Saturday, April 15, 2017

Three Questions You Must Answer Before You Design Your Logo

Picture your favorite brands. What are the first images that pop into your mind? Is it their store interior, latest campaign, or a favorite product you’ve purchased from them? More than likely, it’s probably their logo. Even among the brands we associate with on a regular basis, the logo remains the strongest reference point. Many brands have even become synonym with their logos; it’s difficult to imagine Converse without a star or Twitter with a little, blue bird. When developed effectively, logos are one of the most powerful cards in a brand’s deck.

But logos don’t just appear out of thin air, and rarely do they materialize after one sketch. The most celebrated logos are the results of hours of research, ideation, testing, and re-creating. Strong logo design takes time; it took General Mills a year and a half of conceptualizing, implementing, and testing to finally bring a logo to life for one of its cereals. Even if you choose to team up with an outside design service to help you bring your ideas to life, there are still universal questions that you must first answer.

What is My Story?

Logo’s are a visual representation of your brand’s story; their primary purpose is to communicate with audiences what your brand is and what you have to offer. Before you can start associating an image with your brand, you have to first understand your mission and unique value proposition. It’s tempting to get swept up in the year’s buzziest design trends, but chasing trends won’t do anything for your overall branding goals. As you tackle each step of the design process you should always come back to your story and ask yourself how each element is contributing to the larger narrative. For example, you may have read that vintage is one of the year’s biggest design trends and want to incorporate that trend into your label. But if you’re a brand new company touting a cutting edge technology, employing vintage touches does not serve your greater purpose. Even if an element is aesthetically appealing, it does not belong in your logo if it is disconnected from your overall story. A good way to nail down your logo’s story is to try to simplify your brand’s mission statement into one or two sentences; your whittled down mission statement will then serve as your design guidepost. If you need help, Deluxe has good case studies you can go off of.

Where Will My Logo Live?

Designing a logo in 2017 is a very different task than designing a logo was in 1997 or even 2007. We’re living in a mobile-first, digital screen-dominated point in time, and screens have to be considered during the logo design process. Your logo may appear as a mobile app icon, in emails on desktops, or ads on tablet devices and it must consistently translate across all environments. Although many brands have already deployed responsive websites that navigate the ever expanding field of multiple screen sizes, many logo designs are not responsive; an unresponsive logo plopped in the middle of a responsive page can look awkward and turn even the most beautiful and simple of designs into lopsided blemishes. Flexible design is a non-negotiable necessity for logo designing in 2017.

What Emotions Do I Want My Logo to Invoke?

Every element of your logo, including color, shape, and font, plays a role in the overall perception of the design. In fact, individual elements of logos can stir up strong and immediate connotations; the color red does not invoke the same emotional response as lavender, and a circular shape does not communicate the same message as an angular one. Humans universally draw the same conclusions when they see specific shapes and colors. In fact, shapes and colors don’t just send immediate signals about brands, they can also encourage (or discourage) buying decisions; 84.7% of consumers even cite color as the main factor driving their purchases. Therefore, it is imperative that you spend the time learning the emotional associations of colors and shapes before you begin the actual design process. If you have a clear idea of the story you want your logo to tell, you’ll be able to assign the right mix of colors, shapes, forms, and letters to your finished product.

While it’s ok to enhance and tweak a logo throughout your brand’s lifespan, few brands have achieved success from massively overhauling their visual representations. Consumers are hesitant to accept change, and when customers begin to associate a brand with a specific visual cue, it’s often difficult for them to accept a new direction. You logo lives at the foundation of your relationship with consumers, and you simply can’t afford to produce an unrelated, unemotional graphic. Taking the time to determine the story behind your logo, the environments where your logo will live, and the emotional response you hope to draw out of people will put you in a better position to develop a simple, communicative design that connects with your target audience.

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