Branding Your Business: What Your Logo Really Means

June 28, 2016 - 7 minutes read
Branding Your Business - Silver Moon Logo

Two new logos were created as part of the Silver Moon Spelling Rules project with READ Learning. The Moon logo was an outgrowth of the illustrations in the product. The READ logo for the business itself ( is based on color tiles used in reading and phonics instruction to represent sounds, and is familiar to the educators’ market.

Can logo designers contribute to the success or failure of a business? While business experts rarely if ever cite “logo” as a make-or-break factor, key ingredients like market research, branding your business, and focus rank high. A successful brand image will be one that helps the business reach its intended audience.

Brand is Everything

Your brand determines what people think of your business. As a first impression, branding your business is everything: It is what people FEEL when they see/encounter your product or service. When I am working with a logo design client, one of the first questions we address is, “What would you like people to think of when they see your brand?“ (We use a preliminary questionnaire to get us thinking more in-depth about the logo process) A successful brand makes an emotional connection with people. How do we choose our cars, clothing, books, movies, or restaurants? Such decisions involve things like feelings, impulses, nostalgia, comfort level – not purely logic or calculation.

The Sum of Many Things

So, we can agree that branding your business entails quite a bit more than a logo. It’s the total of many things:

  • Customer service
  • Quality
  • Packaging
  • Ranking among your competition
  • How you answer the phone/email
  • Website reviews and word-of-mouth
  • Hard work

…as WELL as what your logo, ads and marketing materials look like.

As suggested in an earlier post, graphic designers will do well to ask questions and become involved with their clients’ overall marketing plan. I’ve found that the tested and true method of asking relevant questions is the best way to close a sale. At least half of the inquiries I get via my website say simply, “How much for a logo?” The ones who respond to my questions about their business, or fill out the questionnaire, are most likely to become customers. The “How much?” people don’t take the time to answer any questions.

Brand is Reputation

Marketing guru Seth Godin reminds us, “Design is essential but design is not brand.” To the rest of the world, your brand is your reputation. Referrals are the best indicator that we’re doing it right. Are your customers recommending you to others? What sort of reviews are you getting online? Are you the one everyone is talking about? Are you the hot new thing, or a trusted, reliable choice? If the reputation is negative, then a new logo alone is not going to help. Nor a website, t-shirts, vehicle wrap, or coupon.

Branding Your Business - Logo USP

Examples of some of our customers’ Unique Selling Propositions (USP). Bridge-It Languages crosses the language barrier, quickly. The Rhythm Studio teaches ALL styles of dance — even hip-hop and line dancing, not just ballroom — and works with all age groups. Gerald Voigt/Hawkeye is especially good at wildlife photography. And Speak Italian Today really delivers on its promise, in time for your trip.

Branding Identity is DIFFERENTIATION

Also called “positioning,” differentiation goes beyond who you are and what you do, to identify what sets you APART. Have you identified your “Unique Selling Proposition” (USP)? While we want a logo that looks professional and credible — and appropriate to the market you are targeting — we also want to get you SEEN, not hide you in the crowd. This is where you tell people what makes you DIFFERENT. This is why a custom logo is an important asset.

Without a unique promise that you are not the same as all the others, your brand is simply out there as a COMMODITY like gas or groceries. As a commodity, you would indeed be competing on price alone. This need for differentiation applies to graphic designers as well. Much of my competition for attention online is from the mass-production, “Logos for a Dollar” scam sites. I try to communicate my USP as a personal, thorough approach, and added value via items like custom, eye-catching artwork, multiple formats, and continued support after the sale (for example, archiving your logo files and and providing them as needed to your printers and vendors, at any time in the future).

A Logo is a First Impression

As the visible representative of your brand, your logo is indeed a first impression, and that impression is going to be emotional and subjective. Like most artwork, a logo is subject to the same scrutiny and opinion as a new movie, song, book or painting. So to return to our original point: What do you want people to FEEL when they see you and your business? This is where we have to begin. A good designer will ask this question — and if you are serious about establishing and growing your business, you will think deeply about your answer.

Careful Planning is the Key to Branding Your Business Successfully

A successful logo design will be one that gets the attention of your target market. They are looking for you, they need you, and you need to make the best possible first impression by branding your business in a well-conceived, thoughtful manner.

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