How to Determine If Your Logo is Competitive

Cynthia Bartz • June 8, 2015

The design of your logo is one of the most important components of your brand identity. Your logo is the name and face of your company and it has a very important job to do. A good logo will communicate what the company is, the attitude of the company, and ideally will stand apart from other companies in the space. The last thing you want someone to do is look at your logo and throw you into a category box with other companies. This happens a lot when companies lock on to design and cultural trends, rather than establishing a brand identity.

Frozen Yogurt companies are a prime example of trendy logos that result in no brand loyalty and mentally lumping companies together.

Frozen Yogurt Logos

The consistent use of saturated colors and almost identical lime green may be successful as a retail location, because people identify it immediately as a froyo shop, but does not communicate well outside of the environment. Consumers end up lumping together all yogurt shops into one, large brand in their minds. Sometimes this phenomena is subtle and other times it is painfully obvious. I have seen people refer to Yoforia as all yogurt shops. Not good. Not good if you are trying to establish a brand that people remember and come back to.

So how do you prevent your brand from fading into the background?

Research Your Competitors

The first step is to know what your competitors are doing. Of course, you’ve already done this when you were building your business plan, but this is a different type of research. You want your logo to standout visually, so you need to research the visual presence in your industry. Start by collecting logos from your direct competitors both locally and nationally, consider adding logos from related industries as well. Curate 10 – 20 logos and arrange them on a document so they are approximately the same size, with a large white space around them.

It is likely that you will notice common traits in the logos almost immediately.

Do you already have a logo for your start up? This is an excellent exercise to do early on. If you haven’t already built up brand equity and find that your current logo is not competitive, now, when your business is young and your following small is when you want to change your logo. Not after you’ve sold Walmart and realize that your company’s logo looks exactly like another competitor brand. Complete this step, but include your logo in the mix. What do you notice? Does your logo get lost? Or are you already unique in your space?

Identify Trends and Common Traits

Physically print your document of competitor logos, pin it on the wall and stand back. Looking at the logos as a whole, and at a distance will allow you to more easily identify trends in the group. As you notice the commonalities, list them out. All of them. Is green a popular color? Does everyone use a particular symbol to represent the industry? Are all of the logos rounded and soft?

It is important to note that not all of these traits you identify are bad or should even be avoided. In fact, you can use some of the traits to make your business category easily identifiable by leveraging some traits. At this stage there is no judgement, or even discussion of what should and shouldn’t be in your logo design. We are only collecting information.

If you already have a logo, write down what aspects of your logo you think are successful and areas where you can improve.

Identify Opportunities

Look over your list of common traits and look for opportunities and holes that your brand can take advantage of. This can be the most difficult part of the process. You want your logo to look unique, but you don’t want to go so far away that people are confused.

Consider which common traits you deviate from that will identify with your brand. Every decision from colors, to shapes, symbols, and name should reflect your brand and message. Make sure that you are exploiting an opportunity that will strengthen your brand and not just make you different. A dark, heavy logo would certainly stand out in a children’s clothing store, but would be very confusing if it was attached to frilly pink dresses. Every decision for your company needs to be filtered through the lens of your brand.

Design and Evaluate

Armed with information, start working through the design process with your designer. At each round of revisions drop  your logo into your document and see how it sits with the competitors. This will help you stay true to your original goal, and let you carve out your space in the industry. Each time ask: Does it stand out? Is it too similar to another logo? What adjustments do we need to make?

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