Vital signs

Use a great logo to leave the biggest impression.

Ever judge a book by its cover? Of course you have.

It’s how we make decisions every day: Should I eat this? Should I read this? Should I buy this?

It’s been proven time and again that visuals and perception drive business. Yet for some reason, small businesses get caught up in the daily grind and still seem to forget this. They cut corners with designs, skimp on graphics, and neglect consistency. This is not only a waste of time and resources; it’s a step backward.

The visuals you choose to represent your business will have a direct impact on your success.

A company’s logo is the cornerstone of it all. It’s your brand’s signature, calling card and promise of quality. When people see it, they know what they’re in for. Think about Apple, Coca-Cola, Disney, McDonald’s or Google. When you see their logos, you know what to expect.

That’s no accident. It’s superior brand development. These companies have the resources to invest significantly in their marketing efforts. Small businesses do not have the luxury of multimillion dollar advertising budgets to establish and reiterate branding, so for the small business, future success begins with a strong logo design.

Designing your company’s logo presents a huge opportunity. Using a logo, your company can say a lot in a fraction of a second to customers old and new. You can stay fresh in the minds of customers as the go-to, best-in-class industry leader.

You need to be brief, have impact, and position yourself apart from the crowd as the clear cut favorite when it comes to gardening services and products. This is no easy task, and you better believe it won’t happen overnight. However, there is a proven course of action. It begins with your core business.

STEP 1: Reflect on your core business identity

It’s difficult to think about building a roof when your building’s foundation isn’t set. The same can be said for many a small business brand. A vast majority of businesses have a big problem with finding their voice or their identity. It’s only when they try to please everyone that they start seeing a bust-at-the-seams scenario. Growth is great (and essential) for a healthy business, but without a clear path, the ship is bound to eventually run into murky waters.

Take some time to hammer out the details of your brand’s story. Every brand has a story to tell and it will help you when your mission is immediately recognized. You will be able to see your true competitors, your biggest obstacles and your greatest strengths.

Once you have a grip on your identity, it’s time to share that story with the world.

STEP 2: Choose your designer/agency

Reaching new audiences and assuring current customers that you are the very best at what you do requires due diligence. You need to recognize their current needs and anticipate their future needs. You also need to look capable of doing so. A well-crafted logo design will blend your identity with a look and feel that emits credibility. To get a truly great logo design, you need to seek out a professional.

It’s important that the professional or team you choose to take on this project has experience in logo design specifically, not just graphic design. This niche concentration under the booming industry of graphic design is in short supply nationwide; not many designers are specialized in this aspect. Take a look at their portfolios. Pick and choose some of your favorites and be sure to ask them how the design process went for those clients.

The logo designer(s) you ultimately choose will have an impact on your business. They should be collaborative, transparent in their procedures, and proactive in their considerations for your brand.

This is certainly a tall order, but the right fit will meet these requirements. Do your homework, compare agencies, and then make your choice.

STEP 3: Commit

The brand building process isn’t a quick design and post. It requires a great deal of thought, a competitive analysis and some important considerations. Some of these considerations include:

  • Where does your brand currently exist (both digital, print and physical)?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What are the needs/desires/expectations/limitations of that audience?
  • Where is your audience located?
  • Who are your biggest competitors?

A well-crafted logo requires a great deal of consideration, as you need to make every dollar in your marketing budget work for you.

So make it a priority to meet your team halfway. The right agency will do its very best to help make this brand building process go smoothly. However, that will take a good amount of accountability and responsibility on your part. When all is said and done, you should be empowered with the proper tools for taking your business to the next level.

STEP 4: Remember not to lose focus

While a new major focus might be marketing, don’t lose track of your core business. Create processes and procedures for when your business takes off. There’s nothing worse than going through the entire brand building process only to be buckled down by a flood of new business leads. Start thinking big and consider enlisting additional personnel or services to help compliment your growth initiative.

Once your new brand is in full swing, you’ll be able to leverage a newfound perception and market power. Don’t waste this new power by diluting your brand or cutting corners with the touchpoints of your marketing mix. If you begin delving into social media, your branding should be there. If you create a new direct mail campaign, your branding should be there.

Ideally, the agency or design team that built your brand will have the abilities to handle all of your marketing needs. However, if you choose a new firm, make sure that its work maintains the true brand identify.


Dan has more than 20 years of experience in small business logo design and marketing strategy and is president and creative director of the New Jersey-based advertising agency Graphic D-Signs, Inc.

To purchase a copy of Dan Antonelli's book “Building a BIG small business brand,” visit

January 2015
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