One of the biggest components of the branding process is developing a logo. I receive many questions about logos and I typically have several questions for the asker. I have a lot of questions because the logo is not about the log itself. The logo is a reflection of the brand and that is one part of a bigger picture.
Here’s what I mean. In our society, we think analytically about things. We think in spreadsheets, checklists and boxes. I’m a big proponent of being organized and having lists and a good spreadsheet or two, but that’s not how a beautiful brand is created.
What happens when we look at individual parts, such as the logo, separately instead of looking at what they communicate together? It can leave to a rather fragmented presence in the online, offline and presentation even if the business is the best-of in their field.
When it comes to putting together a brand or a rebrand for a business, we make a list on a spreadsheet that looks something like this:
- Headshots, pictures of business
- Business cards
- Print flyers
- Landing page
- Postcards for event
- Social media platforms- which ones? What material on them?
- Book cover for upcoming book (with it’s own website, landing page, social media material)
And it goes on and on, right?
Plus, within those different components are more nuanced lists. For example, a basic website will have at least five pages: home, blog, about, contact, services and fee structure, what others say about us, etc. If you are putting together the web site yourself (like I outline here), you’ll know the look you’re going for. Or, you’re hiring a web designer and hoping, hoping, hoping they create the thing you want.
Same for the logo. Most likely, you’re hiring someone to create the logo for you. There is the initial discussion via skype, in person or via email or the platform where you’ve hired them. It’s crucial, as with the web designer, that the graphic artist understand what your business is about and the goal, image and emotions you want conveyed. Otherwise, despite your best efforts, the results may be less than what you have in mind (and it’s a good idea to request at least one change in the logo design when writing the proposal for the job).
I’ve done all of these things before and was fairly frustrated when the results were exactly the opposite of what I wanted. I had hired professionals to take care of things for me, so I didn’t think the problem was entirely with them. I figured I wasn’t explaining what I wanted.
And I was right. I wasn’t explaining it well, mostly because I hadn’t though through what I wanted my readers and potential clients to feel and experience as they looked at my materials, heard my presentations and held on to (or discarded) my business cards.
Today, whenever I start a project and when I work with the clients, the goal is to get the foundation first. Everything else comes later.
What’s the foundation? First off, it’s figuring what your business is about, delving into the experience we want to create for your customers and building a brand using color psychology before starting with the specific tasks: logo, business cards, website design, etc.
I do this using the principles of color psychology. I work with clients to discover what the foundation of their business is and what would wow their ideal customer. We identify the dominant season their business falls into. When that work is done, we begin to work on colors, patterns, font choices and other design choices. We are NOT working on specifics yet, everything is in the conceptual stage where we are building out the Beautiful Branding Blueprint completely unique to their business.
Using this framework, the overall design starts out cohesive, not only creating a beautiful brand, but more importantly creating an experience for your ideal customers that makes them say, “wow! I want that” or “I’ve got to get on that newsletter list” or “that’s what I’ve been looking for. It looks like it’s been made for me.”
Using the color psychology and seasonal method of creating the foundation for your brand, we get a framework for how the individual components should look. It’s not just about colors. Color psychology is the study of people and their emotional response to color and other visual elements as broken down in the components of seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. In a branding sense, we want to create an experience with your colors, elements, fonts and elements that your customers resonate with and are attracted to. For example:
- A spring logo looks (and feels) light, energetic and happy. There may be bouncy icons included and it look like it might move around on the page. You feel your spirits rise when you look at it and it beckons you to come and play a bit.
- The summer logo is elegant and flowing. It’s not loud, but it’s eye catching with its sophistication and elegance. There is a sense of both loveliness, perhaps romanticism, and definitely professionalism about it. It speaks of expert craftsmanship.
- The autumn logo reflects serious caring and a deep passion for its work. Being pretty is not necessarily an objective with this logo. It’s about tradition, substance, a mission that goes beyond the business itself.
- A winter logo is dramatic and bold in its statement, representing authority and position (and not apologizing for it!) It may not be overdone, it uses extreme elements, colors and figures to make a point. There may not be a lot of color, but the color that is there is bold and dramatic. There is nothing muted about a winter logo.
What’s listed above is a glimpse of the characteristics of the seasons in logo. Did certain emotions get invoked in you as you read through them. Maybe you thought, “oh, this is more of what I want my logo to look like” or “I don’t want people to feel any playfulness about my work!”
When you get the foundation done first, completely fleshed out with utter clarity on what the business is about, who I am trying to reach and what I want them to feel and experience, everything else flows from there. Suddenly, it’s a million times easier to talk to web designers, photographers, graphic artists, illustrators, cover designers, etc. about the goals of a specific project and what I want them to look like.
Instead of starting with the elements and tasks (logo, home page, etc), start with the foundation. What is your business about? Who are you trying to connect with? Which season does your business fall into? To learn more about the seasons, you can check out my walk through on the elements of color psychology here and the specifics of the spring season in color psychology here.
In conclusion, the three things you need to do before you design your logo:
- Design your overall brand foundation. What is the personality of your business and how does that show in your style?
- Identify the seasonal archetype of your business & stay within the elements of that season when planning the logo
- Communicate, communicate, communicate with the graphic artists. If you have it, use the Beautiful Brand Blueprint to convey all the details of what your vision is. The more information the graphic artist has, the less guess work they have to do and the happier everyone will be!
If you’d like help with designing your brand or if you want to see if the plans for your logo are resonating with your mission, you can contact me here. Be sure to write down the elements of the brand for the graphic artists so they have the tools to help you execute a logo that reflects your vision.
If you’d like a reference, Fiona Humberstone’s book, “How to Style Your Brand” is the best reference book available today in print. It remains a go-to reference for me.
I hope this is helpful. If you are in the middle of designing a logo (or redesigning), what questions do you have?
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