5 Steps Asian Startups Should Follow When Designing a Logo

Developing your company’s first-ever logo? Here are a few tips

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BY Tanya Mariano - 15 Aug 2016

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

A logo is to an organization what a face is to a human being. It communicates who you are, what you stand for, and, together with your company name, is your first point of contact with potential customers.

“All businesses need a sign in the market to signify them and their offers,” says Simon Bell, Executive Director of Strategy for Southeast Asia, Pacific, and Japan at brand consulting and design firm Landor. “Not doing so would be like having a child and deciding not to name them. You just wouldn’t.”

This is particularly important for young companies. “Since they're starting out, they have to make sure their logo and branding already convey the spirit of their company,” says Manila-based art director Paul Ignacio. “Making a great impression goes a long way. A shoddy, clip-art logo would tarnish a non-existent reputation, and a well-crafted one would communicate just how professional, focused, and unique a start-up and the team behind it could be.”

When designing your logo, here are a few things to remember.

1. Be unique

Your logo should set your company apart. Says Ignacio, “A good brand is well-researched to make sure nothing looks like it. Otherwise, it would look like a rip-off, especially if it's from a company in the same industry.”

He cites Smart Communications, a major telco in the Philippines. “While you could argue that their icon looks unique enough,” he says, “their typeface looks almost identical to another company named Smart. To make matters worse, this other company's also a telco based in Southeast Asia.”

2. Cater to your target audience

Your logo should speak the language of your potential customers. Know who they are and craft your logo in a way that would resonate with them. Says Jolene Chen, Brand Director at 99designs, an online graphic design marketplace, “It attracts the right customers to you, which will help you clinch those sales.”

3. Keep it simple and flexible

People shouldn't have to work too hard trying to figure out what your logo is about. Some of the most iconic ones ever created – Nike, Apple, and McDonalds, for instance – have this in common: they're simple, clean, and uncluttered.

Also consider how it would look on different platforms – “anything from the side of a plane to the barrel of a pen,” Ignacio says. Ideally, your logo should be simple and flexible enough that translating it between its many possible placements isn't too cumbersome.

He also advises avoiding gradients if you’re being practical, “since those take more colors and processes to produce, and are not as flexible when it comes to placement, say, embroidered on a shirt.” 

4. Consider cost and time commitment

It’s typical for a start-up to have limited funds and be under pressure to scale rapidly. As such, money and time could be a concern.

Says Chen, “When looking to get your logo created, there are so many options to go with – DIY, design contest, freelancer, your cousin, design contest site, agency, logo makers, etc.” Before committing, Chen recommends asking yourself: “How much money can you afford to invest in your logo? How quickly do you need [it], and how much of your time can you afford to spend on getting it developed?”

Keep in mind, however, that good design takes time.

5. Don’t lose sight of the big picture

Of course, your logo is just one aspect of your brand. Bell says, “Logos have changed over time. They were the be-all and end-all, but no longer. As technology, retail, and service channels have expanded in ability to influence, the system around logos has arguably become more important.”

He takes the case of Uber as an example. “They have a logo, but more important to them is the system around it, [that is], the app, interface, experience, activations, etc. The point here,” he says, “is that a flexible system is critical for a logo to begin to move in the holy grail of being a brand.”