coworkers at a table creating a logo
Crowdspring founder and CEO Ross Kimbarovsky explains the four key elements behind a successful, effective and timeless business logo. — Getty Images/Weedezign

This article was contributed to CO— by Ross Kimbarovsky, founder and CEO of crowdspring, a company specialized in logo design, web design, graphic design, product design and company naming services.

Your business’s logo is a small, symbolic piece of artwork that represents your business and acts as the visual cornerstone of your company’s brand identity — which includes all of the visible elements of your brand that you, customers, and prospective customers can see.

Especially in business, first impressions matter. You want people to see your company’s logo and instantly think of your brand. If you leave your identity to chance, you lose the ability to shape the conversations surrounding your brand.

To create a strong brand identity, your logo must:

  • Embody your brand.
  • Be instantly recognizable.
  • Be versatile.
  • Be timeless.

Everything else is optional. Every design choice in your logo should exist only to serve and strengthen the four key items listed above.

Your logo must embody your brand

Your logo is a visual shorthand for your business. It must convey the essence of your business quickly and effortlessly in order to be effective.

If your logo doesn’t make consumers think of your brand, it won’t help you create a strong brand identity — putting you at a competitive disadvantage, as a strong brand identity is the most effective way your new business can gain a competitive edge in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

It’s important to remember that your logo has to derive meaning from your brand, not the other way around. The world’s best brands are known because of the people, products and vision that the logos represent, not because of their logos themselves.

Here’s how to make sure your logo embodies your brand:

  • Define your brand. Why does your company exist? What does your company do? What beliefs guide your company’s actions? How are you different from your competitors and what is your unique selling proposition?
  • Make smart aesthetic choices. All aesthetic considerations — including line weight, color, form and fonts — must serve to embody the brand identity. Focus on logo elements that embody your brand and not simply on elements that look good or trendy.
  • Test designs with customers and prospects. Share your favorite designs with your audience and ask them which best reflects and embodies your brand.

Use your unique brand as a compass to guide you to a unique logo design concept.

Ross Kimbarovsky, founder and CEO, crowdspring

Your logo must be instantly recognizable

Your logo should be unique in that it only reminds consumers of your brand. Logos that take their cues from design trends or generic templates rather than the brands they represent not only look similar, but also can expose your business to two major risks:

  • Legal risks, because trademark laws prevent businesses from operating under similar brand identities that are likely to be mistaken for a competitor.
  • Reputation risks, because if a competitor with a similar logo does something unethical and their reputation takes a hit, your business may be impacted as well.

A unique, custom logo design will help you stand out, be more easily recognized and also keep your business protected. Here’s how to make sure your logo is instantly recognizable:

  • Connect the logo to your brand. Use your unique brand as a compass to guide you to a unique logo design concept.
  • Research your competition. Avoid design choices that will invite comparison or confusion between your logo and those of your competitors.
  • Familiarize yourself with generic and overused shapes. Review examples of generic and overused shapes that will make your logo disappear into the crowd — and avoid these concepts at all costs.

Your logo must be versatile

Your logo should appear on every piece of branded material your company produces. From business cards to billboards, your logo also needs to scale effectively to any size.

So, in terms of design, this means that excessive complexity is out. Detailed textures, intricate linework or complex details may be completely lost, rendering the logo unrecognizable, if the following steps are not considered.

Here’s how to make sure your logo is versatile:

  • Test different sizes. Test your design choices in a wide range of sizes before committing to the design.
  • Check your color choices. Designs that rely too heavily on color may suffer. Color gradients or fades may lose their form entirely when rendered at small sizes.
  • Test black-and-white variations. Verify that your logo design works as well in black and white as it does in color, and that no details are lost.

Your logo needs to be visible on any surface, against any color, at any size — which is one of the reasons why line and form are so important to logo design.

If your logo can’t go everywhere your brand needs to appear, then what’s the point?

 ross kimbarovsky headshot
Ross Kimbarovsky, founder and CEO of crowdspring. — crowdspring

Your logo must be timeless

To build a successful business, you want customers and prospects to develop loyalty and trust in your brand. But these things don’t grow overnight. Brand consistency, over the long term, is the key to building trust and loyalty.

And while it’s impossible to design for permanence, you can avoid choices that will instantly date your designs.

Here’s how to make sure your logo is timeless:

  • Avoid embracing design fads and trends. A strong logo design should persist for a long period of time.
  • Make your logo design flexible.Starbucks’ ever-evolving mermaid logo is a good example of how you can evolve a logo but still preserve familiarity.

A strong brand identity can mean the difference between the success and failure of your company.

Create a strong brand identity and you’ll build a more competitive, sustainable business.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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