Do I need a logo? That's a question we get a lot.
Let's start by defining what a logo is. A logo is a graphic and/or typographic mark that identifies a business or organization. It is only one element, although an important one, of an overall brand identity. So there's that word. Brand. Most artists we know shy away from that word because of its corporate connotations. Totally understandable. But what exactly is a brand?
A brand is all of the experiences, knowledge and impressions a person has about your product, service, or organization. It's the emotional and functional benefits (the gut reaction) people associate with your product or services vs. the actual attributes. So as an artist or creative entrepreneur, we are willing to bet that you want people to have a positive gut reaction to what you do. That right there is the essence of your brand.
As we mentioned in the first paragraph, a logo is a small part of a "brand identity." What does that mean? A brand identity is all the visual aspects that form part of the overall brand. So if you are an artist who makes visual work, part of that identity is already established by your work. However, you might realize that you need to find a way to tie all of your other materials (website, CV, image lists, press releases, etc.) together. That means that you need to come up with a set of visual devices that you use every time you need to send out materials: choosing fonts, color palettes, layouts and so forth, that you repeatedly use so that there is a visual cohesiveness to all of your materials.
So do you need a logo?
Not necessarily. If you are an artist who is just promoting your own work under your own name, you do not need a logo. What you need is to find a typeface you like and always use across all of your materials. It is very likely that you are frequently sending out PDFs or printing out your CV or image list for exhibitions. You need to establish a visual identity for those materials (i.e., have a letterhead that always looks the same with your name, contact info and website). Bonus points if it's nicely designed. Use that same typeface on your website, and you are on your way to creating a cohesive visual identity.
So what if you are a creative entrepreneur or small business owner who has a separate business name? In that case, you might want to consider a logo, so that you can use it on product packaging as well as all of your marketing materials. Logos are a tangible way to express some of the essence and characteristics of your brand, and a good logo can help differentiate you from your competition. The main role of a logo is for identification. A logo derives its meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, which means we circle back to the idea of the brand–that positive emotional gut reaction you want your audience to have. A logo is only as good as the brand it represents.
Let us know if you have any questions or whether you have made the decision to have a logo--or not!