Making a Company Logo: Do You Need One or Not?
Updated: May 20, 2022
Your Logo: The Shortest Distance
The golden arches. A double-tailed mermaid on a coffee cup. The silhouette of an apple.
You see them and immediately think of burgers, lattes, and elegantly designed technology. It’s the magic of a logo. The shortest distance between marketing and the customer’s brain.
But is making a company logo really something you need? Or is it just something that you think you need?
I mean it’s fun to get the fridge magnets made and hand out vinyl stickers emblazoned with your symbol, but is that really where your resources need to go?
If you research this subject a lot of the internet is going to shout back YES. You absolutely positively have to have a logo and oh-my-god how are you doing business right now without one?!
But those articles - every single one - are written by a logo designer.
So let’s get a grip, and ask the real question. Before you pour money and time into this, is making a company logo important for your service business? And if so, what are some things you should know ahead of time? Lastly, I want to confront what could be the real reason you want a logo for your business.
You “Need” to Make a Company Logo
So what’s the point of making a cool logo for your service? There are a lot of pros to it, but I think I’m going to simplify it here. Broadly speaking, it’s about Communicating, Distinguishing, and Solidifying.
Making a company logo can communicate a lot. It can communicate your identity, your product, and your whole vibe. If it’s a good logo, it can create a statement about your values, the luxury level of what you offer, and what section of the public you seek to serve. All that in a picture and some interesting font.
Your business logo can distinguish you. Making a good logo for your company can set you apart from a crowd of offers. It won’t make people fall in love with your product or service, but it can differentiate you.
That can be of real value. Let’s say you run some tourism services. You have a company logo that’s a lounge chair attached to a balloon. They might just remember “the one with the balloon.” Again this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get the job, but it’s a quick way to step out of the crowd.
Making a company logo can solidify your community. Countries rally around flags. Tribes often rally around logos. It can create a sense of community, shared history, and give off the vibe as something established, known.
The two red socks on a Boston fan’s T-shirt, the Harley-Davidson symbol on a bikers’ jacket - these things get you nods of knowing from strangers who also identify as part of the group.
For better or worse, I think we all know how powerful this is. A logo cements connection with other tribe members and with your product.
Actually, You Don’t Need to Make a Logo for Your Business
So here’s my take on all this.
It’s all great, but you and I, we run a service. We’re not collecting fanatics or shrink-wrapping a product to be sold at a counter. And the game of service-based business isn’t massively affected by flashes of color and shapes.
Service businesses are more about building a trail of good work. Making a company logo can’t do that.
“Small service businesses are built on the reputation of the company, and they are not as tied to a logo mark…” says Pia SIlver of Forbes, “When you are selling a product on the shelves…[c]ustomers are going to make plenty of assumptions based on what they see in a split second.”
That’s just not so with our line of work.
What really matters is building trust. Offering clear solutions to real pain points. And the reputation you gain from your satisfied clients and their testimonials.
If You’re Going to Make a Logo, Do It Like This
So here’s a thing worth mentioning. I’m kind of conflating the word “logo” with what’s actually called “the graphic mark” or “logo symbol.”
The swoosh on the Nike logo is a logo symbol, but the whole thing - including the written name - is “the logo.”
So while I don't think your service-based business needs to hire a designer to make your equivalent of the swoosh, you can do something very simple to add a bit of polish to your brand.
All you need is a name.
Make a business logo that consists, simply, of your name in a telling font. Meaning something that shows off your business's personality.
Match the color and font to your company’s website so it makes sense when you put it on the page. Choose a look that creates a sense of harmony with the whole site.
Keep the look of your logo super simple - clarity is way more important than fancy. And look at the logo in some different sizes, from tiny to large. Some fonts when you shrink them just look like scribbles.
You might also want to consider conserving space. If you have a long-ish title to your business, stack your words so it doesn’t swallow any surface it’s on.
Remember who your audience is. Just because you like things to look loopy and sumptuous, if your clients are all clinicians - people who value precision over luxury - go with the style that speaks to what they need from you.
But Wait - What’s This Really About?
Before we close this up, I want to address what this fuss over making a business logo could really be about.
See, I know so many would-be entrepreneurs who truly want to start a business. They dream about it. Plan for it.
Then they putter around forever taking classes. They make elaborate business plans. They “have to” purchase just the right desk lamp. And, of course, sometimes… they fuss endlessly about making a logo for their company.
It’s fine if you want to have a logo, but if this is a thing that’s holding you back from starting…then I suggest this isn’t really about the logo.
It’s usually about procrastination. Which is usually about managing difficult emotions - chiefly fear.
I tooootally get this, but you have to stop. None of these things - not even the website - is a good excuse to put off moving forward. So - fine - get a logo, go crazy. But it’s an extra, a thing you can do in your spare time.
A logo is not a necessity. And if you think it must be, then it’s time to get super honest with yourself. It’s time to admit that you’re a little afraid to start. Which is cool and normal.
And once you’ve admitted that, start anyway.
It’s the only way it’s going to get less scary. Fussing with your logo is just about avoiding a feeling. It’s about repairing a flash of mood over doing something that really matters to you long-term.
Don’t get sucked into that. It’ll all be fine. Just get going.
The great graphic designer, Sagi Haviv, once said, “A logo is a period at the end of a sentence, not the sentence itself.”
You can’t put punctuation on a story you haven’t written yet. My advice is to write the story of your business. Put more resources into creating trust, content, and results.
Making a company logo - beyond a nice clean version of your name - is confusing the sizzle for the steak. Say what you have to say through your work. And the trail of satisfied clients will do the rest.
Ready to learn how to write the story of your business? We talk all about it in my free coaching hour, Brave Biz Lab.
Why You Probably Don’t Need A Graphic Mark in Your Logo, Pia Silva, Forbes