Here’s something you might not know about your logo or brand identity: the point of designing a logo for your business is not to choose one that you like. The goal is to design a logo that communicates to your audience. Ideally, you can achieve both – but communication is the only goal that really matters.
Sometimes I see a certain type of poorly designed logo, and I think, I bet the business owner really loves that. Take, for example, the independent gym that uses the really cute mascot for their logo. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with cuteness, but it’s probably not going to motivate anyone to jog or whale on their pecs. Using any style just because you’re personally enamored with it might be a costly mistake. Then there’s the jazz musician I encountered who used a baffling nonsensical symbol as his logo. “What does it mean?” I asked. “Oh nothing, I’ve just love it because I’ve been using it forever.” Wrong answer.
The Errol Morris documentary The Unknown Known is about Donald Rumsfeld and the confounding smokescreens he used to justify war. The title refers to Rumsfeld’s definition of the things we think we know but don’t really know. The unknown known of your business may be the impression your brand creates on your audience. If you are confusing how much you like it with how it is perceived, then you are likely unaware of the impression you are creating.
What’s the solution? It can be helpful to ask customers what they think your logo means. Don’t ask them if they like it – they’ll likely flatter you – ask them what it means. You can also do A/B testing or polling.
But most importantly, make sure you work with a branding professional instead of hiring Cousin Steve to design your logo. Doesn’t have to be this branding professional – just someone who will make their first priority the most important one: to design a logo that communicates.
“Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.