Logo Literacy

Starting or growing a printing business is an exciting, frustrating, rewarding, and arduous experience. In today’s marketplace, establishing a powerful and memorable brand is essential for any company’s success.  While most experts agree what branding is, few give the logo its due respect. In my experience, a logo sets the stage for all of your strategic messaging. Like a bicycle wheel with many spokes, your ‘branding’ spokes need to be connected to one central hub. So think of your logo as the hub for your brand and all other iterations of that logo as your spokes.

Logo Design: Look before you leap

A great logo conveys expertise, establishes a brand promise and creates an expectation for quality. While many business owners wouldn’t give a second thought to buying a $99 logo, there are some major points you should consider. First, make sure your branding is instantly clear in the logo architecture – because you don’t have the luxury of years of brand recognition to get people to associate your name with your product or service. The vast majority of small business brands are built upon two primary elements: the typographic elements and the graphic or iconic element. Together, they form the basic structure for most logo designs. Whenever possible, avoid deploying a brand that requires a lot of explanation. If your small business relies on outdoor media, such as signs or vehicles, a memorable icon is especially important. It should link the viewer to the message quickly and seamlessly.

There are two schools of thought when considering the naming architecture for your brand and determining which part should receive priority. On one side, the name may be the most dominant part of the logo, while what the company does is secondary. This works well for well-established companies that enjoy good name recognition and are already associated with the service or product they provide. The alternate scenario – which is likely more applicable to commercial printers – is to emphasize what your company actually does, then follow with your business name.

Next to the graphical element or icon, the typography used in your logo design is the most critical choice a designer makes in representing your small business brand. Typography communicates so much about your brand – whether it’s whimsical, elegant, dated, common, fresh, or futuristic. It should be in harmony with the graphic or icon in order to optimize the audience’s impression.

When making decisions about how you want your logo designed, think about the big picture. How’s it going to look in the various executions of the brand? Will it thrive in one format, but suffer in another? Are there certain marketing channels you might use in the future, where your logo can be easily incorporated? Take a minute to think about how those future projects will pan out before finalizing your logo design. Some areas to consider include:


  • Business cards and stationery. Your business card is often a prospect’s first impression. Make it count and think differently. Ideas include two-sided and thicker cards, special finishing, unique paper stocks or substrates and so on.
  • Signage. It’s important to have your signage match your brand. Use space as effectively but don’t modify the logo – and never modify your logo’s proportions to fit that space.
  • Web design. Ideally your new brand should be integrated into your website, and should live within the brand architecture the moment you launch your new look. This is really where your brand should shine, and where your brand promise should be communicated with maximum impact.
  • Social media. An announcement of the new brand should definitely be made through your social media channels. Look no further than Disney to understand the value of a memorable logo. After all, “it all started with a mouse.” Nothing better illustrates the importance of the logo than that first Disney mascot – Mickey Mouse himself!

Finally, determine the feelings and emotions you wish to convey when interacting with your audience. This is is the first step to building a successful roadmap for your brand. Once you’re armed with this research, my suggestion is to tackle the logo design first – and build all other branding touchpoints around what your logo, the real ‘hub’ of your branding wheel, communicates.