When you’re a new business owner and you start thinking about your logo and identity, typically you may think to yourself “I would like my logo to be similar X company logo” or you may envy a competitor and wish to emulate their success by having a similar looking logo. Other times you may notice your competition are using a certain symbol, shape, font or colour, so you think to do the same to fit in with the industry. Or when a new logo design trend comes about you may wish to follow it to have the latest and greatest.
But did you know this way of thinking can actually damage your business potential? If you want to become a leader in your market sector, you need to own your own brand identity.
Avoid blending in with the crowd
When your logo looks like someone else…
An Italian designer, Giovanni Tondini recently put a collection of generic and overused logos together which demonstrates exactly what happens when you base your design on something else done before. What may seem like a great logo in isolation simply looks like 100s of others when you look at the grand scheme of things. In the below example the designs use the company’s acronym cut in two colours by an arc (usually Trajan font)… it’s been done hundreds of times.
In this situation, whilst you may think your logo looks good, you will frequently get people thinking “oh, your business looks similar to ‘enter company name here’”. People will assume there is nothing special or different about your business, or worse, they may see you as a cheap rip-off and not even attempt to find out more.
Avoid stereotyping design
Another mistake businesses and designers make is using stereotypes in their designs. For example, if you’re a coffee shop you may consider using a coffee bean, mug or steam in the logo. When selecting the colour you may also choose brown, as that’s what other coffee shops do. Whilst this results in a ‘pretty’ logo, in the grand scheme of things you’re a clone – there’s nothing special or different about your brand – you look like ‘just another coffee shop‘. You’ll notice in the examples below, that even circular logos are used a lot – this is because both Starbucks and Costa Coffee use this style, which make designers wrongly assume that it’s the way to design a logo for a coffee business…
Starbucks, on the other hand, did something different, creating a unique logo that would “capture the seafaring history of coffee and Seattle’s strong seaport roots” instead of directly representing coffee. The logo looks like nothing else and has now become a widely recognised logo and status symbol. Against its competitors, Starbucks is seen as trendy, whilst Costa Coffee (which I see as its closest competitor) looks like everyone else, meaning they are unlikely to be seen as ‘trendy’ without redesigning their brand identity.
In summary, if you want to be seen as the market leader, you need to own your own brand identity and be unique.
Avoid following logo design trends
In the fashion world, it’s great to be following the trends, especially in our style driven world. In the world of logo design, however, this is not the case. Following design trends, means you blend into the crowd.
Every year, Bill Gardner over at Logo Lounge (which I’m a member of) puts a report together highlighting the year’s logo design trends. He does this by collating all the submitted logos from the past year, then putting them together one by one into related groups. Each ‘new’ group, which has not seen before is deemed as a trend. By the time the report comes out, designers around the world are checking out the list, following the trends in an attempt to design modern, trendy logos. The reality, however, is that hundreds of logo designers are creating identities, in the same way, causing them all to look similar. Sadly trends also age… sometimes badly. In a few years time, the below logos will probably look dated.
In summary, avoid logo design trends. It’s good to check out logo trends, just so you don’t mistakenly use one of them.
How to own your own brand identity?
I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “ok Ian, how do I own my brand identity?”
Before any designs are put together, firstly you need to know who you are as a business. A good approach to this is to complete the following sentence:
(your brand) is the only (your product category) that helps (your target audience) to (what your brand is used for) so that (why your target audience uses your brand)
So once complete, for Facebook this would be:
Facebook is the only social network that helps everyone to connect and share with the people they choose so that they can give and get instant attention.
Once you’ve properly established who you are as a business, who your target audience are and who your competition is, a logo can be designed which properly reflects ONLY your business and nobody else. By designing for YOUR business only, you will naturally look like nobody else, helping your customers recognise and relate to your service.
A unique logo design and brand identity gives you the greatest opportunity to become a market leader. Your logo will be recognised as only your business, and positions you to become a much-loved brand which people will want to wear with pride.
Do you need help designing a unique brand identity?
At the start of a logo design project, I put a list of design objectives together so that I can focus on fulfilling goals and justifying my design decisions. Rather than simply design a ‘pretty picture’ I ensure to design a logo that actually achieves business goals – i.e.: targeting the correct audience based on solid research to correctly represent the business and to stand out from its competition.
Designing in this way ensures you own your very own brand identity, giving you the best opportunity to become the market leader in your field.
Want to get started? Contact me – I can’t wait to hear your story.