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Crafting a Memorable Logo

Our branding expert shares five reasons why your business needs a logo your customers won't forget.

Historically, logos have been more of a luxury than a necessity. Businesses once attracted customers because they were the only game in town, so to speak. But that's no longer the case. Today's highly competitive industries, global markets and visually oriented consumers have catapulted the logo to prominence. Now your logo is one of the most critical components of your brand. So how can something so little make such a big difference to the success of your business?

1. Your branding efforts not only start with your logo but are dictated by it. Your logo appears on all your sales tools, from your business cards and stationary to your website. As a result, your logo design influences the design of all your sales tools--for better or worse. A professional-looking logo can be leveraged to create professional-looking materials. A poorly designed logo can't. In other words, you need a "brandable" logo--one you can make use of when designing other materials to brand your company.

Brandable logos are scalable, memorable and meaningful. If people can't remember what your logo looks like, they won't remember your brand. Think of the logos of some of the popular brands today. Do you think of M-shaped arches, a shell or a swoosh? All are simple concepts, effectively employed by McDonalds, Shell and Nike. How can you tell if a logo's going to be memorable? If you can't look at a logo for fewer than 10 seconds and re-draw it with decent accuracy, it's probably too complex to be easily remembered. (Besides being difficult to remember, most complex logos can't effectively be reduced in size or rendered in black and white, making them useless for such elements as fax cover sheets and other business forms.)

2. Your logo is a quick visual cue that conveys the essence of your brand in an age when image is everything and time is short. Perhaps you've heard the writer's lament that "nobody reads anymore." In today's markets, not only do you face ever-increasing competition, you also face an audience accustomed to visually stimulating media, convenience and instant gratification. Sure, a few people may read your entire ad, more may read some of it--but everyone will SEE it. The overwhelming amount of choices faced by time-crunched consumers forces them to identify shortcuts. Your logo is such a shortcut: it instantly conveys your brand message and emotional appeal.

3. Awareness and familiarity are keys to growing your business, and your logo is instrumental in both areas. Your logo is your brand's most basic graphic element. It ties together all your sales materials--in fact, your logo may be the only visual element your materials have in common. The right logo helps solidify customer loyalty while differentiating you from the competition.

4. Your logo may be the only thing by which a potential customer can judge your business. Think of small newspaper or Yellow Pages ads. Often all that fits in these small spaces is your contact information and your logo. If your logo projects the right image, it may be the sole reason someone decides to try your company. Conversely, if it looks unprofessional or unclear, it alone may be the reason they choose to look somewhere else.

5. Your logo affords a unique opportunity for you to look like a bigger (that is, more established) business than what you are. With the right logo, you can look like a larger company that's been around for awhile even if you have only one employee and just opened your doors last month. People who see it will associate the positive attributes of big companies--like security and financial stability--with your company. And you can still deliver the entrepreneurial qualities--like personal attention and superior customer service--that you're known for.

Building a solid brand identity is pivotal to success in business today. Lay the right foundation with a professional, brandable logo.

John Williams is the founder and president of LogoYes.com, the world's first do-it-yourself logo design website. During John's 25 years in advertising, he's created brand standards for Fortune 100 companies like Mitsubishi and won numerous awards for his design work.

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