When you’re on the cusp of starting a new business, pursuing a passion project, or testing a concept, you may not think much about designing a logo.
And that makes sense considering all the other things you have to figure out, including what to call your new business, how it’ll operate, when you’ll find the time to do it, and so on.
As you inch closer to launching, the need for a logo will likely pop up, especially if you’re designing a website or business cards.
Even still, you might be thinking, can I put it off a little longer? How important is a logo, anyway?
Here’s the thing: putting a visual on what you’re doing brings your idea to life and communicates it in a way that words can’t. And while delivering a fantastic product or service is your top priority, you can think of a logo as a support system, helping you gain visibility, trust, and goodwill.
Need more convincing? Here’s why a logo is important for small businesses, especially early-stage ones!
It gives your company an identity
The famous designer Paul Rand wrote, “a logo doesn’t sell (directly), it identifies.”
Let’s reiterate — the number one purpose a logo serves is to give your business (or organization, group, team, etc.) an identity.
Think about how most people will interact with your company for the first time. Whether it’s through your website, a social media channel, a business card, or a booth at a conference, you want to make a positive first impression — and it’s hard to do this with words alone.
By giving your company a mark that fits into spaces both large and small, you’re strengthening your business name (and overall brand) and providing a visual to your target audience. You’re saying “hi” without being pushy or obnoxious.
That’s not to say your logo has to explicitly identify what you do or sell — for example, if you’re a finance company, you don’t need to include dollar signs or piggy banks in your logo.
But what your logo does need to do is communicate your brand attributes (and personality!) using visual cues like colors, fonts, symbols, shapes, and slogans. And it needs to do it in a way that’s simple, straightforward, and adaptable across mediums.
It makes your brand stickier
How many times have you forgotten the name of something, but can describe how it looks? In a world where people interact with hundreds of brands a day, you have milliseconds to capture someone’s attention and stand out.
A distinctive logo makes your brand (and business) easier to recall because humans are wired to identify images and use them to derive meaning and stories.
According to Optimal Targeting, our brain processes visuals 60,000x faster than text, and people remember 80% of images (versus 20% of text and 10% of sound).
You can see this visual recall in action when you look at the results of this experiment, where 156 people were asked to draw ten iconic logos from memory, including Ikea and Burger King. While the results vary widely, most people do a good job capturing aspects of these logos, especially brand colors.
When you’re designing a logo, think of the person who might see it on a sign, a social media ad, an event poster, or a sticker on a laptop — and then think about how you want them to remember it.
It communicates professionalism and builds trust
When you’re starting a new business, it can be a challenge to get others — be it customers, vendors, or investors — to trust you. That’s why it helps to take the old-school advice of “dressing for the job you want.”
Before a person tries your product or service, they assess appearance. Think about if you visit a mediocre website or get handed a business card that looks dated. It doesn’t instil trust or confidence, does it? You’re probably not going to jump to purchase something or contact someone for more information.
In contrast, a strong brand can inspire someone who doesn’t know anything about your business to start to gain trust and interest in what you deliver. It can also help build loyalty over time, as your business grows and gains fans — you need only think of your favorite coffee shop logo and how seeing it on a someone’s cup in the morning makes you feel.
By designing a great logo and putting it on your website and other customer-facing materials, you can immediately convey that you mean business. And because 70% of companies say it’s cheaper to retain a customer than acquire a new one, the more you can do to build trust, the stronger your business will be.
It makes you (the founder) feel legit
Starting a business or big project is hard. And as mentioned above, it can be a challenge to persuade someone to take a chance on you — especially when you when you’re not always 100% sure you have what it takes.
Because of the sheer number of obstacles to overcome when starting a business, it can be hard to feel confident in what you’re doing. So many unknowns! So many things to learn!
Though it sounds superficial, a logo can help with that. It makes what you’re doing (or trying to do) more tangible and gives you something to build on.
When you send out an email to a supplier, submit a proposal to a client, or start that crowdfunding campaign, your logo will subliminally send the message, “I’ve invested the time and energy into this project. It’s real. It’s happening!”
And it might be a stretch, but if you believe the effects of clothing on cognitive processes, it may even help to get your logo printed on a shirt and wear it whenever you need a confidence boost.
It provides a foundation for your visual brand
After you’ve designed a logo, you can confidently move on to other visual branding decisions because you’ll have chosen some key colors and fonts.
When you buy a logo, you’ll usually get a set of brand guidelines that explain what your logo consists of and how it should be used on different applications. This codified set of guidelines helps you build visual consistency (and brand memorability) as you grow your business and hire others to create assets for you.Even if your logo doesn’t have a typeface that can be applied to headings or body copy, the style of your logo and font (e.g. sans serif, script, futuristic) will give you a basis for making those decisions.
It helps you create online and offline branded assets
The amount of to-do list items to tick off when you’re launching a business is daunting. Typical among them is “finish the website,” “get business cards,” and “start a Facebook page.”
These to-do items can easily get stalled or put on the backburner if you don’t have a logo. But remember: even if you’re launching the most basic of “Coming Soon” pages, a logo will put a professional stamp on what you’re doing and let you move on to other tasks.
In other words, by investing in a logo you love, you’ll be able to check off the essential marketing to-dos, choose the other branded applications that make the most sense for your business — and then create or outsource them accordingly.
It gives you something to put meaning into over time
As famous logo designer Michael Beirut points out, you have to think of logos as “empty vessels…and then you pour meaning into them.”
Even a super attractive logo doesn’t have meaning right away — it’s something that’ll grow stronger and more impactful as you gain the respect of users and customers over time.
To get started, do your research, consider multiple options, and think about the brand attributes you want to be known for (check out our ultimate guide to logo design for more details).
Then start brainstorming the awesome logo you’re going to create!