Logos and Other Stuff You Should Not Worry About

Seth Godin wrote a post a couple of days back called “Your Brand is Not Your Logo”, where he called the recent re-branding efforts of a couple of big consumer brands “Cluelessness on the half shell”.  I couldn’t agree with that more.

I wrote a post a while back on product naming and this one is a bit like that one in that I will state right out of the gate that I don’t know a darn thing about Logos.  You’ll notice the lack of logo on this page.  In fact you will notice the lack of anything that looks even remotely like “Branding” on this page.  Why?  Because I will venture to say, that you, dear reader don’t give a hoot.

Over 60% of you (according to Google Analytics) are 1st time visitors.  I bet not a single one of you 60% has ever heard of me before.  Some of you got here though Twitter or came to this page from StumbleUpon or clicked on a link here from the CrankyPM or OnProductManagement.  The one thing you folks do have in common is that you came here for the content.  That’s it.  You’ll read the article in front of you and decide to subscribe, Stumble or bookmark based on that alone.  This blog is a startup and it looks like a startup – a little rough around the edges, clearly no money was spent on design and I haven’t sprung for a logo.

Now let’s compare that to a couple of the top marketing bloggers out there.  How about Seth Godin or Guy Kawasaki (go have a look, I’ll wait for you)?  Hummm.  Doesn’t look like those guys spent much on traditional “Branding” either.  They certainly have had some nice professional photographs of themselves (or at lead their foreheads in Seth’s case) done and maybe a teeny bit of graphic help but other than that, I don’t think a lot of cash was spent on “Branding” those blogs.

So what can startup marketers learn from this?  Don’t worry about things like logos because they just
don’t matter.  They’re a bit like product names.  Yes you need one.
It shouldn’t be stupid or offensive.  It would be great if it was
memorable (i.e. didn’t look like any of your competitor’s logos).
Otherwise, whatever you come up with will probably be fine.  Stay focused on the value your product delivers to customers.  That is what is going to get customers and keep customers.  Spend your time, energy and effort solving your customer’s problems and in a few years when you are flush with cash you can spring a few bucks to alleviate your logo envy.  Until then it just doesn’t matter.  Spend the thousands you could spend on a logo and get your sales folks a handful of well qualified leads.  Better yet, spend it flying your product folks out to talk to customers.  The payback will be higher.

Resources for Super-Cheap Logo Design:
There are loads of sites online where you can make your own logo for free or for cheap.  I have fooled around a bit with LogoMaker.  It gives you a bunch of standard graphical elements that you can use to design your own logo and they you can buy it for just $49.  Now that’s a price tag I can live with.
If you are like myself and too graphically clueless to get one you like that way you can try a service like Logoworks.  For $99 you can get 2 different designers to come up with 4 original designs for you.  If you like one, you pay $200 to make it your own.

15 thoughts on “Logos and Other Stuff You Should Not Worry About”

  1. Thanks April, good advice. It took me a couple months to realize I wanted a ‘distinct look and feel’ for Tyner Blain when I first started the blog. For me, it is also company and personal ‘branding’ and I needed to create business cards as well.
    Like you, I didn’t see much value in investing in a logo – also because of the “I’m a startup” factor. I did, however, want something that return readers (20% by Google Analytics) might remember. I took a boring “do no harm” approach. I don’t think my logo adds value, but I don’t think it detracts either. And I’m the first to admit I don’t know anything about it. I spent a couple hours in photoshop playing with colors (and ideas for blog themes) and layouts and sizes. And that was it.
    Your article is great practical advice – the only way to focus on the “important stuff” is to de-focus on the less important.

  2. Hey Scott,
    Thanks for the comment. I have worked on projects where there were folks in development who spent TONS of time worrying about the logo and it drove me crazy. I think your logo looks great which proves exactly my point. It isn’t something you have to stress about right away and as long as it doesn’t offend people, it’s fine.
    April

  3. I agree, but I think I’ll second your note of caution about paying at least ‘some’ attention to how your site/logo looks.
    Branding is like highschool. Like it or not, you are going to be judged on how you look. Don’t be the ugly kid with greasy hair.
    Case in point, my first visit to this blog told me that April uses great stock images to illustrate her blogs, has a good header introducing the site, has a good name for the blog and so on. It says ‘professionally and creatively competent’. I came back for more.
    So April gets design and usability. Many people don’t get it all. Less than zero. They are probably all related to Toronto Real Estate agents, who manage to amaze me with their terrible marketing sense *cough, Brad Lamb, cough*
    If you’re in that bunch, you’re probably better off paying for help. Perhaps not for the logo, but for that first overall impression.

  4. Hey Trevor,
    OK you got me laughing with the Real Estate comment! The funny thing about Brad Lamb is that he is completely memorable (perhaps not in a good way, but memorable nonetheless).
    Just to be clear, if you are talking about companies, your website needs to be professionally done. I could go on and on about this (and I probably will in an upcoming blog post now that I am thinking about it) but every scrap of data out there says that customers will go to your website first so it needs to be easy to navigate, understandable, not offensive, memorable, all that stuff.
    But when it comes to a particular product, I believe that stressing out about product names and logos and stuff like that is a waste of time.
    But then who knows, if this software thing doesn’t work out for me, there’s always real estate 😉

  5. As a graphic designer I want to argue the importance of branding or logo design. Truth is it’s really ALL about the product and how it is being positioned.

  6. Sigh, ok tech crowd, how about if we take just a moment and step back for a minute and give this whole branding thing another look over. I will be the first to agree that you can waste a great deal of cash on logos and branding and get nothing for it.
    That being said, I think that everyone has missed the point here: a brand is not a logo (wasn’t that April’s first point?) but rather how a company / product makes you feel. Case in point: iPod, iPhone – don’t they just seem to reach out to you? That’s branding at work.
    We humans are visual creatures. We like to look. You don’t have to get 3-D fancy, but you do need to give us a way to distinguish your work/firm/web site from everyone elses. Looks like it’s time to go make friends with an artist…
    – Dr. Jim Anderson
    http://www.TheAccidentalPM.com

  7. I somewhat disagree. Although I don’t find logos to be as important for blogs (I don’t have one one mine either), a business with no logo would have to work much harder to keep my attention if it gets any.
    When referring to a blogger like Seth Godin, it is important to note that he is also a book publisher, has been a speaker for many marketing events and has great knowledge to share. I’m not so sure he would have as many people coming back to his blog without the reputation he built through other channels. For instance, I found him boring and vague after visiting his blog for the first time but because of his reputation, I gave him a second chance that I might not have given to someone else.
    As with interpersonal relations, branding is not everything but it can certainly help compensating for a lack of giggles and intellectual stimulus.

  8. Hey Dr. Jim – thanks for your comment! I couldn’t agree with you more that brand does not equal logo. I am starting to feel like the word “brand” gets thrown around so much lately that nobody has a clue what they mean when they say it anymore.
    Hi Frank – I agree with your point as well and I think you and Jim are saying the same thing. Brands are built around customer experiences and that counts for a lot more than a nice logo (or lack thereof).
    Hi Carl – thanks so much for the comment! I enjoyed the post and I think your process for building a name/logo is great!

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