Get Your FREE Authentic Logo Discovery Template:
Download the exact files I use. Available in 4 formats: MS Word, Pages, PDF, & .TXT.
The #1 biggest mistake logo designers make is designing for their clients INSTEAD of the target market.
Authentic logos are created specifically for the customer of the client, NOT the client.
Allow me to illustrate this with a little story. My wife’s birthday was coming up and I wanted to blow her mind with a gift as special as she is. My goal was twofold: 1. To make her feel understood and loved. 2. I wanted to see her cry tears of joy.
Humans crave authenticity.
We all have a need to be understood to feel connected to other humans.
The goal was to give my wife an authentic gift for her birthday.
I brainstormed how I could give her something that was completely 100% unique to her. Like a finger print or a strand of DNA, a gift no one else on the planet or in the known universe could receive. I thought about everything I knew about her, what she values and what really matters in her life. Then BAM. I got it.
I called, emailed, texted, skyped, and even carrier pigeoned :)) everyone that is special in her life. I asked them to write 200 words about her.
Over the next 5 months I created a 30 page hard cover bound book of all of these amazing stories. Below is the cover I designed for the book, and one of the spreads:
I finally received the printed book in the mail. I wrapped a bow around it and gave it to her on her birthday. In silence she slowly turned the pages and read each story. She was completely transfixed. Lost in the memories, as the love of all of her friends & family washed over her.
Then I saw it. A single tear welled up in the corner of her right eye. I gave her something no other human on this planet could appreciate. It spoke to her heart. It was real, NOT FAKED. NO BULLSHIT. The reason this gift was so successful: It was AUTHENTIC.
#1 Biggest Mistake Logo Designers Make
This story can teach us a lot about branding.
Everyone wants to be understood. Authenticity presents itself as understanding. Understanding leads to trust. What is it about this that people really respond to? As previously mentioned, humans crave authenticity. It is up to you, the designer, to find and exploit that authenticity.
The #1 biggest mistake Logo designers make: Designing for their clients instead of the target market.
Why do some logo designers absolutely crush it? And then others, well, not so much…
I’ll tell you what the secret is in one word: AUTHENTICITY. Authentic logos (and branding) is a result of WHO you’re designing for.
Over the years I’ve seen both young (and seasoned) designers simply take the direction the client sets forth, without a second thought. This is a passive and irresponsible position to take.
After studying the great work of Paul Rand, I discovered I had to start designing for the end user, (the CUSTOMER of the client), not for me or my portfolio, and certainly not for the client.
Think about it. Good logo design (and by extension, good branding) has NOTHING to do with your client. But it has everything to do with the CUSTOMER of your client. This is something they do not necessarily emphasize in art school or graphic design classes. They say to “Do whatever the client wants”. You need to challenge that assumption if you want to make work that matters.
Authentic Logos are created for the end user.
This in turn resonates with the customer on an emotional level.
Authenticity breaks down barriers, moves people into action, increases ROI, and ultimately improves the bottom line of your client.
1. Your clients customers are responding, 2. Your client is tickled pink, and 3. You swell with pride knowing your authentic vision for the brand was a success. It’s a win/win/win.
Above is a small sampling of some the logos I’ve designed over the years. See more of my portfolio at Vincent Burkhead Studio, Inc. I am a creative chameleon, I become whatever I need to become to produce authentic logos and brands for my clients.
Ok, I get it. But how do you figure out what the CUSTOMER will respond to?
You need to thoroughly research the customer of your client. This information comes out in the Authentic Logo Discovery questionnaire you provide your clients before you start designing.
Who is the specific target audience?
Young, old, traditional, stay-at-home dads, investment bankers… who are they? Find out age, gender, education level, etc.
It’s all about them, and their needs.
You need to know who you intend to reach, so you can speak to them and address their needs. If you’re talking to children you need to speak a different visual language than if you’re talking to orthopedic surgeons. Once you are able to visualize your target market, only then can you begin to extrapolate what direction your visual solutions should take.
Break the pattern!
Resist doing whatever the client wants. This is the core message of creating an authentic brand.
I look my clients right in the eye and tell them:
I don’t care what YOUR favorite color is. This is NOT about you. This is about YOUR CUSTOMER.
Once they understand the context, they trust me to create a brand that speaks to THEIR customers. They trust me that much more.
Feel free to use my Logo Discovery document linked below. This will help you get the demographic information you need from your clients. It will help you make authentic work that matters.
Your Creative Junkie out.
~ and please don’t forget, the #1 rule in presenting logos: ~