8 time-wasters when creating a brand

family sharing food cartoon

Before I worked as a writer, I helped my family start a food business. We cooked for 300 people in a cafeteria every single day. It was located at the back office and we catered exclusively to mall employees.

We didn’t think much about the name because we were more concerned about the daily operations and felt that the brand didn’t matter. We just named it Fruit Basket to symbolise the assortment of the dishes we were offering, that’s it.

To look professional, I had uniforms prepared. It had the company name and a tri-coloured apple for a logo which I got for free from a website of logo templates.

One late afternoon, a customer came in looking to buy fruits for dessert. “I’ve had enough of sweets,” he said. Unfortunately, we had none. We never sold any kind of fruits since day one.

Frustrated, he exclaimed, “Why are you named Fruit Basket if you’re not selling a single fruit?” Before I had the chance to retort something funny and smart, he was out of the door.

With the name and the logo we haphazardly chose, we built the expectation in our customers’ minds that we had fruits on our menu. Our customer had a point and from that day on, I made sure we had all kinds of fruits on display.

Overthinking is as bad as underthinking

I am sure you’re afraid of the same scenario that’s why you might be overthinking (or might have overthought) your company name and logo. 

Many agency owners fall into the trap of wasting too much time on the branding instead of focusing on the actual work – growing the company.

Here are 8 branding time-wasters that agency owners, unfortunately, get trapped in. 

Designer measuring a logo

8 Branding time-wasters you must avoid

Forcing a fantastic story behind a logo

People who are curious about your company will ask the history behind its name and logo.

You would want to make the story short, simple and significant. The actual services or products might get lost in a narrative that doesn’t have anything to do with your company.

If the name doesn’t have a poignant story behind it, that’s absolutely fine. You’re not publishing a novel or producing a film anyway.

A story can be as simple as where the company originated. Starbucks has a great back story. Aren’t you wondering who the woman is in the logo?

That lady is an image of a siren, a Norse twin-tailed mermaid. She symbolizes the maritime history of coffee and seaports of Seattle, where the original coffee shop first opened.

No cups, no coffee, no beans on the logo, and yet, you know that the siren represents Starbucks. The brand must follow the story, not the other way around.

Endless consumer research

Companies often spend a huge chunk of time and manpower on the creation of their logo.

This includes the evaluation of the brand, research processes, sketching of logo concepts, approval of the final logo design, and even the creation of the actual logo.

These processes are often done by large companies that have money to spare. You simply don’t have the luxury of money and time (yet) so keep consumer research at a minimum.

Ask a few people if the logo or name can potentially be offensive to a certain culture, religion, or race. If it’s safe, then it’s good to go.

Not getting a professional illustrator or graphic designer

Hiring a professional designer is better than not getting one. With all their experience, they can save you the hassle of designing a logo from scratch.

A little voice inside your head is whispering “I can do all of these on my own”. You can, at first, but it’s gonna pull you in different directions. Before you break, it’s better to ask for help.

If you are a designer yourself, you can create the first few drafts but I recommend having a professional designer complete the logo project. This way, an objective set of eyes and hands can make it official.

Trying hard to create hidden meaning

Another time-waster is trying too hard to create hidden meaning.

Some designers even go as far as making the logo show an image of a fairy playing the flute after you spin the logo 5 times under the shine of the 4th blood moon. I’m obviously exaggerating, but you know what I mean.

Designers can hide a silhouette of icons or letters on the logo if you insist but make sure it is done tastefully. Trying hard to hide meaning dampens the core message of the brand.

Forgetting the name

#RealTalk, your company is no Apple nor Coca-cola (yet). Before you get to a first-name basis with your loyal clients, you’ve gotta establish trust first, which can take months or years.

With this, I recommend including your company name in the logo first. Wendy’s Web Design Services, for example, can sound tacky and in your face but you need it for clients to remember.

Imagine it just being “Wendy’s” and they might order a Baconator instead of web design.

Copying competitors

Copying a brand with an entirely different story, values and service is a total waste of time. Worse, you can be sued for design plagiarism which you can’t afford while your company is trying to establish trust.

Take a peek at your competitors only to know which designs to emulate or avoid. Don’t be a copycat, just stay inspired.

Not letting the logo evolve

Brand owners forget that they can change or revamp their logo. There are tons of reasons to do so, getting off on the wrong foot is one of them. If there is bad feedback about your current logo, now is the time to recreate it.

Big brands, even with their reliable logos, do rebrand every once in a while to keep the logo fresh and interesting.

Are you in one of these rabbit holes? Get help from professional designers or on-demand design services.

Logo best practices from big brands

Target

What better way to illustrate the brand Target than with a target? It’s so simple, it’s undeniably memorable.

target logo

Apple

Apple changed its logo design numerous times now. In 1977, Rob Janoff created a bright logo in the shape of an apple, with the company name shortened to “Apple.”

The new logo was designed for a younger audience and emphasized the computer’s unique ability to recreate colors. A bite was added to avoid a cherry-related mix-up.

With the introduction of the Apple Macintosh in 1984, the tech company figured that its sign had become well-known enough to stand alone as a symbol for the Apple brand. The company name was then removed from the logo.

Apple has stayed true to its great logo since 1984, just experimenting with hues and shadows.

Apple logo evolution

Google

Google regularly includes unique forms of its logo to highlight worldwide events. This is a beautiful way for the brand to connect with a global audience.

Google is able to do it because the logo itself is so basic that it can be a base or background for any additional decor.

Google logo

Nike

One of the most noticeable things we can learn from the Nike logo is communicating characteristics through shape. The swoosh implies movement and speed which are core brand values for a sports brand.

Nike logo

Mercedes Benz

Mercedes’ emblem appears on cars and ads without any letters. Thanks to decades of brand recognition, the brand can effortlessly connect to consumers’ universal knowledge.

The Mercedes-Benz star is a logo that has remained distinctive and meaningful for over a century.

Mercedes Benz Logo

Grow the brand, not the logo

Our family’s food business grew from being a side hustle to 6 branches in half a year. The fruit incident may have contributed to it because it opened an opportunity for us to understand the customer, through our brand.

We chose to listen to what matters instead of defending the company name and logo, which we can rebrand anyway.

The bottom line is to continuously improve the service and products. You can have a million-dollar logo but if customer service is crappy, then all the design efforts wouldn’t matter.

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