What Is a Logo? Just the Beating Heart of Your Brand, That's All.

The fundamental logo is probably one of the most over-looked pieces of any business.

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I know we see literally hundreds of them all throughout the day, but what exactly is a logo? I’m betting most wouldn’t be able to answer this question, at least not in a simple manner. A logo is a fundamental part of any brand and any marketing plan, yet it is probably one of the most over-looked pieces of any business.

Let’s face it: we tend to take brand logos for granted.

So what exactly is a logo and what does it do?

At first glance, a logo helps us recognize a brand name and reminds of us of its existence, helping keep it top of mind. Without a logo, the product would certainly disappear. You can’t really be a brand without a logo. Imagine trying to find Tide on the laundry detergent shelf if there wasn’t a big orange Tide logo on all the packaging?

Related: The 7 Stages Of Branding

From a marketing perspective, though, logos do a lot more than just aid in recognition. Logos represent all that is important about the brand, and signals all of the promises it makes to its customers.

When we see the Coca-Cola logo, we think of all the emotions that Coca-Cola brings to us. We think happiness, Americana and maybe summer family picnics. This is likely true across cultures and in fact the sign of a truly effective logo is when it’s recognizable in any language.

Logos also help to differentiate a brand within a category in that each brand tends to have its distinctive color, type treatment, and graphic design. No two logos can ever be alike, particularly within the same industry.

Can you imagine Tylenol not being red? Or UPS not being brown? Or Apple not having an apple?

Related: The Secret Ingredients to a Successful Branding Strategy

Logos also give us a short cut right to the emotional benefit of the brand. Logos spark an emotion in our minds of what that brand is all about. It’s hard not to get inspired when you see a Nike logo, for example, especially if you are remotely athletic and a brand fan.

In many cases, the brand name doesn’t even have to be a part of the logo in order to communicate the emotion.

The problem is that we tend to take brand logos for granted. We get so used to them that we don’t even consciously notice them anymore. While they offer instant awareness and an immediate communication of an emotional benefit, they do tend to disappear from our view without us really knowing it.

Or do they?

While the conscious doesn’t read them, the sub-conscious certainly does by drawing up memories of what the brand is all about. Which is why the logo is so important, and such a vibrant part of any brand.

As a small business owner and entrepreneur, you should think long and hard about your logo. Every element should be a conscious decision about how you want to communicate your brand and the emotional benefit you offer. Choose your color(s) wisely and make sure it’s unique in your industry. Choose a special type treatment and any graphic design that conveys the energy of your brand, and what your customers receive from it.

Related: It's Not You, It's Your Story: Why Branding Matters

Designing your logo is likely one of the hardest things about your job, especially if you want it to work hard for you.

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