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How a Minimal Logo Can Transform your Brand

Photo by: Brad Neathery

Let’s talk logos for a hot minute.

In 2015, a brand designer was born. Actually, she was born a lot earlier than that, but 2015 was the year that she decided that she would help people by designing “the face of their brands”. AKA their logos.

This designer believed that watercolors and florals and geometrics and different art styles were all needed to make unique logos and brands that would help her clients stand out in their saturated markets.

But what she came to realize after a year or so was just how many versions of the same exact logo she was producing, over and over and over again.

Which made her beg the question: am I actually helping people differentiate themselves from their competitors, or am I simply creating an overused look in these creative fields?

So, that designer (me) is here today to explain why having an incredibly simple, no-frills logo—exactly the opposite of what I used to do—may be just what your business needs.

What does it mean to have a “brand”?

A brand is a marketing tool that helps you differentiate yourself from your competitors. If a brand is effective, an audience can use it to quickly and easily identify that particular business.

A brand is used to create customer loyalty, a sense of trust, and a deeper purpose behind a business’s product or service.

A brand consists of many different components, including your:

  • Voice—what kinds of words do you consistently use when communicating with your audience and potential clients?
  • Passions—what core values do you carry into your brand? Do you promote diversity, empowerment, religion, family values, etc.?
  • Connection—how do you create a deeper bond with your audience? How do you connect with people on a 1:1 level? How do you inspire people?
  • Aesthetic—what colors do you consistently use across your brand (not just in your color palette and logo)? Do you trend towards bright and vibrant colors or autumnal and organic ones? Do you prefer floral patterns or classic stripes?
  • And more

So, how do we fit this all into a logo?

The easy answer is: we don’t. We can’t. We shouldn’t.

So often, we see creatives who want their logos to embody allllllll of these different aspects. They want their logos to tell their brand’s entire story.

But how can we possibly cram all of the feelings, messages, intimate connections, values, passions, colors, patterns and #allthethings into one simple graphic?

Let me repeat it just a little louder for those in the back:

We can’t. And we shouldn’t.

Because if you can, then is your brand’s story really that deep?

Is my logo really the face of my brand?

That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Are you ready for the answer?

No—your logo is NOT the face of your brand.

Should your logo be something that people will recognize? Yes! You’ll have your logo on most of your promotional collateral, and your audience should absolutely be able to spot it in a crowd.

But should you put all of your eggs into the logo basket? Again, no—please don’t!

If you’re thinking, “well how else am I going to differentiate myself?”, let me give you some examples of businesses that have minimal, simple logos and are totally nailing their branding:

  • West Elm
  • Anthropologie
  • Rising Tide
  • Jasmine Star

If you look at each of their websites (and more so, their Instagrams), you’ll notice the logos at the top.

What I hope you’ll notice is how simple their logos are, yet how these companies all have very distinctive voices, messages, and “feels” about them. Their photos and designs tell different stories. And each brand makes a significant impact:

  • West Elm is able to charge over $2,000 for a couch, even though there are alternatives like IKEA where you can buy one for $200.
  • Anthropologie speaks to free spirits, wanderlusters and those who want to be surrounded by the trendiest home decor.
  • The Rising Tide Society has over 70,000 members in their Facebook group and a mission to empower creatives in their entrepreneurial journeys.
  • J* is way more than this, but literally any time I think of L.A., I think of Jasmine.

So how do these brands create such impactful messages?

Why is it exactly that some brands have this insanely magnetic power?

Is it because of their logo? No, sweet friends.

It’s their mission, voice, and connection with their audience.

It’s how they make their people feel.

Now it’s your turn:

I challenge you to strip down your logo. What would happen if your logo were only made up of a Google Font like Playfair, Lora, Oswald or Montserrat?

Look at your brand without your logo. What feelings does it evoke? What messages do you notice? How does stripping your logo down affect your brand’s identity?

Just remember the goal of your brand: to create an impact, make connections, and form deeper relationships. Please don’t make the mistake of using your logo as a branding crutch.

Remember that your brand is your story, your “why” and the way that YOU help to transform people’s lives.

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