As the owner of a logo design firm, I often speak with clients looking to have a custom logo created for their small business. If there ever is an objection, it’s usually about price. Our firm is not expensive with most logos coming in under $300 – the reason for the price objection is that not all business owners understand the power a logo has to make a good first impression with customers. They are looking at it as an unnecessary cost instead of a very important investment.
Your Business is Making a First Impression Every Day
Every customer that sees your business in an advertisement, online, or by driving by makes a snap judgement, in less than a half second. In nearly every case, the first element they see is your logo. Like judging a book by its cover, they are judging you by your logo. No matter how great your product or service (or how bad!), your logo usually makes the first impression. For more on this, see this post on the topic. The goal of this article is to show you why, even for a small local business, spending a couple hundred dollars for a custom logo is a no-brainer.
Eyetracking studies conducted by the Missouri Univ. of Science & Technology show that users to most web sites spend over 6 seconds glancing at the logo first before moving on to other content. What is going on in those 6 seconds? They are wondering if the quality of your logo will reflect the quality of service. They are wondering if you invest in the rest of your business like you did on your logo. In a nutshell, they are determining if you are trustworthy enough for them to continue.
Making a Good First Impression – Design Matters
Making a good first impression is all about design. In fact, researchers at the US Naval Academy found that the look and feel of a website including its logo is the main driver of the user’s first impression of that business. Not the content on the website. Not the price of the products or services. Not the reviews on Yelp or Trip Advisor. While all of those elements do make an impression, the first impression comes from your logo design.
Still Don’t Think First Impressions Matter?
Here’s a real-world situation many of us can relate to. You are with a friend at a bar. He keeps eying a beautiful girl across the room. You think to yourself “He’s dressed nice. He’s a good looking guy. Likeable. He shouldn’t have any trouble talking with her.” But your friend had a few too many drinks. He walks over to her and blurts out “Your name must be Daisy, because I have the incredible urge to plant you right here!” And just like that, his chances are over. None of those other good qualities matter. He blew the first impression. In her eyes, he’s a jerk…forever. If a professional didn’t design your company logo, it could be doing the same thing – turning off potential customers, costing you money every day.[one_whole centered_text=”true”][/one_whole]
A Great Logo Design Cuts You Slack
A study conducted by the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology revealed those that had a positive first impression of a business were more willing to cut them slack when its product or service became difficult to use. This becomes especially important if you are a start-up. Making a good first impression with your logo and website will make it easier to absorb bumps in the road with customers as you get up to speed. Of course the reverse is true. A bad or generic logo design will sour that first impression and have you walking on eggshells, competing on price, and having to overcome more objections from the start.
The impact of a first impression can last for years. A study published in Administrative Science Quarterly showed that NBA players with a low draft position were given more playing time after their 5th year in the league, even when performance did not warrant such. The powerful first impression they made in college and through the draft influenced their coach’s lineup decisions 5 years later!
Yet another study conducted by Bertram Gawronski and published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General showed that even when circumstances change (contradicting the first impression), a person considers the new situation to be an exception and the first impression still carries significant influence. In other words, if you design your business logo yourself and 6 months later decide to have a professional redesign it, those that saw the original will retain that impression in the back of their minds. Of course, that should not discourage you from going pro – every customer seeing the re-designed logo first will carry that positive first impression just as long.
What is a Great Logo?
There is no shortage of great graphic designers out there. But, to make it all work the designer must understand the psychology of marketing. The selection of colors, the graphic symbol, and the font used must all work together to give a logo the edge it needs to subliminally communicate your message. But few do, even in corporate America. Take the two logos below, for example. On the left is the logo of one of the largest telecom companies on the planet, with tens of billions in annual revenue. On the right is the logo of the most well-known express shipping company in the world. Both logos are relatively plain, but there is a remarkable difference in the thought that went into them.[one_whole centered_text=”true”][/one_whole]
Despite both logos essentially consisting of just text, they communicate completely different messages. Verizon’s logo consisting of commonly-seen San-serif text, a poorly contrived red check-mark, and a Z with a cheesy motion gradient work together to tell the customer “We couldn’t come up with anything memorable so we cobbled this together in 4 minutes using MS Paint.” Communication companies have so many great graphic symbols to work with to ingrain a memorable logo into customer’s minds, but Verizon would have none of it.
Fed-Ex’s logo, while just as plain, was carefully constructed so that the negative space between the “E” and “X” formed an arrow – which subliminally hints “express” and “movement”. It communicates a message, however subtle. This is the difference between a smart, marketing-based design and just a design.
Logos That Communicate the Message Win
Below are two recent logos designed by our company. Both use a graphic element that communicates clearly what the companies do. It is these elements that customers remember. W. Brown makes use of a diamond atop the W, while the formal font style communicates luxury and prestige. When you glance at this logo, you have a good idea of what they do and the service you might expect to receive. The Marathon logo makes several subtle references. The sloped text and font style suggest quick, efficient work. The large “M” signifies that no job is too big. And of course the crane graphic makes it clear what they do. These elements were carefully incorporated into the design so that in the half second a customer takes to form an opinion of the brand, it will be a memorable one. When you are a local business, a graphic element is essential because you don’t have the $1.5 billion annual marketing budget of a Verizon to push your message.[one_whole centered_text=”true”][/one_whole]
A University of Southern California study found that “Managers need to consider brand logos as more effective and powerful tools in the management of customer brand relationships than previously thought…That is, brand logos that are easily recognizable, yet which do not convey the brand’s symbolic and functional benefits or do not provide aesthetic gratification, fail to take full advantage of their own potential.” No matter who you decide on to create your logo, be sure you are not just getting a design, but a functional identity that communicates the message you want, and makes a great first impression.