In every class I teach and almost every client I work with, the subject of a logo comes up in discussion. Often the logo seems to be what passes for marketing by some business owners. And every time this topic is discussed I can’t help but think how fast marketing has changed in so short a time.
Still Relevant But Not Central
While logos are still relevant, their importance is so diminished in today’s marketing that sometimes I even forget that a business may need one.
Logos were important when marketing was a print-based activity. A logo had to do the work of conveying the personality, quality, service, and reliability of the business in a simple graphic place in an ad, on a business card, on the letterhead, on the brochure, and any other printed materials. The logo WAS the personality of the business – that and the tagline were the way to understand what differentiated that business from another similar one.
Financially, the logo needed to be developed before the printing was done because everything was printed and to change all the pieces would be a huge extra cost – so the logo needed to be finalized and put on all the print material then very large quantities would be printed. Lots of pressure to get it right the first time.
The New Focus of Marketing
Now, that has all changed.
Content carries all that information and messaging. Reviews let us know about the service and reliability. Likes and shares tell us about the quality. That leaves the logo to do very little work, except be a shorthand reminder of all the rest – more a signpost that has to be consistent everywhere than a communicator of great value.
This has drastically changed the role of the graphic artist from having a central role in the declaration and communication of a business to a utilitarian tool more like the internationally recognized signs used during the Olympics that show which sports are where.
The real heavy work of communicating the core differentiation of a business is in content strategy and personality now. And how that personality is defined and developed across all content big and small on all social media platforms.
Frequently, the upshot is that I recommend holding off on a logo for a new business until you know what your customers love about you. In the meantime, use a text logo made from you business name, or a photo of you or your shop. Or, at the very least, a simple logo that costs no more than a few hundred dollars. Yes, that’s possible, desirable, and highly recommended.
A logo can easily be added to digital content: website, pdfs, articles, and social media. The cost of printing has frequently come down to just the cost of business cards at about $50 for 1000 or more – not a big investment.
How a Logo Helps
A logo can serve another important purpose though: as a statement by the founder that the business is real. This is not a small contribution to helping the business owner/founder start to manifest their dream. However, that doesn’t often justify a mult-thousand dollar cost of a logo when that money could be better put to use in creating an asset that will produce a larger return – such as a really effective and engaging social media presence or a business-generating content strategy.
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