Doctor, Do I Need a Logo?

A stethoscope against a light blue background

One of the members in my Big Brand System course asked a while back whether or not she needed a logo for her business.

You might think that’s like asking a surgeon if you need surgery for a medical problem. (Of course you do!)

I’m here to tell you that you can get away with not having a logo. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to think about how to present your tagline or your business, though.

And it doesn’t mean you can just type out your business name in Helvetica and call it a day!

Start by picking the right font

Let’s start with Doug, who loves donuts and coffee so much, he’s going to open a little breakfast counter on Main Street that specializes in caffeinated, roasted beverages, and fragrant, fresh donuts.

Doug doesn’t have the budget to hire a designer, but he wants to do something to distinguish his business. He starts by typing out his business name in Helvetica:

creating a brand image includes finding the right typeface

Boring! So he looks at different typefaces to see if he can find one with a little more personality. He comes across Futura, and notices that the “o” in this typefaces looks a lot like a nice, round donut — and the top view of a coffee cup! Perfect.

make your a brand image great with a typeface that fits your business

Tighten it up

But Futura straight out of the box doesn’t really work as a logo. When you enlarge the letters, the spacing between them is enlarged, too, and it’s too spread out.

So Doug tightens up the letter spacing by squinching (technical term ;-)) the letters closer together. Even word processing programs will let you do this: look for character or letter spacing settings.

creating a brand image that works with attention to design details like letter spacing

Give it some zip

Then he decides to punch it up a bit more. He finds a brown color that reminds him of coffee, and a nice, warm orange that looks a little like a donut. He emphasizes the round letter “o” by making it bold, and changing the color.

make your brand stand out with some design emphasis

It looks like Doug has a logo after all! It’s a memorable image he can associate with his business.

How about you? Have you put together a logo by yourself? How did it go? Are you still using it? Let me know in the comments.

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is an online educator, author, keynote speaker, and the founder of BIG Brand System. Read reviews of the tools used to run this site and business. Have you taken the free Focus Finder quiz yet?

22 thoughts on “Doctor, Do I Need a Logo?”

  1. Pamela,

    You are great at explaining the concept of design – I love fonts! Now, if you will excuse me, I have some headers that need to be reviewed after reading this post. : )

    Thank you – Theresa
    PS: Great webinar yesterday! I plan on purchasing your Big Brand System Design as soon as I finish another training program I’m working on. I particularly liked your thoughts on an “accent color”. I re-worked on some call to action buttons as a result and I really liked how they came out. Thank you!

  2. This is very helpful. I’ve created a few simple logos, and also used some online “logo generators.” I’ve found that looking at other logos is good inspiration. Color scheme is another key aspect, which you use to great effect in this example. If I can’t decide on a font, I’ll type it out several times in different fonts to see how it looks. Often the decision comes down to the shape of a specific letter or two.

    • If I can’t decide on a font, I’ll type it out several times in different fonts to see how it looks. Often the decision comes down to the shape of a specific letter or two.

      That’s exactly what I do! It’s a wonderful way to start, because — as you said — sometimes the letter shapes will suggest a solution.

  3. This is exactly how my first ‘logo’ came about years ago, and I still use my rainbow letters, too. I may have to play with ‘squinching’, though!

  4. I consider logo as the primary aspects of branding. I hope that one day my logo the fist would become popular and stand for the guy with an attitude.

    Also if you look at logo’s for nike and addidas they are forever remembered for their simplicity.

    Thanks for the lovely write up. I hope bloggers read this post and understand its importance.

  5. What a simple, and super valuable, piece of advice 🙂 I’ve seen so many small businesses stop at step 1, and not only does it look unappealing, but it just screams unprofessional. I personally think that a logo is a pretty big deal. It’s one of the basic building blocks to your brand, and if it’s not decent, people can’t help but think that’s a reflection of your business and how much you value it in general. Your tip is a fantastic way to get around this if your budget is tight!

    • You’re right, and it’s such a Catch-22 situation when you’re starting out. You need a logo but you can’t afford a professionally designed one. This solution is one way to create something that looks good until you can afford something else. It’s a place to start!

    • Hi Krista! Your comment got caught in my spam filter, and I just rescued it. Sorry for the delay!

      Your site header turned out great: lots of personality there. Necessity can be the driver behind a lot of quality design work. Nice job!

  6. I’d totally agree that most people could do a simple basic logo, but not all of them would see the “o” in Futura as a nice round one like a donut or even further, the “top of a coffee cup”.

    Also, they wouldn’t even think to adjust the tracking to tighten up tracking or kerning.

    That’s a designer’s eye looking at the logo and not someone using Microsoft Word.

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