Part of this blog is going to be pointless. I’m going to give 100% accurate advice to anyone about to start a new business, and none of you are going to follow it. You can’t. It’s not your fault. You just have to go through the process. I’m going to, later on, give a version of the same advice to people running established businesses. Some of you MIGHT listen, so that’s why I’m doing this.
I have started… eight? … nine? companies in my lifetime, and I’ve helped people start countless more. When you start a business, there are two HUGE decisions you have to make. These decisions very well could follow the company for its entire existence. And because these two things are so important, it makes sense that they are debated and agonized over for hours, days, weeks, or even months.
I bet you’ve already guessed what they are:
The company name. And the logo.
The name of the business that people will say, hear, and remember, and the visual identity of the organization. What could be bigger, right?
But here’s the thing — they don’t matter — neither one. One aspect of the logo matters, and we’ll get to that in a bit, but it’s not the part you’re stressing about.
So, right now you’re thinking I’m bat shit crazy. How could the NAME and the LOGO not matter?!
And my scientific answer is: because they don’t.
Let’s think of some of the names of the most successful companies on Earth. Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pepsi, Publix, Walgreens, Walmart, Toyota, Microsoft, Sony, Comcast, Hulu, McDonald’s, Target, Verizon… I could keep going, but you’re getting the idea. These company names have practically nothing to do with what they sell. A lot of them aren’t even real words in the English language. By all accounts, they are awful names. I own a pretty snazzy vehicle called a Cadillac Escalade. The company name isn’t a word that means anything in English, and the vehicle model, a wildly popular brand unto itself, also isn’t a word I could define. How about this sentence: “Should I Zelle or Venmo you to Uber us?” Those are three company names so ubiquitous you can use them as verbs, and none of them are words that have anything to do with sending money or getting driven around.
These massive, multibillion-dollar companies are called arbitrary, oftentimes nonsensical words. Your name doesn’t matter. Pick anything you like. It won’t make a difference. The one caveat to this is, since you’re a small business, put what you’re selling/offering in the name. For instance, Apple started as Apple Computers. Life Saver sells pool fences, so we are Life Saver Pool Fence. If you’re starting a car wash, call it Happy Panda (or literally whatever) Car Wash. You get the point. But stop worrying about choosing the wrong thing. It’s perfect.
The same goes for your logo. Just like the way you sign your name, your logo is important to you, should be an idea/concept YOU like, and won’t matter to anyone else. How many giant companies (like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and GM) just use their company name, maybe slightly stylized, as their logo? And others use arbitrary symbols. Your logo design won’t impact the success of your company.
Earlier, though, I did say that one aspect of your logo IS important. WHAT your logo is makes zero difference, but HOW it’s done might. While the content/idea/concept is irrelevant, it does need to be executed in a way that looks professional and competent, which makes you look like a legitimate business.
Here are the few basic things you need to get your logo right:
1) Make sure it has your company name in it, and it’s legible.
2) Don’t make it a weird shape. The whole thing should fit in a horizontal rectangle. Don’t make it super tall, or some other awkward shape.
3) Make sure it looks good real big (like on a billboard) and really small.
4) Make sure it doesn’t only look good in full color, but can be black and white or a single color as well.
5) Try to have it designed so a portion of it can represent the whole thing. For instance, Life Saver has the water drop with the lock. Facebook and Google use the “F” and the “G” from their logos, respectively.
Using those rules, have a professional design it. You can get someone solid on Fiverr inexpensively, or have a contest on 99designs (I love 99designs, myself). Don’t have your 16-year-old cousin who’s pretty good at Photoshop do it. Because WHAT you choose doesn’t matter, but the EXECUTION of it does.
To existing business owners: because the name and logo don’t matter, DON’T CHANGE THEM. Unless you have to legally, keep your name the same. There’s almost no good reason to change. And when I see a business, especially a newer business, changing its name and/or logo, ESPECIALLY more than once, I start seriously doubting its longevity. If you’ve had a logo 25+ years, and it’s looking ancient, or is breaking the rules above, then fine, go ahead. I did it with Life Saver. Our old logo broke literally all five of those rules, AND was looking seriously dated, so it had to be done. But even then, an update is better than an entirely new creation.
TL;dr: stop worrying about your company name and logo. No one cares but you. They won’t make or break your business.