This is a guest post by graphic artist and illustrator Melissa Ott.
As a designer, logos are something I have an intimate knowledge of. I love them. I study them. I observe them everywhere I go.
Unfortunately, I find a lot of small businesses either don’t have a logo or, if they do, have a DIY version that they threw together in about 5 minutes using Microsoft Word.
I’m not sure what the fear is among small business owners; maybe the idea of working with a designer to create an awesome logo seems overwhelming, expensive or inconvenient.
While it can be all of those things, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be any of them.
First, let’s clear up some of the lingo. There is a difference between branding and a logo in that one is a tiny bite out of the other.
Branding is a company’s identity as a whole, incorporating its visual aesthetic with its unique corporate personality.
Branding not only dictates a company’s colors, typefaces and the general look and feel of collateral (collateral being a website, flyers, business cards, advertisements, etc), it also dictates how customers perceive the company. Does the business have a sense of humor? Are they strictly professional? Are they more modern or do they do things traditionally? All of these characteristics make up a brand’s identity.
One player in the development of the identity is a logo.
A good logo stands out as the face of a company, the main point of visual reference for the customer and other businesses.
Strong logos leave a lasting impression on anyone who sees it. With that in mind, it’s important for a logo to show off the company’s philosophy as well as what void the company fills within its market.
Some logos use a picture or “pictoral” icon to represent this while other use typography. Others incorporate an icon with a typographic treatment and use one, the other, or both depending on what kind of collateral they’re dealing with. Logos come in all shapes, sizes, colors and styles.
Regardless of what kind of message a company wants their logomark to send, it’s important that they have one that stands out among the competition and is well done.
Small business owners invest so much time and money into getting their business started and many forget about their image. This is a huge problem.
In today’s world, consumers have a lot of options. Constantly bombarded by content in a highly digitized society, we now have access to companies who want our business not only locally, but globally. This sets businesses up for a lot of competition and fewer opportunities to impress potential customers.
Simply having a great product or service just doesn’t cut it anymore.
In order to survive and thrive today, it’s a necessity for businesses to be on top of their game in all areas. While that includes being great at what we do, it also means we need to have great customer service, high rates of customer satisfaction, competitive pricing and a great image.
With all that competition out there, the fact is that customers judge books (businesses) by their covers (identity). An image helps get them in the door, and then it’s up to business owners and their employees to keep them there.
Melissa Ott is a freelance graphic designer and illustrator living and working in Pittsburgh. Prior to launching her own business, Melissa worked as a Graphic Design & Web Communications Specialist at Green Building Alliance.
Follow Melissa on Twitter at @melissaodesign.
[Image: Melissa Ott]