Care, investment and lateral thinking can help to convey the essence of a brand, writes Nina Hendy.
Winning the hearts and minds of consumers with a memorable logo can be the difference between success and failure in business.
A snappy logo can make people connect with your brand in the first place and recall your business name down the track.
Sydney's Frost* Design cautions businesses that a logo is not the same thing as a brand.
Founder Vince Frost says you should start by considering what your brand stands for and the emotional benefits it delivers.
When starting out in business, look at competitors' logos in the same category. Being original is vital, Frost says. "Don't copy or imitate," he says. "You will be found out and it will be costly.
"Identities are getting less literal and more about creating an emotional connection. Apple is a great example of a company where their brand opens doors for product expansion because people love what they stand for.
"Thinking big from the beginning will give your brand more potential in the long run."
It's also important to consider whether a logo can be scaled down to the size of an app button, and whether they could be animated, which offers flexibility as a business grows, Frost says.
Apple and Nike's logos are simple but memorable, and both also symbolise what the company stands for, as opposed to what it actually does, he says.
"Otherwise, Apple would have a computer for a logo and Nike a shoe. Thinking more laterally will ultimately deliver a much more valuable mark and one that is unique in its category than trying to literally represent your product or service in the logo.
"This process of defining your brand is often overlooked by smaller organisations, but it's a fundamental part of both business and creative success."
If you need to explain your logo, it has failed, Frost says.
"Your logo should have a strong idea that makes it uniquely your own. After all, it's setting out how you want to be identified in the world, so it should capture your personality and what makes your company special.
"Logos are a short cut to recognition and need elements that help people remember your company and what you stand for."
Luke Nathans from iris worldwide agrees. Good logos provide their audience with a mental short cut to help them understand what a brand and business is about, he says.
Designs that are too complex rarely work. Keep it simple so the logo can be replicated in any size, Nathans says.
"Often they look fantastic on a designer's screen, but when they are reproduced in smaller sizes or on non-traditional surfaces, they can look like a smudge or even a mistake," he says.
"Also, avoid overused visual cliches. They are the sign of lazy thinking by your design team."
Flexibility within the design is also important, Nathans says.
And don't be tempted to leave logo design to the lowest bidder, he says.
"Your logo is going to be around for years and it will be the one consistent part of your brand communication, so it deserves love right from the beginning."
Instead, hunt for a designer who shares your vision, understands why your brand exists and whose work you like. "It doesn't need to cost the world, but it does need to be truly memorable."
Frost has worked with countless companies that have cut corners when starting out due to cost, only to face redesigning their logo once they have more capital.
"The problem here is that they have to re-establish themselves with their customers under a new identity, and sometimes even a new name," he says. "This ends up costing them more than doing it right in the first place."
Tim Kliendienst from Sydney's Alphabet Studio says an over-designed identity with multiple colours is a common mistake made by small-business owners. A two-colour logo is cheaper to reproduce than one with four colours, he says.
Frost's logo design rules
Keep your logo simple and bold.
Look at scalability: does it work at the scale of an app button? Does it work in black and white? Can it be animated?
Does it feel appropriate for the market?
Does it have longevity?
Is it something you would be happy to wear on a T-shirt?