Is the importance of logos in branding often overstated?

by smartamarketing

Brian Monger

The importance of logos in branding is often overstated (and very often overpriced)

Certainlygood  logos have their use and value.  But when it comes to branding, unless you can utilise an established, well recognised logo, it will have little to do with the establishment of your brand.

The design of your logo doesn’t hugely matter to your market.  Would you choose Yahoo as your search engine over Google because of their logo? I don’t think so

Essentially good (effectiv) branding is about positioning and differentiation. It’s about developing a  promise (and delivering on it) and creating an ongoing relationship with your customer. While you need to have a name and probably a logo to differentiate your product as a distinct brand, it’s not that much about a stunning graphic design.

A logo by itself is a mark, a visual symbol, but it is not the essence of modern branding.

The brand promise and tagline are more important to your brand definition and may or may not be included in your logo. Don’t get a logo unless you first define brand promise and craft a tagline. Then include your tagline with your logo to see if it fits.

Having a nice logo is great, but it very rarely increases sales. But don’t spend a fortune on it.  Just ensure it does its basic job

Banks and other big institutions tend to spend up big on new logos – even after having spent years making the old one recognisable and meaningful to their market.

Despite having designed a few logos and being involved in the design of several more, I personally would rarely recommend spending up big on a new logo until you understand what you want it to do.  .

Here are some things to consider if theC Suite  is hypnotised by a Svengali graphic designer into considering a new logo.  Or if the new marketing manager wants to make a big impact statement (for their future job prospects)

  • Does the new logo have any intrinsic meaning behind it?  Many “designs” lack immediate meaning unless they were attached to the name of the business.
  • Do people – in particular your target markets have to have the logo explained to them because it is so abstract?.
  • Is the new logo necessary in building the brand?
  • What is the overall cost of changing signs, stationery websites, packaging, Promotional items?
  • How long will it take to get established in the mind of the public?
  • Could your logo work just as effectively for another(competitive)  brand?  If so it has no intrinsic meaning to your differentiating particular product/brand
  • Logos may become more important as the brand becomes more established, but usually they have little to do with the initial establishment of your brand – except perhaps gaining some attract attention to the new brand, in the right places
  • Is the proposed new design actually meant for creative folk and deep thinkers?  Good (effective) logos don’t need to be creative works of art.  Unless you are in an arty market populated by designers who will appreciate the nuances the design represents  Your logo is much more likely to be better off simply with just your name, using a basic design and  font presentation.
  • The new logo will be the face of your  business.  Is this how you want to look to your target markets?  Your logo is the calling card for your business.
  • A familiar and trusted  logo on a new product can help boost sales of the new item, because customers will associate its quality with the quality of other products with the same logo.


What makes a good logo ?

Yes logos need tohelp the product/brand stand out from the crowd. A good logo should be recognisable at some distance and when in visual competition with other logos so that buyers can recognise your product.  So consider:

  • It needs immediate (understandable) impact.  You can get big impact with high contrast and a high level of weirdness – but does it instantly appeal and go to work for you?
  • It should create or evoke a positive image for your target market (not a circle of designers)
  • It needs to be an honest reflection of the brand’s positioning and promise
  • It must provide differentiation from competitors – unless you are pretending to be the same product as a successful brand, only with a new package
  • Allow for easy recognition and associations
  • It needs to accurately represent the organisation
  • It must be memorable

Also keep in mind:

Logo Orientation and size

Determine how you will use your logo in various media (including signage and stationery (your livery) and then specify its orientation accordingly. Maybe you need something square, round or vertical. Know the shape before you start.

Think about size.  Will it be able to be recognised in a small format – say on a business card?

Colours – Avoid multi-coloured logos. Shoot for a one or two colour logo. They tend to look better and are less expensive reproduce.

Make sure your logo looks good in black and white/tonal format

Do some research and then specify the colours you want in your logo. Choose your colours based on your customer profile  and your brand promise to them.


I hope you find these ideas useful.  Perhaps check out similar articles here, or in the sister blog site

And let me know what you think?