Do we need one? Companies wrestle with this logo question all the time. Marketing of all kinds is a rather imprecise business, but few issues are harder to get one’s arms around than whether a company should bother with creating and marketing a logo.

Perhaps the best way to answer the question (Do we need a logo?) is to ask another question: Why do we need logo? Here are some reasonable answers.

1. Because we do a lot of offline marketing

Logos (and images in general) are noticed and remembered more than company names and text in general. If you are, for instance, an HVAC firm with service vans, direct mail and billboards, a logo ties together your marketing and may get people interested in learning more about your business.

The same reasoning applies to companies that give promotional items such as pens, baseball caps and refrigerator magnets. Logos not only unify the overall marketing effort, they give the promotional items a “cool” factor that make people want to actually use, wear or display them.

For companies strictly or heavily marketing online, a logo could still be a plus, but there are plenty of other opportunities to use visual marketing elements to capture attention.

2. Because our business name doesn’t explain what we do

Businesses named for an individual(s), consisting of an acronym or employing some other non-descriptive wording need clarification, so prospects have at least some idea what the company does. A tag line can accomplish this task, but a logo could be more powerful.

3. Because we’re a new business

Many people perceive logos as an attribute of a stable, professional company. If you are new in the market, a logo helps overcome the skepticism that naturally goes with being new.

The Downsides and Hidden Costs of a Logo

Having a good reason to invest in a logo is important. Adding a logo “just because” can turn into a headache. For instance, consider these issues.

  • If your logo is an eyesore rather than a sparkling example of creativity, your logo will convey amateurism and turn prospects away. If your logo is unoriginal, you will similarly diminish the stature of your brand — and possibly wind up facing a legal challenge based on copyright infringement.
  • Speaking of copyrights, registering your trademark logo is a sound business decision, as it enables you to defend your brand against unscrupulous competitors or inadvertent/non-malicious copying of your logo. Applying for a copyright takes time and involves a cost of at least a few hundred dollars.
  • Because having an appealing logo is crucial, hiring a professional logo designer is advisable. Professional design costs anything from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the scope of the project, its complexity, and the skill and track record of the designer. The expense is a great investment — if you have a good reason for wanting a logo.
  • Great care must be taken to hire the right designer. Companies that focus on the price of the logo design soon discover they’re never going to stop paying for it. For instance, at Straight North, we’ve talked to prospects with logos that are too intricate to render properly in digital display or on promotional items; use colors that are virtually impossible to match for web and print display; and logos that are too wide, too tall, too big and/or too small. These issues become nagging burdens and distractions for everyone involved in the production of marketing materials, both within your organization and out.
  • Logos add cost to your marketing. Adding a logo necessitates redesigning the layout of letterhead, proposal forms, business cards and other sales collateral. You will also have to redesign your website page templates, email signatures and other digital marketing assets. You may have to change color schemes of marketing materials to blend with the new logo, and spend a great deal of time trying to match colors in the logo to present the image consistently on the Web, in print and on promotional items.
  • If the logo begins to look out of date — at some point almost all of them do — you have to start the process all over again. But the next time around, if you choose a wildly different design, you’ve walked sideways into a complete rebranding campaign — more than you bargained for when you launched your logo the first time.

Having reviewed these drawbacks and hidden costs, you may be in a better position to answer the question: Does our business need a logo?

Because marketing budgets are always stretched no matter how big they are, it’s worthwhile to consider all of the associated costs of a logo along with the raw cost of creating it. You may never be able to pinpoint the precise benefit of a logo, but at least you won’t be surprised by the impact on your budget.

Remember, too, that merely because the value of a logo is hard to pin down does not mean it has no value. Logos can, in fact, be extremely valuable. If your logo becomes widely recognized and respected, it becomes a very valuable asset of your business, and a powerful tool in opening doors to new sales opportunities.

Author Bio:

Brad Shorr is Director of Content Strategy at Straight North, one of the leading Internet marketing agencies in Chicago that offers SEO, PPC and web design services. With more than 25 years of sales and marketing experience, Brad has been featured in leading online publications including Entrepreneur, Moz and Smashing Magazine.