Hey there, thanks for joining me again this week.

So it’s branding week here on the Small Farm Nation podcast. And what do most people think of when they think of branding?

They think of logos. In fact, many people think that their logo is their brand. Of course your brand is much more than just your logo. Still, the logo design is something that people fret over.  And too often, people end up doing a really shabby job themselves, or paying someone else hundreds of dollars to create a logo they don’t really like.

And none of it is necessary. I mean, think about it—why are you creating a logo in the first place? Because everyone else does, right?  Or because you just think you’re supposed to. Just like with business planning, you create a complex business plan because everyone else does.

Don’t get me wrong, now I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t have a logo. It can be a very effective branding tool. I’m just saying that many people overthink this one and place WAY more importance on it than it warrants.

Because, remember, It’s your NAME that is your most important brand asset! It’s your NAME you want to brand, not necessarily an icon or graphical element.

Get updates from Small Farm Nation!

When there's new free content, podcasts or videos, I'll let you know!

However, when done well, graphical elements can help create the brand impression you want, whether fun and whimsical or a serious legacy. But, we don’t want to create unnecessary elements that complicate and confuse your brand.

We want folks to remember YOU AND YOUR NAME…not what you’re wearing.

But that’s exactly where people often go wrong. The name is the important thing. Yet, logos are often designed that don’t showcase the name and firmly imprint it in the customer’s mind.

So let me start by going through 8 sins I see that people commit when choosing a logo design. Here we go.

Mistake #1 is they don’t make the farm name prominent. Remember, it’s the name we want people to silently mouth when they see the logo, to remember. Yet, with so many farm logos you can’t even see the name, especially on a mobile device.

If you do a Google search on “farm logo design” and look at the images, they’re usually templates for you to stick your farm name in. That’s what people often do, even those designers you hire, and it’s a mistake. Because in almost all those templates the farm name is small and overshadowed by other elements. So remember this more than anything else in this episode: YOU MUST MAKE YOUR NAME PROMINENT AND MAKE IT STAND OUT. Why we don’t do this brings me to sin#2.

Mistake #2 is that, pretty much everyone, adds unnecessary graphical elements. I cannot tell you how many times I see this, especially when someone posts their logo design on Facebook and asks for feedback. They create an overly-complex design using standard clipart and stock imagery! They fall in love with the notion of putting little icons or illustrations of sheep, cows, carrots, hills, barns, sunsets, chickens or whatever. Often, they put a bunch of those, stacking chickens on pigs on cows.

All this does is creates a big image of icons with a little farm name underneath it that’s too small to read. When you look at the logo as a whole, what does your mind see and say? It sees a farm scene. That’s not what we want! We want it to see your name.

Look, you don’t need animals or farm icons in your design. After all, your name probably says farm, right? Or creamery, ranch, acres, homestead or something that gives a sense of what you do. That’s the beauty of farming. We don’t have obscure names like Google and Hulu. The name Hulu, by the way, comes from two Mandarin Chinese words. It literally translates to “gourd”, and in ancient times, the Hulu was hollowed out and used to hold precious things.

Whatever.

The point is I had to look that up. I don’t have to look up what “farm” means and neither does anyone else. Heck, even pre-schoolers know what a farm is. So inherent in your name is a description of what you do. You don’t need a big chicken in the design for people to get it.

largest brand namesNow, before you tell me, “well I have to have some graphical element in my design!”, consider this. Let’s take a look at the logos of the top 7 brands in the world.

Those brands are Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Coca-Cola, Amazon and Disney.

What do you see? What stands out?

Apple stands out from the others, because it’s the only one that has a graphical element. Every other logo is nothing more than text!

Google has a market cap of about $800 BILLION, and it’s logo could have (and may have) been created by a young child. Just the letters G-O-O-G-L-E, each in a different primary color. A perfect kindergarten homework assignment.

Facebook is just the letters that comprise it, all in lower case with a boxy font in blue.

We all know the Coca-Cola logo, simply a script font in red letters. And Disney isn’t much different—just a fun font that resembles Walt Disney’s signature. Amazon too is just the word Amazon.com. Sure, today you see that little arrow that connects the A to the Z underneath, but they didn’t have that at first. And mostly what you see with their logo is just their name. amazon.com.

And that’s what you want!

The same thing applies to a bunch of other well-known brands.

Hershey’s is all text. Calvin Klein is all text. Yahoo and Kleenex are all text.

largest brand namesAnd these have become HUMONGOUS, well-known brands even with simple, text logos.

Yet, for some reason, you think you need a cute logo with all kinds of graphical nonsense to become a “real” business. But all you’re doing is confusing people.

Make your name stand out, and make sure people recall your name.

Mistake #3 is not considering how you’ll use the logo. Another thing I notice about those big-name logos I just mentioned is how horizontal they are. By comparison, I notice many farms create square logos. They do this to incorporate the graphics in the logo. Now, here’s the problem with that. Most of us use our logos most prominently on our websites, in the headers. And horizontal logos look much better in the header and nav bars on websites that square or round logos do.

So it’s really important to consider where you’ll most often use your logo as a branding element. If it’s in your nav bar a horizontal design featuring your name is a good choice. 

Now, to be fair, other than Calvin Klein, each of those big-name brands I mentioned is either a single word—such as Google, Apple, Disney or Facebook—or a made to look like a single word in the case of FedEx or Coca-Cola.

By comparison, most farm names tend to be at least two if not three or four words, usually ending in farm, acres, pastures, creamery or ranch. But now you see why this issue of logo design is directly related to creating a name for your farm, which I covered in an earlier episode.

If you think through how you’ll use your logo and conclude it needs to be horizontal, perhaps that will lead you to create a more simple farm name. Like Google Acres (don’t do that).

Moving on…

Mistake #4 is that farms, and many small businesses, often make poor typeface choices. In other words, they pick a bad font that makes the name and/or tagline difficult to read. I don’t need to spend a ton of time on this issue. Just remember that, when in doubt, clarity is the right choice. Choose a typeface that’s easy to read so that people see your name and recall it.

Mistake #5 is poor contrast and questionable color choices. This most often is a sin committed by the do it yourselfer, but you see it also in Fiverr and other cheap logo designs.

Just as you don’t need lots of graphical elements in your logo design (as the worlds largest companies prove) you don’t need lots of colors. Unless you’re Google, I guess.

So, just as you need a clear typeface, you want great contrast in your logo. So don’t make your name in blue and put it on a red background.

Remember, in logo design, it’s ALL ABOUT MAKING YOUR NAME STAND OUT!

Mistake #6 is thinking you can design your logo yourself. This happens all the time and is an insult to high-quality professional designers. I mean, who do we think we are? Have we been graphically trained? Do we have the necessary design tools on our computers—do we have years of experience?

Of course not, in most cases. Yet it seems easy enough so we grab some clip art or icons, slap something together and call it a day.

It’s the same with photography as we all snap smartphone photos of our farm or us as farmers and think we’re photographers.

We are. But we’re not “great” photographers. And we’re not great designers.

So, if you want or need a great design then get a great designer. At a minimum look to 99 Designs or similar quality designers. But—

Mistake #7 is thinking you CAN’T design your logo yourself. I mean, if your logo is going to be only text, as in the case of the world’s largest companies, don’t you think you can pull that off? You can spell your farm name, can’t you?

So just hop on Canva and create a text logo. Choose a font that is consistent with the brand “feeling” you want to convey. And the same with a color. If you’re not sure how to create a color scheme for your brand, head over to coolors.co. There’s a free color scheme generator there that will guide you on how to easily select colors that look great together for your farm brand.

Then just brand your farm name in the form of a logo. Tim’s Turkeys, for example. And be done with it. Finally—

Mistake #8 is thinking the logo design matters more than it does. New entrepreneurs often give this issue WAY more thought than it deserves. Honestly, I think it’s often a stalling tactic—they can’t start their business until they get the logo right. Just like they can’t start until they get the business plan right and so on.

Your brand is important. Your brand name is important. But, if Google can build an $800 BILLION business with a pre-school text logo, why do you think you need something better? If you’re confident with what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, you don’t need to hide behind a logo design.

And if you’re not comfortable, then go back and create your one-page farm business plan.

Now there is one situation where your logo and branding design definitely does matter. And that is on packaging, particularly point-of-sale packaging. So if the packaging is a key part of your sales strategy then, by all means, invest in a strong brand design. And use a professional.

But, that’s not the case for 99% of farms I see. And if it becomes part of your strategy later then deal with it then. For now, just get started with a logo that hammers home your name.

So, here’s what I think you should consider when designing your logo.

  1. Don’t be afraid to do a text only logo. If Google and Coke can build great businesses with nothing more than that…why can’t you? Clearly, it’s NOT the logo that determines success.
  2. Try for a horizontal design…or at least consider how it will look on your website.  Remember, your name is your most important brand asset. We don’t want it to be so small it’s unreadable in the header.
  3. And, whatever name you choose, brand it prominently in the design. Let the eyes go straight to your name, and not to any iconic elements. We want your name to take up 80% of the design and not have most of the design be graphical elements, such as animals, plants or something else.
  4. Finally, consider how your name looks when the logo is small. This is critical because 60% or more of consumers will see your logo on a tiny smartphone screen. And you want your name to pop, so look at this closely.

Now, you’ve heard all this but you’re thinking, “I still want some cute farm icons in my design. I don’t want a boring text-only logo.”

So, how do you know when to add a graphical element to your design? Here are three indicators.

  1. Because your name or offering isn’t intuitive and an image can help tell the story.
  2. To better convey your values and mission.
  3. Or, you’re selling in retail stores where point of sale packaging is important.

If either of those is the case, then go for a graphical design, but, be careful and do it right! That usually means hiring a great designer.

That doesn’t mean you can’t get a great logo for five bucks on Fiverr. In fact, I showed a video lesson in the Small Farm Nation Academy of me doing just that. Getting an awesome farm logo on Fiverr for my fictions farm, Forever Young Farm. And I showed how to do it.

But you’ll have to manage the process the way I did in that video lesson. Otherwise, you’ll get a really bad logo.

Hey—whatta ya expect for five bucks?

Okay, so I’ve separated what’s NOT important with your logo design from what IS important. So if you’re designing a new logo you now know what to focus on.

And if you have an existing logo that commits some of these sins—and I know many of you do—have a new logo designed. And make sure it’s your NAME they remember, and not a piece of cheap farm clipart.

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help the show:

Thanks for listening. Until next time!

OTHER WAYS TO ENJOY THIS EPISODE

Download on iTunes