I have a sickness: I am never satisfied with the state of my logo or business card or website — or just about anything I’ve designed for my business. I barely complete one version before I’m already revising it in my head. It always seems like the brilliant idea I had at the beginning of the process is eclipsed by a more brilliant idea at the end.
Except now…it hasn’t. I’ve been using this logo for close to two years. My website has looked basically the same for almost 12 months. I haven’t felt that insatiable itch to redesign and redefine my branding that haunted me all the times before.
Why? Because this version works. This funky little square logo, this brightly colored website — they work! I figured out what works.
If you feel the need to recreate your logo, do it! Because that feeling is your intuition telling you that your logo/website/business card/whatever isn’t aligned with the image you want to project. It can be absolutely gorgeous — I’ve had gorgeous logos in my time — but gorgeous does not equal effective.
It is completely acceptable to find something “gorgeous” and be unsatisfied. If we all wore every item of clothing we thought was “gorgeous” no one would have a sense of individual style. I can objectively judge clothes as being “gorgeous” (or not), and still not want to wear them. Maybe they don’t mesh with my personality. Maybe there’s something about their function that just wouldn’t work for me. Whatever it is, the clothes are still beautiful; I just don’t want to wear them.
How do I figure out what works?
Truth be told, sometimes, it’s simply trial and error, like it was for me. You start off with a design choice that you initially love, and over time, as your business grows and changes, you realize it’s not working for you anymore. So you go back to the drawing board.
More truth: This method might drive you insane. Even though I love designing, constantly questioning my logo et al. caused me a lot of stress. It isn’t fun being consistently unsatisfied, but unable to figure out why. Part of the problem was that I was creating designs without first defining my brand. Without the roadmap of knowing what I wanted my brand to be, I was just creating arbitrary designs that may or may not relate to what I actually ended up doing. It was a waste of time, effort, energy, and money to design things that went nowhere.
It was also a waste of quality design work. In retrospect, I can say that some of those throwaway designs were actually quite good. But, because I was frustrated by falling out of love yet again, I threw them over for something else. And that something else often got thrown over, as well. It is unlikely that those design ideas would have worked for someone else, but because I became disenchanted with them, I’ll never know.
If you want to avoid traveling that particular route, which I recommend, hiring a professional designer is going to be your best option. Not just because they have the education and skills that make it possible for them to create quality designs, but because they can help you figure out what you want.
I’ve discovered that one of the most important pieces of the design process is knowing which questions to ask clients to figure out who or what their businesses are. Questions about mood or environment. Questions about colors and experiences and impressions. Questions that seem incredibly abstract, but help narrow down a client’s vision to something concrete.
If your gut is telling you that something about your brand identity is off, listen to it. I struggled with that, often ignoring what my gut was telling me by telling myself, “You just spent X hours/days/weeks building this, it’s great!” It didn’t matter how great it was if it didn’t work.
You might think you don’t know what works, but trust me, YOU DO. I am not an MBA, but I know instinctively what is right for my business, and so do you. Just because it takes us a while to get there doesn’t mean we’re wrong. It just means we took the scenic route.