How important is a logo to a brand?

For many, a logo is the brand. It is instantly recognisable, it is catchy in the same way a good song is, and it could be easily drawn.

Consumers see the golden arches of McDonalds and they think of fast food. There must be very few people in the world who could not identify the logo of Apple, or of Starbucks. Having a logo is symbolic, but is it the be-all, end-all of having a successful, workable brand?

From identifying those logos, what else do you understand about these brands? Could you say anything more than ‘they like bright colours’ or, ‘there is a woman with lots of hair drinking coffee?’ Many SMEs get stuck on needing to design an impactful logo, but, with the advent of social media, having a strong and effective brand is just as important as a nice picture.

How many of you could immediately draw the logo for British Airways? Or for Singapore Airlines? Yet we know they are trusted and respected brands - they have managed this without having a hugely identifiable logo.

Jo Evans, senior design manager at Spreckley, a PR agency, feels a logo is still important for businesses as it appears on multiple platforms. Therefore, even though social media might be king, your logo will still be visible, and in fact, will probably be the most mobile friendly aspect. There won’t be room for your name or slogan on a Twitter profile, so to maximise different platforms, a logo is important.

"Your logo is the first thing people notice about you and you want it to set the right mood and create the right initial impression and so, personality is everything. Your brand may appear on a few platforms from print to digital, large or small, so changing it if it’s not working is added expense, time and hassle. Style, layout and colours will need to flow throughout your identity so you’ll need to think beyond just a logo and experienced designers can do this for you."

Read: What your business can learn from the heritage brands owning digital

Something that lets many companies down who have decided to invest in new branding or a logo, is doing it on the cheap. Strong design across the whole brand is important, and many business people assume it’s just an added bit tacked on at the end. A strong brand design may cost you more than quickly fiddling around online, but it is worth the extra investment.

Deciding whether you want a logo at all, or just an iconic lettered heading are important. Both Google and Amazon use ‘word logos’ while Apple and Starbucks have emblem ones. One key move by brands is removing words from logos - Starbucks, Ink, and Gap, among others. Yet, it’s important to remember that a logo is just part of a brand. But it’s also one that can make your brand more standout and more memorable, essential if you have close competitors.

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Companies spend an extraordinary amount of time and money trying to create an iconic logo. Back in 2010, British Oil firm BP spent £136million pounds on redesigning their logo - that was for its sunflower design. The secret is to go for a logo that embodies what your company stands for. In 2010, BP caused an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that destroyed an enormous amount of nature and cost £46bn, which is possibly one of the reasons they were looking for a redesign.

Their sunflower image is about as far from an image you’d associate with an oil company, as it’s possible to be. It suggests a commitment to nature and to the environment. BP were left red-faced after the spill, so were keen to remind customers about their pledge to be more caring towards the environment.

With the BP case in point, the importance of a logo must not be overestimated. If you have a restricted budget, lay down your tools, stop scratching your head waiting for that elusive design to reveal itself, and focus on making the brand trustworthy. That, more than anything else, is what people will look for, not a symbol. The logo will come, once your brand has developed a story, and a true following.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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