You’re probably wondering how in the world designing a logo could be like writing an essay. Design. Writing. Graphics. Words. What in the world could these things have in common?

Easy!

They both require detailed planning and careful execution to be successful. Plus, you’ve got to throw some artistic flair into the mix in order to craft an end product that really stands out from the crowd and grabs your audience’s attention.

So, what exactly does a logo or a paper do in order to earn that coveted spot, front and center, on the refrigerator?



It Clearly Communicates Your Message

Teachers have the same mantra when it comes to the essays their students write:

You need to have a clear and well-supported thesis statement.

Everything revolves around the point or argument that is being made. A position needs to be identified, and all the details need to reinforce or back up said position.

What’s that got to do with a logo?

Just as a thesis statement introduces an audience to the subject matter of your essay, a logo introduces people to the substance of your brand. A logo becomes a symbol of and helps define your identity.

Like the introduction to your paper, a logo is persuasive. It tells people what to think of you, how to feel about you. A logo inspires trust; a logo reveals your professionalism; a logo illustrates how and why you’re different from the competition.

Suppose you’re a contractor. You want to project an image of knowledge, reliability and strength. Your logo, then, should be made of elements that reinforce this message. All the details, from the font to the colors used to the imagery or icons presented, should support the impression you want to make.

Different typefaces

The typeface on the left has a sturdy, strong feel to it. The typeface on the right is more delicate, and is not necessarily the right pick for a contractor logo.



It Creatively Communicates Your Message

Who wants to read a boring essay? Remember all the ways your teachers and professors encouraged you to dress up your writing? Metaphor, imagery, simile, synecdoche, onomatopoeia, hyperbole . . . . The list of literary devices goes on and on and on.

The point of using these elements? To give yourself a creative edge, an artistic advantage. In other words: would you rather read about “a really, really pretty girl” or “a raving beauty with sun-kissed locks of spun gold, whose looks rivaled those of any Greek goddess”?

What’s that got to do with a logo?

A logo doesn’t have to be an obvious or literal translation of your company or its products or services.  McDonald’s doesn’t have cheeseburgers and fries in its logo; Toys “R” Us doesn’t have a baby doll, a bicycle and a backyard fort in its logo.  Going back to our contractor example: if, say, you build custom homes, that does not mean your logo must feature a house, a hammer, some nails and a blueprint.

Creative expression is at the heart of a logo. Be willing to explore all the details and nuances of the creative elements of your logo.

Example: Different colors have different meanings and invoke different emotional responses from people.  Your home building firm focuses on energy efficiency and energy savings? Consider using an earth tone color palette with greens, browns, creams; this can cleverly suggest your environmentally conscious initiatives. You don’t have to have a logo that is all green, or is all green AND features a leaf icon, to illustrate the eco-friendly concept.

Toys R Us logo

By using a fun typeface and bright, punchy colors, Toys "R" Us gives off an energetic, kid-friendly vibe...which is perfect for a toy store! The logo succeeds without being too "literal."



It Makes Sense For Any Audience

Suppose you just wrote a paper about Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Anyone should be able to pick up that paper, read it and walk away knowing what your point is.

There should be a general outline/sequence your paper follows. Plus, it should be organized and flow well. The introductory and concluding paragraphs should be clear; each supporting paragraph should have a topic sentence. All of these things make for a paper that’s easy to read AND understand. Even if a better understanding of your argument is gained by reading the play, a stranger who hasn’t read Romeo and Juliet can still get the gist of things (and your opinion about things) just from the essay.

What’s that got to do with a logo?

With an essay, the reader could be a classmate, your professor, a student helper at a writing center or your parent. Even though each person is different, and even though each person is related to you in a different context, each person should still be able to understand your work.

With a logo, someone may see it on a website. Another person may see it in a print ad. The logo could be on a billboard; the logo could be on a business card. No matter where the logo appears, people should know that they are looking at your logo.

So, a logo that “makes sense for any audience” is a logo that is professionally rendered and that is available in web- and print-friendly formats. A logo needs to be reproduced in a variety of ways, and it needs to look consistent wherever it is used. Having and using the appropriate file formats will ensure this consistency.

Starbucks packaging and brochure

The Starbucks logo looks the same whether it's used in package design, on a brochure or on the website.

Screenshot of the Starbucks website



It Looks Like You Care About It

What separates a “stellar” paper from a “good” paper? Presentation, presentation, presentation!

The quality of your work goes a long way toward earning (or losing) major points. I don’t think I ever saw a grading rubric that didn’t place heavy emphasis on the presentation of your essay. Checking for spelling errors, formating the bibliography properly, using a presentation cover or binder, keeping the doggie boogers off the pages…all of these things go a long way toward showing that you care about the final product you’re turning in.

What’s that got to do with a logo?

The quality of your logo can definitely impact an outsider’s perception of your company, products and services. If your logo looks kind of crappy, YOU ultimately end up looking kind of crappy too.

Logos tend to illustrate the concept of “you get what you pay for.”  A free, homemade logo designed in Word looks vastly different from a logo created by a trained designer with premium software (e.g., Adobe Illustrator).

Why make your first impression your last impression? Do you take the DIY approach and risk “losing points” with your potential clients and business partners? Or do you make an investment in something worthy of an A+ ?

Logo made using Microsoft Word

A "logo" made by yours truly using Word.

Black and Decker Logo

Black & Decker made an investment in a professionally designed logo.