Sometimes branding is a funny business.
I was reminded of this at a recent networking event when I was approached by a small business owner. The conversation started off casually with introductions and the typical small talk. He then asked me what I do. “I help small businesses build big brands,” I said. “Huh,” he replied, and promptly dug into his pocket to retrieve a business card. “What do you think of that?” he asked, waving his card proudly in my face. Not wanting to dash his hopes and expectations of winning my approval, I asked if he designed it himself. “You got that right,” he responded, beaming with pride. I congratulated him on saving himself the cost of a logo design. But before I let him off too easily, I asked, “When was the last time someone said that they love your logo?” His blank expression told me everything.
When was the last time someone told you that they love, or even like, or recognize your logo? If your logo is not getting attention and love from your customers, what does that say about your brand? The short answer is easy: It’s not good for you, but it can be great for your competition.
I don’t want to imply that your logo is the key to all of your business success. It’s not. A logo is just one piece of the branding puzzle, but it’s a really important piece to get right. It can be the difference between being noticed and remembered or being ignored and never considered.
Branding experts often talk about the need to be consistent with your brand. Unfortunately, this gets misinterpreted by business owners as: “DON’T change or alter your brand in any way whatsoever!!” Yes, consistency is important. Treating your customers consistently, providing consistent quality in your product or service, having a consistent look and feel for your brand wherever it is used. These are all important. However, your logo can and should evolve over time. Or, if it’s not working for your business, it should be changed.
Here’s my rundown of some of the common reasons to consider changing your logo. This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a good place to start. Chances are, if your logo has been exactly the same for the past seven years or longer, then something on this list is going to resonate with you.
Let’s answer the question: “Why the heck would you ever change your logo?”
- Your logo design is seriously outdated. If your logo was designed before the advent of Twitter and Facebook, then, at the very minimum, it’s due for a re-fresh. Times have changed, and logos need to be adapted and refreshed to keep up with those changes, especially online technologies. Remember fax machines? You may still have one in your office, but do you use it very often? We’ve moved on to email, text and Facebook status updates. If your logo was designed to look good on a printed piece of paper and a fax, then it probably looks like crap on Facebook and your website. Get with the times, you’re already behind the curve.
- Your company has changed. When I first started my own business, I was focused on different objectives than I am now. Over time my company has evolved, and my services, messaging and target audiences have changed with it. If I was still using the same name and logo, it wouldn’t fit. Likewise, if you are still using the same logo you started your company with many moons ago, it may be worth talking to people and asking them if your brand matches up with your business. If the answer is “No” or ”I don’t know” or “I’m not sure,” then it’s probably time for a change.
- Your logo is too damn complicated. Most great logos are simple, not complex. They look good at different sizes, are as easy to read on a billboard as they are on a business card. If your logo is overly complex, there may be details that get lost at different sizes. Consider simplifying your look. That’s not to say that your logo can’t be expressive or even fun, but keeping forms and shapes simple and easy to understand can greatly add to your recognition in the marketplace.
- Your logo was never “designed” in the first place. This is for the guy I mentioned at the start of this article. Yes, I’m sure you are very proud of the logo you did by yourself in Microsoft Publisher. However, it’s not working, it’s hard to read, and the colors are awful. Just because your logo is your greatest DIY accomplishment doesn’t mean that it’s functional or attractive. Now that you’ve been in business a while, isn’t it time to get a logo that looks like you know what you are doing? Please call an expert this time. Someone who knows how to design and prepare your logo to truly reflect your business and make it work in the myriad media and uses today’s world demands.
Keep in mind this is just a brief list, there are many reasons why you may want to consider changing your logo, or you may need an entirely new logo for a new business or subsidiary. If you have any further questions, please leave a comment or send me an email, I'll be happy to answer your questions and point you in the right direction.
Bryon McCartney is managing partner and creative director of Brilliant Lens LLC. For more than 25 years, Bryon has worked as a designer specializing in branding, marketing and social media. His career has taken him around the world, working for premium brands like Calvin Klein, Elizabeth Arden, General Motors and Lipton Foods. However, Bryon takes great joy in working with small businesses to help them build big brands.
Be Brilliant! | Brilliant Lens LLC is a branding, marketing and social media agency based in Fort Myers, Florida. Our work and experience have taken us around the globe, working for clients ranging from local entrepreneurs to global, Fortune 100 companies. If you’re on Facebook, be sure to Like our page. Follow us on Twitter @BeBrilliantSWFL and on LinkedIn.