negative impact on their business. Like Airbnb, Uber has a name brand that drives the awareness for the service. The perceived value and ease of the service, which is what put them on the map in the first place, are what will continue to fuel their growth. Because in the end, it’s the value that you deliver to the user or customer that will determine the success of your business.
– Wesley Mathews, High Level Marketing
5. Keep it simple until you scale
Design your first logo knowing that it’s going to change. Once you’ve found product-market fit and are ready to scale, you must build a brand, which is much more than a logo. The logo is designed to reflect the meaning behind the brand. It’s worth investing time and resources in at this point to get it right.
– Jake Stutzman, Elevate
7. Crowdsource your logo
There are a number of logo crowdsourcing sites where you can not only get several dozen or even hundreds of idea submissions, but also you can easily share the prospective logo with your own social network for feedback. We designed our latest logo at 99designs and are very happy with the result. We were able to choose from literally one hundred solid logo ideas and then fine tune that into a final copy and award the winner — all for under $300. It was a great deal.
– Charles Moscoe, eFin
9. Ask yourself whether anyone would get it as a tattoo
People freak out when companies they love change their branding because they have a psychological imprint of the brand deep within their brains. All startups should be creating something their customers love, so keep it clean and simple. Could a tattoo artist draw it? Would your customers be proud to wear it? If so, then your mobile app, website favicon, company T-shirts and letterhead will be something people will be proud to display, and your brand will become something that can spread by itself.
– Matt Wilson, Under30Experiences
11. Evolve but don’t dramatically redesign it
The purpose of a brand is to own the one feeling that motivates your prospects to act. If the brand doesn’t create action, it’s not doing its job. A logo is not a brand. It just represents the brand.
Your logo has one purpose: to trigger your customers’ memory and feeling about your brand. That’s why logos should evolve incrementally with your brand image but never be radically redesigned. Pepsi is a good example of a company that evolved a logo while maintaining brand connection. Unfortunately, Uber’s new logo fails the brand feeling test.
– Chris Goward, WiderFunnel
2. Don’t abstract or oversimplify on principle
In an effort to differentiate, we often see new app icons and company logos that are so abstract or oversimplified that they no longer have any relevance to the brand, product or service they’re intending to represent, despite (like with Uber’s new logo) being highly relevant to stakeholders. Don’t allow investment in your company’s “ideologies” to distort your visual messaging. Uber’s logo has become so unintelligible to the end-user that it requires an explanation to communicate its message —
a message that is more nebulous than it should be. Sadly, this can be a common mistake that both old and new companies make with their branding.
– Blair Thomas, First American Merchant
4. Consider global perception
One mistake I constantly see in logo design is that the logo is too local or not flexible in its ability to have different colors to reflect different markets. Uber specifically mentioned that the logo will have various colors in different countries because they know, for example, that the color red in China may work better than the color used in the U.S. market. If the main symbol is universally recognized, that is all that matters.
– Derek Capo, eFin
6. Ask yourself whether a 5-year-old will remember it
Most 5-year-olds in America can recognize more than a dozen brands by their logo. It’s not just because those logos are ubiquitous: it’s because they’re clear, simple and easy to remember. Pick something that’s as simple as possible (no more than two colors), easy to remember and works in a super small format (think app icon) or super large format (think billboard). Before finalizing anything, show your logo to 10 strangers for five seconds. Then, ask them to close their eyes and draw it from memory. If they can’t draw something that’s close, you need something simpler. (Bonus points if you have access to 5-year-olds for this exercise.)
– Brittany Hodak, ZinePak
8. Keep it simple, clean and professional
The key to building a logo that looks great and makes sense is to keep it simple, clean and professional. Keeping it simple means removing anything from the logo that the majority of people wouldn’t understand. Don’t try to be overly creative if that means causing confusion. Instead, focus on your brand message and deliver it as straightforward as possible through your logo. A clean logo has no blemishes, is of the highest resolution possible and has a smooth blend of color and shape. A professional logo is something that looks like it was done by a top designer — not an intern or someone with minimal experience or a lack of budget. Don’t skimp on your logo.
– Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com
10. Figure out how you’re going to use your logo
Some companies can substantially increase their bottom line by selling merchandise that uses their logo. The Nike swoosh has become one of the most globally recognized pieces of branding in the world. For others, a simple corporate design is perfect. Consider what you want your logo to say about you and your business. Keep your audience in mind and choose colors relevant to your buyers. Print materials are more expensive in full color, so if your marketing plan includes a lot of trade shows or direct mailings, you may want to opt for only one color in your logo. For online usage, the key is sizing your logo correctly for various formats. Have your logo created in a horizontal and vertical design.
– Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now