Is it time for a new logo?

This question gets asked a lot, here is how I'd respond and things to consider before creating a new identity for your startup.

December 16, 2019

Logos are tricky and inherently subjective. Not only that, but with a slew of vendors like Fiverr, Upwork, 99Designs, and friends/family who do design work as a side hustle, it's hard to figure out navigating a new identity for your startup. So, here are the top five things all startups should consider when deciding whether or not it is time for a new logo.

Is your logo descriptive of what your startup does?

Descriptive logos detail what services/products a startup provides. For example, if you owned a computer hardware startup and your logo was a monitor screen, that is a descriptive logo. The issue with descriptive logos is that they focus on what you do rather than why you do it.

Logos should be somewhat representative of the fundamental purpose behind your startup and the emotional resonance of your brand (more on this later). Furthermore, descriptive logos are a terrible solution in the long-term, especially if they are focused on a particular technology. Reason being, we don't know how long any particular products or services will be around.

Does your logo look like all of your competitors?

Everyone loves to chalk up Apple as one of the greatest brands of all time. While the logo is the tip of their branding iceberg, it successfully demonstrates the need to stand out. Here is an example of what I mean:

apple-logo-comparison-to-ibm-dell-and-hp

You see, it would have been easy for Apple to create a blue logotype just like their successful competitors, but they would not have been identifiable at all. They would have been pegged as a copycat. The goal of a logo is to be an easily identified mark that helps people recognize your startup. If your logo looks just like all of your competitors, then your logo isn't doing its job.

Did you receive all of the proper formats of your logo when you first got it?

We're diving into the weeds here, but this is an important part of logo design. The downside to sites like Fiverr, Upwork, and 99Designs is that they do not guide users through the proper ways your logo should be distributed. For example, the logo on your website should be in an SVG (scalable vector graphic) format, not a PNG or JPEG. It's not your job as a startup to know this, but you should be informed by the designer which one to use. They also do not develop variants for specific applications like social media, favicons, or different lockups for different applications. In short, if you find yourself scrambling to make your logo work in different contexts, it is obvious that the logo was not built with those applications in mind.

Is it legible and memorable?

Effective logos are simple. The reason for this is so that they can be easily recognized in a crowded market and distinguished from other marks. Simplicity, in the context of logos, could be distilled into two key components:

Legibility (how easy it is to read)

Memorability (how well you, your team, and your customers remember it).

Your logo is not a place to get fancy with grandiose illustrations or granular details. It needs to be just as clear at .5 inches tall as it would be on a billboard.

A simple test to check for these qualifiers is to try and draw your logo from memory. Ask your team and some of your loyal customers to do the same. Are they completely off? If they are, it's time to change.

Has the brand of your startup changed?

Your logo is not your brand, the brand is the gut feeling someone has toward your startup. This feeling is hard to pinpoint without walking through a formalized brand strategy process, but it is found and felt over time.

While logos are not meant for communicating everything about the company, a good logo will be appropriate for the brand. For example, Metallica's logo would not suite a company like Gerber Baby Food because the emotional qualities are at ends with each other. Gerber wants people to feel happy and cared for, while Metallica wants you to feel the wrath of heavy metal.

The first step is understanding what the feeling you want someone to have toward your startup is. Once you can define that, you can see how your logo matches up. If they are in contention with each other, it's time to change.

How does your startup's logo stack up against these questions?

More you say?

Good Logos Do Not Make More Money

What designers need to understand about logos and how they apply to the business world.

1.9.2020

Business is comprised of two key objectives: saving money and earning money. So, if you are in a B2B industry, it is crucial to understand how your service aids a business within these objectives. As an identity and web designer, I'd like to think that my work has an impact on helping businesses succeed. But, I'm not one to throw around lies about my craft either. Which brings me to the point of this punch: good logos do not make more money. 

Believe me, it was hard writing out those words, as I'm sure I've got a target painted on my back now because of them. Sorry design friends, but it's true. A logo is not a magic bullet that suddenly gives businesses a truckload of new revenue. We're not done there though, as logos are important in business, but not in the way we'd think.

What a good logo does is mitigate loss. Do you hear that? It's not about what is gained, but about what you keep on the table now and for years to come.

Here's an example:

Put yourself in the shoes of a SaaS startup founder. She has set a few goals for herself.

Right now, her goal is to have business cards, a website, social profiles, and an email newsletter set up for her SaaS product.

1 year from today, her goal is to have 1000 paying customers, an expanded product line, trade booths, monthly investor meetings, and a suite of marketing collateral in addition to her previous goals.

5 years from now, she wants to have an office, 20 employees, run daily content marketing campaigns, expand the online tools for her users, and also product merch in addition to her previous goals.

10 years from now, she could potentially exit the company but hopes to leave behind a legacy.

Let's break this down:

Right now, her goal is to have business cards, a website, social profiles, and an email newsletter set up for her SaaS product.

Attaching some numbers to this, let's say she gets 1000 business cards printed for the year, gets 80 visitors to her site per month, has 10 visitors between her three social platforms per day, and has 30 subscribers to her weekly email list. In the first year, that is over 7,000 touchpoints and the logo is on every single one of them. 

Now imagine this: the logo is hideous, poorly designed, and sticks out like a sore thumb on all 7,000 of those impressions. Whether consciously or subconsciously, all 7,000 of those impressions could have been better, if it wasn't for that hideous logo.

I was thinking that'd I'd do the math on every single one of these milestones, but let's just imagine the number of touchpoints increases by 25% each year for those entire 10 years (remember this is impressions, not sales, paying investors, or paying users). At year ten, that's just over 65,000 touchpoints. 65,000 opportunities to make an impression on a potential user. Now imagine 30% of them go away because the design of the logo reminded them of something scammy. Or maybe because it looks like a phallus flying across the sky.

Is it worth the risk of putting all of that revenue at stake because your logo makes people feel gross? Or what about the cost of having to reprint 6,000 brochures because the logo was not delivered in proper formats?

It's not about earning more money, it's about keeping what's on the table. Do not let your logo be the Achilles heel of your business.

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I hate titles

Why design titles are just like toothpaste.

2.14.2019

A LinkedIn connection of mine posted a document yesterday asking what titles his connections give themselves. The post contained 20 different variants of designer titles, here are a few:

  • UX Designer
  • UI Designer
  • Design Researcher
  • Creative Director
  • Design Lead
  • Senior Designer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Digital Designer


Oi vey. That's only half. And he didn't even cover all of the options out there. You might be thinking, isn't the point to distinguish ourselves from people? Yes, it is, but it has to be done in a way that matters to the people that make the purchasing decision. Most business owners don't know the difference between UX and UI, hell most people who ascribe the title to themselves don't even know the difference.

It's like the pointless variants of toothpaste:

  • Anti-cavity (shouldn't all toothpaste be anti-cavity?)
  • Breath freshening (no shit, is the alternative a toothpaste that makes my breath smell bad?)
  • Fighting Gingivitis (isn't that the job of floss?)
  • Daily Repair (what else is it supposed to do?)

The only variant of toothpaste that makes sense to a user is when it speaks to a particular need of theirs. Like sensitive teeth being addressed by Sensodyne, who focused on people with this issue entirely.

Now let's apply the same thinking to some of these design titles:

  • Design Researcher (shouldn't all design be based on research?)
  • Digital Designer (if you use a computer and you're a designer, you are a digital designer)
  • UX Designer (99% of the world doesn't know what you do and the term user experience is applicable to everything)
  • UI Designer (isn't this the same as graphic design except digital?)

Here's the thing: these titles do nothing for the person on the other side of the table, you know that person who pays money for design services.

What's the solution you ask? Try this:
I'm a designer, I craft things with intention. I've got a portfolio of work and case studies to show the problems I solve. Do any of these sound like you? Cool, let's make something happen.

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