Why Coca-Cola’s Logo Earns an A and Financial Advisors Get a D+

800px-Coca-Cola_logo.svgLogos hold major importance in brand recognition.

Coca-Cola is the poster child. Their logo is perfectly simple, clear, and timeless. They haven’t changed it since 1885 when it was first designed. There’s no need to.

Most logos in the financial services industry fail this “timeless test”.

The thought has crossed your mind before. The design, message, and overall “feel” of your logo seems off. You worry it doesn’t accurately represent where your business has gone since the logo was first designed. It’s kinda bulky, perhaps uses too many colors, too many words… generally uninspired. It may be time to cut into a simpler, more recognizable logo that will hold up to some of the most classic logos we all know and love.

The goal of designing (or redesigning) your logo should be to achieve recognition and simplicity. A sharp, timeless logo will not only be lovable for years to come, but also earn you the brand recognition you want.

Redesign your logo if…

…You designed it before you knew what you were doing.

Businesses go through a lot of changes. Maybe you’ve recently started to take on younger clients. Maybe you’re trying to tap into a new market of investors. You want to appear trustworthy and knowledgeable in the field, but you also want to look sharp and interesting to these new folks.

The simple question to ask yourself: If I were to see this logo for the first time, who would I think about the business?

Your logo design is meant to be a visual representation of your company. If there is a question about the feel for your company, or what your specialty is, the logo has not been doing its job. If your logo does not represent your business, it is time to redesign the logo altogether so that it appeals to the customer you are trying to get.

Think about what sort of message you would like to be conveying to your customer. What colors represent the values of your business? What is your niche, and how can you represent this in an image? Should your logo look more whimsical or more professional?

If you don’t think that you’re the best judge figuring this out yourself, ask around. Survey your clients, or hold a casual conversation with them after a meeting. Ask your friends and family what they think of the logo. Get an idea of what people like and do not like about it, and then bring these concerns up to your designer.

…The image you use is too busy.

Your logo is loud. While it grabs attention, it may not be positive attention. That, or it just doesn’t seem to be fluid image, and it’s hard to say why. There’s too much going on that it distracts from the message you want to be putting out there. You need a more concise concept for your logo.

The question to ask yourself: What can I do to convey the same message, but in a simpler image?

Images used in logos are usually best when subtle. FedEx has the forward-pointing arrow hidden between the last two letters, with only two colors and a single font. Twitter’s logo uses a single font, and a single-color image. Neither of these companies have very loud logos, but they are ones you will always remember.

Simple, single color pictures like the Apple or the Nike logo are the easiest to remember. The majority of companies use two to three colors, including the black or white background. This comes into play in a very integral way – what if the logo has to be presented only in black or only in white? This is a common issue in print advertisements. You want your logo to look good no matter where it shows up.

Not every business gets a lot of use out of their logo. They may only have their logo on their sign or their front door. However, now that we’ve reached the internet age, we want to be using our logo everywhere we go.

If you never use your logo, there is no way to begin receiving brand recognition.

The question to ask yourself: What compatible files should I have my logo in, and where should I send them?

There are many places to put your logo. On fliers, advertisements, or even mugs for the office. It is up to you to have the ability to send your logo to companies to make these materials so the logo can become synonymous with your business. Be sure to create your logo as a vector file so that it will be universally compatible.

When you sponsor an event, or have any need to send out your logo, make sure you send in a compatible file to whomever is in charge. Send the full file, since this will allow the person in charge to scale it down without risking any of the image.

…It was designed for a banner, not for a webpage.

Your logo may look fantastic across a giant banner. But as an icon on a web page, it’s really difficult to read. To viewers, it appears a messy blur that they’ll never remember.

The simple question to ask yourself: Does my logo scale well?

Logos should be simple. If your company name is long, be prepared to cut your logo down to only the initials, or to 7 or fewer characters. Long text can become too difficult to read when scaled to a certain level. Once you’ve figured out how to simplify the text of your logo, have the image readily available in a vector file for your website.

Remember: A clear, simple logo is timeless.

Common issues with logos come from the designer trying to do too much in such a small amount of space. Does your logo use too many colors, too many fonts, or too many images? How can you tell when it becomes too much?

The question to ask yourself: Can I answer the ‘who’ and ‘what’ without anything extra?

The only purpose your logo is required to fulfill is the ‘who’ and the ‘what’. Who is your company directed towards? What does your company do? The rest can be answered elsewhere.

The most outstanding logos use simple colors, simple fonts, and simple images. The purpose of your logo is to give a visual representation and compliment the message of your business, and that is it. The simplest logos are the most timeless.

When re-designing your logo, be sure to have a second pair of eyes nearby. You wouldn’t want to end up on a list of the worst logos of all time.

Brave Souls: Share a link to your logo in the comments for improvement ideas!

Corinne is an emerging expert on social media-based communication, with a BA in Public Relations, Advertising, and Applied Communication. Content Manager at Blueleaf, Corinne enjoys organizing content in the cleanest and most elegant way possible. Outside of Blueleaf offices, she can be found performing in comedy, on the elliptical at the gym, or trying to conquer the latest video game. Connect with her on Twitter @CorinneDeCost.