Why making your logo the “wrong way” can literally kill your business

Sam and Sue are overjoyed and nearly ready to open their small business. They optimistically put in a chunk of their savings and are nervously waiting to hear back about the loan they applied for at their bank. They picked a business name they both liked, they’re excited about what they’re selling, they have a quality product, and they’re now eager to hire Steve, a recent acquaintance and a “professional logo designer” to make their new logo (he makes pretty logos, so he must be competent, right?). Sam and Sue’s hope is that the business will be successful, so that they may hand the business down to their children. Sadly, two years later Sam and Sue are faced with critical problems.

He makes pretty logos, so he must be competent, right?

A new competitor has entered their industry and is shaking things up, customers are not engaging enough with their marketing efforts, and revenue has been dwindling each month. If this continues, within 6 months Sam and Sue may have to close down. What happened? Although there are many factors that can spark the consuming flames of failure — a shifting economic landscape, competitor price wars, natural disasters, or even owner incompetence — , a major factor of small business failure is, surprisingly, a poor logo (brand identity) process. Yes, the right process, the right steps, from which a logo sees its genesis, are either altogether ignored or altogether unknown (mostly the latter). The typical small business engages in the logo-making process all wrong, meaning that a ‘faux pas’ early on can spell disaster. Allow me to elucidate…

A great many so-called “logo designers” aren’t very competent and are actually killing your business.

According to the US Small Business Administration, approximately 50% of small businesses will go bust within 5 years, and nearly 70% will not make it to age 10. Considering that 99% of all US businesses are small businesses, this is a staggering amount of failed small businesses. Why does this happen? A large part is poor planning. Businesses started without good planning are left to be tossed about to and fro at the mercy of the crashing waves around it. Simply put, the right steps to starting a small business are at times not put into place, one of which includes the proper making of a strong brand identity/logo, and their importance has been eroded by popular misconceptions, speculative heresay, and incompetent imposters. For this reason I feel obliged to reveal to you, in good faith, that a great many so-called “logo designers” aren’t very competent and are actually killing your business. In fact, I will venture to say that the logo process happens to be a part of the initial business planning phase. Allow me to explain why:

The typical small business engages in the logo-making process all wrong, meaning that a ‘faux pas’ early on can spell disaster.

Contrary to popular opinion, the business name and it’s brand identity/logo should be one of the latter things done. Also, a logo is much, much more than some pretty identifier. It is complex visual language. A logo has a specific job to do for your business, just like hiring a salesperson. You don’t hire a salesperson and then interview them afterwards, right? Of course not, that’s backwards! First you need to check for competence and only then should you hire them for their specific job. This same rationale applies to the brand identity/logo process. So ask yourself these common-sense questions:

  1. If i’m hiring a logo designer, doesn’t it make sense to first check if they are competent as a logo designer? (FYI, pretty logo doesn’t = effective logo.)
  2. Do I even understand complex visual language in order for me to determine if a logo designer is competent? (For most the answer is a resounding no, even for those in the C-suite.) So how do I determine who is competent at complex visual language?
  3. And regarding the logo, wouldn’t it make sense for me to first check if the logo can accomplish its job before finalizing one?
  4. Do I even know what the real job of a brand identity/logo is? If the answer is not clear to you, how do you know if it can accomplish its job?

This analysis is part of the logo-making process.

I would say a brand identity/logo’s job is to serve as a visual vehicle for conveying meaning of brand promise, attributes, and differentiation all while acting as a filter for its audiences. Creating a proper brand identity/logo is a complex multi-disciplinary endeavor requiring understanding principles in neuroscience, psychology, social psychology, anthropology, optics, communication science, business strategy, art, and geometry. I believe many have forgotten that the brand identity/logo actually falls under the business side of the equation, and less so on art.

Business > Marketing > Brand > Brand Identity/Logo.

So in answer to the four questions above, you can determine the competency of a logo designer by their ability to understand, not just art, but relevant business and psychological principles and by their ability to reasonably show how their visual solutions can align to and fulfill your business objectives. What I am saying is that there IS a “business formula” that can be followed in order to avoid making a logo the “wrong way”. In fact, many big brands use this “formula” when creating new sub-brands or when they are rebranding. At Skycraft Collaborative we use this formula when working with our clients in order to understand their challenges, uncover insights and opportunities, find solutions, define their brand, and execute great creative solutions (which can include the brand identity/logo).

See a quick sneak peak into our logo process video here:

https://www.behance.net/gallery/38603389/STARK-Rebranding-vid

There IS a “business formula” that can be followed in order to avoid making a logo the “wrong way”.

In humanity’s best interest, I am obliged to reiterate (and this may be uncomfortable for many “graphic designers” to read), most “logo designers” are simply not competent in these necessary areas of business and psychology in order to create a brand identity/logo that can include the necessary psychological cues, accomplish high-level business objectives, and remain aesthetically balanced. My question to you is: Are you going to risk your next logo (and your business reputation) to an incompetent logo designer? There is a better way to make a brand identity/logo— the right way — the way I help my satisfied and successful clients. If you liked this article, please share with a friend. And feel free to reach out to me, let’s talk about your next logo project.

Creating a proper brand identity/logo is a complex multi-disciplinary endeavor requiring understanding principles in neuroscience, psychology, social psychology, anthropology, optics, communication science, business strategy, art, and geometry.

About the author:
Bryan Jimenez is Founder and Brand Specialist at Skycraft Collaborative, a design-thinking branding collaboration based near Los Angeles California. If you liked this article, follow him here on Medium.

Visit his website: http://skycraftcollab.com

Follow him on Twitter: @BryanJimenezSC