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BusinessColumnistsJamie Herzlich

For small firms, a simple logo that includes your name is best

Keep your company logo simple to give it

Keep your company logo simple to give it the highest impact. Oct. 17, 2012 Credit: Getty Images / Anatoliy Babiy

When it comes to logos, think simple — like Amazon’s and FedEx’s.

A recent analysis of some 2,000 logos from the 2016 Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest growing companies by Brooklyn-based SmartSign found that 94 percent were minimal, with simple, clean designs that could be scaled larger or smaller without losing detail.

While successful logos share some common characteristics, a company’s logo is very specific to its culture and brand and needs to reflect those core attributes, experts say.

“Your logo needs to reflect your company in a unique and honest way,” says Kerry Young, vice president and creative director at Crown Advertising & Marketing in Hauppauge. “It’s a critical part of a company’s brand.”

Given that, it’s important to “figure out who you are and be honest about who you are,” she says.

It’s also best to keep it simple, otherwise you will just confuse your audience, Young says.

With that said, for small businesses, having a logo that features both a name and a symbol generally works better than just having a symbol like some of the bigger brands do.

In fact, according to the SmartSign analysis, 66 percent of logos used both an icon and wordmark.

“With a small company, name recall is very important,” says Stephen Spurgeon, owner of Liquid Marketing Group, a North Massapequa advertising agency. “By putting a memorable icon or symbol with the name of the company, it makes the recall that much faster.”

Kristen Buckley, owner of Huntington-based, an e-commerce store that sells stones engraved with inspirational quotes, opted to use both her company name and a symbol in her new logo.

The logo is the name of her company within a circle that appears as an incomplete brush stroke.

“It’s meant to be an imperfect circle of life because everyone is a little broken and a work in progress,” says Buckley, who is also a life coach. “It’s simple, yet it has a definite feeling to it,” she says.

And it’s also in black, which is in line with SmartSign’s findings that 56 percent of the logos analyzed used dark colors as primaries, such as black, gray and blue.

Young advises sticking with three colors or fewer. In the SmartSign analysis, 89 percent of logos did just that.

“When you look at your best logos, most are in one color,” Young says.

Keep in mind a logo has to look good in both color and black and white, Spurgeon says. “All logos at one time or another are going to be reproduced in black and white.”

Color is also subjective, with varying cultural preferences, Spurgeon says. “You have to know who your audience is,” he says, noting that blue is popular in the United States while red is popular in China.

Also be careful about picking the trendy color of the year. Two years from now that color will have “cooled down” and you’re stuck with it, says Rick Chiorando, chief creative officer at Austin & Williams, a Hauppauge advertising and marketing agency.

When designing a logo, the team at Austin & Williams will talk to key stakeholders beyond the firm’s owners, including c-level executives, customers and prospects, and in some cases clients the firm has lost.

“What we are really trying to get out of them is the DNA . . . the essence of that firm,” Chiorando says. “We’re trying to define the true personality of the firm.”

They also scope out the competition and build a matrix of all their logos, fonts, colors, etc.

“We look for the white space . . . a spot where no one else is living,” he says. “We look beyond the font and the color of a logo and tap into what places them outside that sea of sameness.”

Dominant shape


Percentage of logos that are angular shapes, such as squares, triangles and rectangles. Angular logos are perceived as representing stability, balance and efficiency.

Source: SmartSign study of 2,000 logos from the 2016 Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest Growing Companies

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