7 step guide to great logo design

Where’s the focus in your logo?


Here’s a short checklist on how to make yours better.

At An.X we have over two decades of experience in logo design and we’re often tasked with creating brands, or logos, for clients. So it’s a subject matter we spend a lot of time considering. It’s easy to design a logo with little thought and there are a lot of businesses out there offering lower and lower fees to do so. In fact there’s a US-based portal where you can have a logo designed for as little as $5. However, the quality of these designs matches the cost. There’s no easy route to a great logo and you get what you pay for. It’s by some degree more difficult to design a logo that will stand the test of time, help provide distinction for your brand and be the memorable icon you want it to be.

Your logo should be part of the story that your brand tells and so, there’s a whole host of questions that any competent branding agency should be asking you when you brief them to design or refresh the logo. But that’s another blog for another day. In the meantime, here’s a quick list of questions we constantly ask ourselves when working on logo design. This particular list* succinctly encapsulates the process we’ve been using for 20 years:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Make it relevant
  3. Design for ever
  4. Aim for distinction
  5. Make it memorable
  6. Work small
  7. Stay focussed

Many of these are self-explanatory but I’ll expand on a few. Relevancy is important for many reasons not least that there’s little point in designing a humourous logo for a funeral director. Every visual identity must stand the test of time so you and your agency should really avoid incorporating design styles that are trend led. Instead aiming for a design that will still be relevant, possibly with some small tweaks, a decade from now.

Being memorable is somewhat a function of being distinct. Often, a consumer will only have a moment to see your logo, perhaps as they pass by an advert in the street or scan through a Twitter feed. So, the design needs to work in that moment. Its shape may be the only element that the consumer sees. Does it communicate what you do? Focus is part of this question too. It’s better for a logo to do one thing well rather than trying to incorporate lots of ‘distinctive’ features. Finally, your logo needs to work at all sizes. We’re fully into the digital age now and logos are used across a huge range of traditional and digital media, often at very small sizes. Think Twitter or Facebook icon.

Take a look at your own logo(s) and ask these questions. Does it pass the test? If not, why not Contact Us to see how we can help you.

* The list is borrowed from a fantastic book on brand design by David Airey – Logo Design Love. Available here at Amazon

We would love your feedback on our blogs and we’re always open to suggestions for other topics that we may not have covered already. 

7 step guide to a strategic growth plan

Seven steps to a solid strategic growth plan

Statistics show that roughly 50% of new businesses don’t make it past their third year. This is often down to a number of factors, but if you’ve survived past the tricky first year when around 80% fail, then you do need a plan to carry you through the next period. One key way to help your business stay afloat is to plan, specifically plan for growth. Here is a quick summary of the things you need to look at in a strategic growth plan.

1. Establish a value proposition

What makes you different? Ask your customers why they buy from you. You should be able to produce a list of no more than 5 reasons why. AND… be able to weight them. Reason 1 may be 60% of the decision to buy from you. Reason 2 only 10% and so on. Give yourself a score out of 10 for each reason and use that to multiply the percentage weight. So, if reason 1 is 60% why they buy and you score yourself an 8 in this your total for that would be 60 x 8 = 480. Add them all up and you have a total. You can do the same for your competitors to see where you sit amongst them. That, in turn, can give you insight into what you do best and worst and start writing up you value proposition around that. There’s no point telling people your the best at X if X is only 10% of why they buy from you. If you have a large enough and complex business then you’re going to need to think about segmenting your audience. Each segment might the same five reasons to buy but the weighting may be different per segment or they may even have one or two reasons that differ. In general, try not to position yourself on price as once you start talking about being the cheapest or lowest cost there’s only one way you can go and that’s down. There are exceptions to this rule of thumb but it’s better to avoid a price-based position.

2. Identify your ideal customer

Speaking of your customer base, you’re here to solve problems they have. So, identify the common defining characteristics of the ideal customer. Build a profile of who they are. There are loads of tools online to help you write down a customer persona. Again, if you have a diverse audience base you will need to segment it and create a persona for each segment. You may find this article helpful, with thanks to Hubspot

3. Define your key growth indicators.

In order to determine if your business is growing or shrinking you need to measure. But what? Pick the five key things that you can accurately track over time and don’t just think in terms of sales and turnover. There’s market share, customer acquisition or retention, life time value per customer, and more.

4. Identify your revenue streams

What are your current revenue streams? Can you add any more and, if so, are they sustainable in the long run? Before adding new products or services or seeking a new audience, ensure that you’ve done your utmost to penetrate the markets and audiences you currently sell to with the products or services you currently offer. This is the least risky strategy to explore before you move on to other potential revenue streams.

5. Know your competitors

Even if you’re the runaway market leader (unlikely) there will be something you can learn from your competitors. Again, pick the 5 key ones that sell the most similar products or services to the most similar markets. These are your direct competitors. Are they growing? If so, how and why? Is their positioning (their value proposition) different? Are their processes tighter so they can produce at a lower cost? They will certainly have made some choices you chose not to or weren’t aware of. Don’t assume you made the right ones. Ask around – at industry events or grill any suppliers or customers you share.

6. Play to your strengths

If you followed Steps 1 and 5, you should be able to produce a simple grid for yourselves and your competition where you rate yours and their performance out of 10 for each the 5 reasons customers buy and then multiply that rating by the weighting percentage. E.g. Customer service was given a 35% weighting. You score 8 out of 10 and competitor A scores a 6. So, your weighted score would be 8 x 35 = 280 and competitor A would be 210. Conversely, you scored 2 out of 10 on Authority but competitor A scored a 9 BUT this reason was only 5% of the reason customers buy. Your weighted score would be 10 and competitor A would be 45. So, it pays to focus on your strengths first before spending time working on your weaknesses. In the example above, you have the most potential for improvement in the area of establishing Authority but, as it’s such given such a low prominence in the decision making process for your customer it’s a lot of effort for a low reward. You wouldn’t have stayed in business this long if there aren’t at least two of the five reasons that you score well in and are given a high priority by your customers. Focus on improving these to a point where you can’t get any better before trying to change your weaknesses.

7. Invest in people

Your staff are the ones with the most frequent contact with your customers so make sure they’re happy. They need to be inspired and motivated by your company’s value proposition. Cut back on the premises, the furniture, and the other fixed overheads before you consider being frugal with people. The best ones, that you’ve treated well, will even stick with you if you need to cut back on their remuneration package in a tough period.

Once you have all this in place, don’t park it on a shelf and forget about it. Ensure you’re continually reviewing all its parts as businesses and markets change over time. Make sure you’re following the right growth strategy and measuring the impact of any changes you make to your plan.

Take a look at some of our Case Studies for more information about the businesses in Salisbury or Wiltshire or Hampshire that we’ve helped or Contact Us for help with your own planning.

Find out more about the people behind An.X.

How much should a logo cost?

We’re often asked how much does a logo design cost?

Logo’s are a critical aspect of all business’ marketing. As a company’s most prominent graphical representation, a logo anchors a company’s brand and becomes the single most visible manifestation of the company. It’s a big part of what we do here at An.X so, in the course of some general research, we found this article and found it really interesting that some of the worlds best known brands never actually paid a penny for the design of their logos! Pretty amazing really.

The designer that created the famous Nike swoosh for example was paid very little for the work.

It was good to read that Nike did eventually reward Carolyn Davidson, the designer of the most famous swoosh in the world. Back in 1971 she was paid just $35  for this iconic logo. Nike then went onto present her with a  beautiful ring and an undisclosed amount of shares in the company by way of a thank you some years later.

These days there are online services that offer to design a logo for your business at very low cost through a variety of means including outsourcing to far off countries with lower personnel overheads or through crowd sourcing methods. Whilst this may be the only viable option for a start up with little capital, we’d always advise more established companies that you speak directly to a design professional who can not only meet you face to face but, more importantly, actually guide you on what to brief them. Plus, they’ll properly interrogate that brief, asking searching questions about the values of your competition, your own business’ position in the marketplace and the target audience(s) you’re looking at.

Many of these agencies will have cool websites, loads of clients that they have worked with, some interesting portfolios or case studies to review. Some will be near by, some far away and all, of course, will promise that they can get the job done. So, what can you do to help you choose from this long list of design suppliers?

  •  Outline the project – what does it entail, what is its goal and what’s your budget?
  • Gather examples of designs you do and don’t like and give some thought as to why. This is especially important for those you do admire. What is it about them that reflects your business? Ideally you’ll be able to answer this from a customer’s perspective. Whilst your personal opinion is important, the one opinion that really counts is that of you customers.
  • Draw up your short list of agencies to speak to. Ideally a maximum of five. You can find them through Google of course, but personal recommendations from your own inner circle are much more valuable. Take a look at their website. Is it regularly updated? Are all of those clients listed genuine? What about the testimonials? Sadly, it’s all too easy to fool people by putting up logos of clients you never actually worked for or to fake testimonials. Any good agency will be more than willing to provide additional details and the chance to speak to current clients.
  • When you do come to make you decision about who to help you with that logo design do remember that, yes, you can get a logo designed for under £100. But the chances are that it will show and, more critically, its suitability for your business and audience will be more down to luck than professional judgment.

Here at An.X  we are logo design and branding specialists with more than 20 years experience in delivering design and marketing to a variety of different business sectors and we would be more than happy to discuss your requirements. 

We would love your feedback on whether you have tried these out and how they have worked for your business, we’re always open for other suggestions that we may not be utilising ourselves. Please feel free to contact us or read more of about our design services.

Make my logo bigger!

How well does your company logo stand up?

How unique and distinctive is your company logo? There are a two simple tests you do yourself to see how it stands up to scrutiny.

  • One of the best tests you can do as a business is to strip your logo right back to the basics, be it to the graphic symbol or just the typeface itself, then take out all the colour. Would it still be recognisable? Will your current and potential customers know it’s still you? If not, it’s over reliant on the colour itself or the overall combination of elements. It’s inevitable that your logo will need to be printed in black and white or grayscale at some point. It needs to perform as well in that situation as well as it does in others.
  • Most logos are a combination of some kind of symbol and type or name. Simply prints yours and a few of your competitors out. Cut out the symbol from each one and swap them around. Now, do these new combinations look better or worse with another company’s symbol attached to them? If it looks worse then, great you’re probably on track to having a good solid logo. If the new combo adds nothing or improves things then, well, your logo is probably not up to scratch and could benefit from a proper review.

Journalist Chris Gibson wrote an excellent summary on the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Exchange website here:  logos-size-doesn-t-matter. I love this article, as I feel it really reflects on how most businesses these days look at logo design.

Moving past original creation, here at An.X we are asked pretty regularly “should I refresh the logo that I have had for the past X years?”. In most cases we would say YES! At the very least you need to take an objective look at how your logo stands up against any relevant competitors. It’s unlikely that they haven’t at least refreshed their design or created a brand new logo and visual identity in the years they’ve been in business. The world moves on, trends change and so do consumer tastes. We are happy to review our clients’ logos. Most of the time it could be just a small tweak that’s needed rather than a full re-design. Thankfully we have an in-house Chartered Marketer Jon, and Eddie the Creative Director who are more than willing to offer sensible and cost effective advice on what steps you could take.

Head over to our contact page if you would like to talk to us about how we can help your company be remembered and make your business stand out.

We would love your feedback on our blogs and we’re always open for other suggestions for topics that we may not have covered already.