The Tough Task of Picking the Right Logo

Nike. Apple. McDonald’s. All you have to do is close your eyes and you can see their logos in your mind. Doesn’t every organization dream of brand recognition like this? But what is it that separates logos that work from logos that don’t?

When you’re designing–or redesigning– your organization’s logo the important thing to remember is that your logo is a tool. It’s primarily a way of connecting with your audience, not your inner art critic. That can be really hard to keep in mind when you’re choosing between the options presented.

There is a place for gut instincts in any decision. Like any other marketing tool, your logo has a bigger job to do than look pretty.

Being presented with logo choices can feel a bit like selecting a name for your child (or pet). It feels like a big responsibility and commitment. And you might like more than one option. So…how do you pick the right one?

Start with a Creative Brief

Making the right choice starts by creating a guide for decision making before you ever fall in love with cool type and a pop of color. We call this guide a “Creative Brief.”

Begin with a discussion about your organizational strategy, goals and the impression you want to create. Consider how you would describe the personality of the organization. Do you want to be seen as formal or friendly, legendary or upstart? Document the audience, competitors, technical requirements of the logo, and how long the image needs to last.

If your current logo is a nightmare shape or doesn’t give you the flexibility you need in design, this is the time to talk about it. The logo shouldn’t be designed in a vacuum. Think about its application.

By defining your goals before starting to design you will focus on solutions that will further your goals rather than merely “freshening up the look.” Even more valuable, review the brief before presenting logos to keep decision-makers focused on focused on selecting an identity that’s right for your organization—and not simply a reflection of personal preferences.

The creative brief and the knowledge behind it keep the whole team connected to who we’re ultimately creating the logo for—your audience. You might even say it’s the difference between developing a visual identity and just designing a logo.

We used this process in a recently completed logo for Greater Hearts Human Services. Warmth and care for their intellectual and developmental disabled residents needed to be expressed in their logo. At the same time, conveying a competent, professional image was of utmost importance to this relatively young organization asking people to trust them with their loved ones.

Replacing the center of a “g” with a heart visually communicates their heart-centered approach. We balanced that with bold, clean type to reinforce the impression of expertise and professionalism.

Making choices black and white

We have a rule of showing first round logos in only black and white. This helps you be more objective when choosing one design over another. Color is charged with emotion. This keeps color preference from swaying your decision. It also reduces the number of choices you need to make at once.

Both of these tactics make it much easier to focus on what your logo says to your audience.

Is a new logo on your wish list?

Are you considering an update to your logo or even a complete rebranding? While they may look graphically the same when done, these are two very different projects. Each have their value. Let’s talk about the problems you are trying to solve before you invest time in the wrong project.

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