Why 'just a logo' is Just Not Enough for your Small Biz

You've got your Small Biz idea and you're ready to jump in and never look back! (Hint: maybe you should start with the Small Biz Start Up Guide to get your small biz planning and legal in order.)


You'Ve got your idea and you want a logo, A.S.A.P...


...to stick on hats, shirts, business cards and car decals. But who makes logos? Where do you start? Maybe you head to facebook to find a local design student, or someone's sister-in-law's cousin's stepson or daughter who has illustrator to get a logo as fast and as cheap as possible. Maybe you read the Entrepreneur Manifesto The Four Hour Workweek and think hiring someone on Fiverr for a $5 logo is a good move. 


I'm here to say this is a terrible idea. 

And, I am here to tell you WHY.

...WHY your small business idea not only needs, but DESERVES a brand and not just a logo. 

Branding 101

Last week at WeWork B Street in Downtown San Diego, your Small Biz Start Up Guide Team led a presentation called Get Branded: What every Small Biz Needs for a Stellar Visual First Impression. Here are the slides from that presentation:

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What's the difference between a logo and a brand anyway?

The terms 'logo' and 'brand' often get used interchangeably, but really they mean two different things.

The logo is the mark, icon, or combination of text that should be the visual representation of your brand.

A brand, is the combination of logos, colors, fonts, graphics, and photography that are used to represent and market your small biz to your ideal client. For more info, read: What's the difference between a Logo and a Brand Explained in Cake


So, why do I need a 'brand'?

A brand takes the ideas and concepts from your small biz idea (mission and vision statement super important here!) and expands on them to create a visual toolbox from which you can build out the rest of your collateral.

For example, if you're going to open a bakery, of course you need a logo for your signage. But have you thought about what your menus will look like? What fonts and colors and photography style you'll use? Will you have a website? A mobile app? How will your logo display when embroidered on aprons? On to-go bags and cups? How will you let the community know about your grand opening? Posters? Flyers? Videos? Facebook Ads? 

Your brand is how your small business looks, speaks and interacts with your ideal client. You've only got one shot to make a first impression, and in today's digital age of Small Business Ownership, we want to make sure that you're putting your best foot forward! 


What's included in Brand Design?

Every designer is different, but typically, brand design includes: 


  • LOGO VARIATIONS: Submarks, Expanded Marks, Social Media Profile Graphics



  • TYPOGRAPHY (fancy word for fonts)



  • MOCK UPS: renderings of Print and Digital Collateral

  • SUPPORTING GRAPHICS: patterns, icons, textures)

  • Everything Packaged together in glossy Brand Guides

  • Final Files delivered digitally

For a more in depth explanation of this, read: What the Heck are Brand Guides and Why your Small Biz Needs Them.

The Proof is in the Pudding (Numbers)

Small Biz Branding is covered extensively in Phase 3 of the Small Biz Start Up Guide and we've pulled the stats to prove why branding is so so so important for Small Business Owners: 

Small Biz Branding Stats

As a modern small business owner, you don't always know where your first point of contact is going to be with your ideal client. They could meet you in person and get ahold of your business card, or they could be cruising facebook, instagram, or pinterest and come across you material. They could find you through Google. In the information age, consistency in branding is everything. We can probably agree that it's jarring when you get a great business card from someone, then you hop over to their website and you see it is super dated, doesn't give you the information you're looking for, and doesn't help you solve the problem at hand. 

Whether you are a service professional, or your small biz is a product, you're in the business of helping PEOPLE and appealing to PEOPLE. People trust brands that they think are reliable, trustworthy and provide VALUE. In the miliseconds you have to capture that ideal client, wouldn't you want to have a positive impact?


You need more than Just a logo to accomplish this...

...you need a brand.

How do you make the most of your brand guides?

If you've never seen or used brand guides before, here's how to go about using them.


Smaller margin of error

Think of your brand guides like your rulebook. 

  • Your brand should only use THESE colors.

  • Your brand should try your best to use THESE fonts.

  • Your brand's logo should always display like THIS.

When the expectations for how your brand should look are clear from the get go, there is a smaller margin of error when working with designers, developers, printers, etc. A smaller margin of error means that you're more efficient, more polished, and can get marketing projects done faster, leaving you more time to do what you're best at, your small biz! Send your PDF Brand Guides to anyone who is helping you with your marketing collateral to ensure they are using the correct fonts, colors, and styles. 



We get it! You're a small biz owner and probably ballin' on a budget! Investing in a brand from the beginning stages is SCARY and *can be* a hefty investment. Here's why we think investing in brand design is worth it: 

  • POLISH - a professional graphic designer will provide you with the correct files in the correct resolution to make sure that your logo and graphics are crisp, clear and beautifully representing your brand

  • PROFESSIONALISM - people like to work with professionals. Your logo and brand will be much better received by your ideal client if it looks legit, and doesn't look like chicken scratch

  • AVOID STARTING OVER, AND STARTING OVER AGAIN - If you design a brand you love from the beginning, chances are you'll want to keep it for a looooong while. This is important because it takes a great deal of time for ideal clients to warm up to a brand, and to feel comfortable forking over their hard earned dollars for that product or service. If your brand colors, fonts and logos are changing regularly, you'll cause confusion for your ideal client... something you definitely don't need as a new small biz owner. Doing it right the first time will save you money down the road that you'd have to spend on a bunch of newbie designers who may not understand your vision or clientele.

  • DIY SOME OF IT - Once you have defined brand guides, it makes it much easier to create your own graphics for blogs, social media, pinterest, events, sales, etc. Use your guides to give you a framework and your collateral will stay on point.

brand guides as style springboards

Working with a photographer? Show them your brand guides! Match your photos for your website or your social media strategy to the colors, fonts, logos and graphics lined up in your brand guides. Create your own Pinterest or Social graphics based on the set guides to create consistency! Creating merch? Consult those brand guides. Coming up with a Social Media Content Marketing strategy? Brand guides are your best friend.

Now... imagine trying to accomplish all of your print and digital marketing to-do's with ONLY a logo. Do you see where just a logo might sell your biz short? Might not cover all that your small biz actually needs?

Not so easy, is it? 

You know what is easy?

Getting your hands on a copy of the Small Biz Start Up Guide! Full of small biz planning, legal and branding advice, our 100+ page eBook will help you make sure that your Small Biz idea comes to fruition!

Don’t Need the Whole Guide?

You can now grab stand alone chapters from the Guide. I discuss all the topics in this blog in Phase 3. Snag your copy here.