x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

To design a logo, start by drilling down to your core

Believe it or not, logos can affect how a small business prospers.

Logos of companies such as McDonald's use vivid colours to attract customers through the doors. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Logos of companies such as McDonald's use vivid colours to attract customers through the doors. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

In the old days, when a sick baby was born to a Khaleeji family and treatments failed to heal, the family would resort to changing the baby's name as they believed that could alter destiny.

The same thing applies now to small businesses - not so much changing names, but logos, which are the face and the front door of a business. Indeed, in most cases they are the first point of contact for a company's target audience.

Some small business owners tend to overlook the small but vital detail of logo design.

Believe it or not, logos can affect how a small business prospers. Whether a small business owner is opening a restaurant, a laundry service or a fashion store, the company's logo will always be associated with the corporate brand and image.

Create a logo that is attractive, memorable and original, and the customers will come flocking. Unveil a logo that does not appeal to your target audience, or use the wrong colour, and you could be burying your business.

We have all passed by shops every day that we never take any notice of, because they do not have an attractive signboard, or a logo that would ever appeal to us, no matter how many times a day we pass by. It is true our government supports small business through various start-up funds, but as important as capital is to a start-up, it is essential to produce a positive first impression.

This subject takes me back to my university days when I was taking advertisement and design courses, and where I learnt about the fundamentals behind logo designs.

Business owners at the start-up stage should keep the following design tips in mind:

First, think about colour schemes and fonts.

Step back and evaluate your target audience.

Although you might find a certain font or artwork appealing, keep in mind that the logo is intended for your customers, and not for you. If your logo does not directly communicate with your target audience, then it will get lost in the sea of logos out there.

One logo that stands out belongs to the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage. One of my favourites, it shows a group of Emirati men dancing traditionally with sticks. From the first glance, one can tell that this organisation has to do with the UAE's heritage.

Colours are key ingredients to the logo recipe.

Use colours wisely. Humans naturally associate meanings to specific colours. Blue reflects serenity and professionalism, while red is often associated with power and urgency.

That is why many fast food chains such as McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut integrate red into their brand. By doing so, they create the feeling of urgency - for customers to have a quick bite and leave.

Choosing the wrong colour could send the wrong message to your audience. Similarly, using too many colours into your logo could cause your logo or brand image to be confusing, and unattractive for your audience.

Also, keep in mind that your logo is the main component of your brand's identity and will be everywhere: on signboards, bags, business cards, letterheads and advertisements.

It is vital to create a logo that is simple, and easy to reproduce in a variety of formats.

Know how your logo will look if it is to be blown up to a roadside billboard. It might look great on your letterhead, but it could turn off your customers driving down the road.

Thinking of a way for your logo to reflect your business mission and principles might seem overwhelming. But if you are doing that, then you are asking for a lot. Instead, zero in on the core value of your business and reflect that in your logo. Once your customers get to know about your brand, they then will associate your logo with your mission, and the principles you stand for.

Finally, unless you are a graphic designer, it is advisable to leave your logo creation to the professionals. Seek as many design options as you can until you feel you have found "the one".

So there you have it. A logo can make or break small businesses, especially at the start-up stage.

Be involved in the design process, and remember that when it comes to logos, less is more.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati fashion designer and writer based in Abu Dhabi