Do you really need a logo for your business?

Do you really need a logo for your business
Written by: Jo Petzer
Category: Design Tips | Logo
We’ve been conditioned that we MUST have a logo to be taken seriously. Whether or not you need a logo for your business depends on a number of factors. Keep reading to find out if your business really needs a logo or if there are other options that will be better for you.

You may have come across the school of thought that promotes the ‘no logo’ or ‘anti-brand’ concept. The movement is not about not needing a logo for your small business, specifically. In a nutshell, it’s concerned more with brand industrialization, anti-globalization, and consumerism vs citizenship, and  less about small business. I’m not going into detail on this philosophy (you can look it up yourself). But I am going to explain when you do and when you don’t need to have a logo for your business – with some other bits of useful info thrown in.

Whether or not you need a logo for your business is a controversial topic. There are valid points for both sides of the argument. Logo designers will tell you that you do need a logo – because they want your work, of course. But DO you? As long-time professional logo designer myself, I should agree with them but I don’t always.


What does a logo do for your business?

It’s merely a recognition symbol. Nothing more. It’s a way for existing and potential buyers to recognize and remember you. If your logo was just your company name in a classic typeface, your business would still be recognized and remembered. That said, it goes slightly deeper than that as there is some emotional impact involved, which we’ll get to later.

We’ve been conditioned that we MUST have a logo to be taken seriously in business. And THIS is the primary reason we should have a logo, not necessarily because we need one to be successful, but because our buying audience EXPECTS us to have one as a measure of credibility. And in design we usually need to give our audience what they expect.


No logo is better than a bad logo

If you are going to make the effort to acquire a logo for your business, make sure you either have the budget to hire a qualified person, or the necessary insight to do it properly yourself.

A badly designed logo can do more damage to your business than no logo at all. If you can’t afford a reputable, properly qualified designer to create your logo for you, then rather just go with your company name in a classic typeface, until you do have the budget.


What about DIYing your logo?

Again, unless you know what you’re doing, don’t wing-it. Most people will judge the competency of your business on what your logo looks like. If it looks like it was made in MS Word and doesn’t carry the ‘hallmark traits’ of a high-quality professional graphic, you will be judged. Harshly.

People tend to think that if you can’t afford to hire a qualified designer that you can’t be making much money so your product or service must be bad. Judgy bastards.

If you aren’t a seasoned designer and are thinking of tackling your own logo design, you are going to be confused because there are so many schools of thought on the right way to do it. Especially when you consider that your logo is not for you so you can’t base it’s aesthetic on your own personal likes and dislikes.

Something I see non-designers (and some ‘designers’) do all the time on social media is ask for feedback on their logo from other non-designers. I’ve seen horrible logos get feedback like ‘amazing’, ‘you did it’, ‘it’s perfect’. I’ve also seen feedback like, ‘it needs more elements’, ‘add more colors’, ‘make it look 3D’, ‘add some texture’. Um. No.

What you need to consider when you’re sharing your DIY logo with other non-designers is that they are possibly in competition with you, recognize that your logo is horrible but don’t want you to succeed so intentionally tell you that it’s wonderful, or advise you to make it worse. Either way, they are definitely not qualified to advise you as they won’t have the necessary detailed knowledge of your business or your target audience required. 

Asking for feedback on your design from people who don’t know much about design or your audience is going to be confusing because you’ll get conflicting responses. At the end of the day, you’re only going to follow the advice you want to anyway. Which defeats the object of asking in the first place, doesn’t it? Are you looking for validation on your design or actual, genuine guidance on improvement?


How do you hire a qualified designer for your logo?

The golden question. Logo designers were already prolific before the pandemic started but since then there has been an explosion of ‘designers’ who are now experts (thank you Canva) selling their work to anyone who will buy it. I’ve said it before: every second person with a laptop (or even just a phone) has morphed into a ‘professional’ graphic designer overnight. Yes, I understand many people have been desperate for money, but the result has been a huge dilution of quality in logo design.

Thousands of new small businesses have sprung up since 2020 and most of them are DIYing their brand graphics. Design has taken such a dive in quality that the general public no longer know what great design looks like. This means that you can actually get away with a nasty logo because your audience think it’s normal.

If you want to do things properly and hire a designer for your logo development, the way to go about it is to do your research. Find a designer who knows what they’re doing. By this, I mean someone who values your brand and how it needs to attract your target client. If a designer isn’t doing research on your target audience then run away.

Find designers who resonate with you at first contact and then stalk them. Follow their social profiles, search for customer comments and feedback on their work, read their website from start to finish, scruitinise their work, ask them questions about projects. Stalk their clients too, learn their process, get to know them as people. THEN make your decision.

If a designer is promising you a logo in a few days, they aren’t doing it properly. They aren’t learning about your audience and your business enough to make you a logo that will do what it’s supposed to do. Hello Fiverr.


What is a logo supposed to do?

Besides being a recognition mark, your logo serves to make some sort of emotional connection with your potential client. You know, they say ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ – something like that. Even the simplest logo can invoke an emotional response in your viewer that attracts or repels them. You want your logo to attract, obviously. But also to fascinate and intrigue your client – in a good way. While at the same time being perfectly simple and easy to remember.

Your logo doesn’t need to contain everything about your business.  And it certainly shouldn’t be an expression of your creative abilities, or a ‘work of art’. It just needs to evoke a simple feeling and point of connection. The specific feeling and connection the your target client needs to experience in order to want to work with you. 

Creating a logo that does this comes with experience, intuition and technical skill. It’s not something that can be learned overnight. When a designer creates a logo like this they have to completely remove themselves from the process and not let their own emotions get in the way of what they’re creating. They need to ‘become’ your target client and be ‘possessed by the spirit’ (for want of a better analogy) of your target client, in the same way an actor will research and ‘take over’ the personality of a character.


What about your brand?

Everyone is fixated on their logo but your brand is more important than the icon that represents it. It takes years to build a brand personality and, along with that, it will evolve over time – just like a person changes according to life’s circumstances.

The whole experience of your business from the way you answer the phone, to your product quality, the language you use in your copy, the tone of your social posts, what YOU look like and how you present yourself, your stock images – all play a greater part in your business success than your logo does. Your logo is incidental to all of that.

Which brings us full circle. You don’t HAVE to have a logo to build a great brand. You may prefer to build your brand first, let its personality bloom for a few years and then have a logo developed. It really depends on what your target audience expect and hold as credible and your available budget.


Help is at hand

If you are wanting to tackle your own logo design, or have been dabbling in designing and selling logos but want to build on what you already know, this article is just one in a series of many that will guide you through the confusion and weed out the essentials of what you need to know to develop a logo and brand that works and that your audience will connect with.

Look out for guidance on researching your target audience, how to come up with a great company name, how to choose fonts and brand colors, developing a winning concept for your logo, and basic logo composition, among others.


End part

If you’re a new designer and want genuine, honest feedback on your work, I have a Facebook group you might want to join. Canva Design Critical isn’t just for Canva users – but they are my focus. Feel free to join (please answer the questions otherwise you’ll be declined) and share your work and I’ll do my best to be nice.

You might also enjoy reading How to be a Graphic Designer – Honest Advice for Beginners.

All content in this article (c) Jo Petzer 2021. Please request permission for sharing or reposting.

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