A B2B SaaS brand is so much more than just a logo, it’s an identity that breathes character into your business. Learn the key strategies for how to...
Would you believe a small icon can make a big difference in your business's impact and impression?
Your logo is the first point of contact between you and your customers. When it is done right, your logo will serve as the center of your B2B SaaS brand and the mark that helps your audience identify and connect with your brand's story.
In my experience designing logos for SaaS founders, there are three main pitfalls that they tend to fall into. The first is failing to realize the value and potential of creating an impactful logo and choosing the safe option. The result is lackluster branding, which hurts the company’s credibility and causes them to disappear from the market among the other logos. In contrast, some companies try too hard to communicate too many things through their logo, resulting in an overcomplicated symbol that no longer serves its purpose. Lastly, I’ve seen many companies design a logo as a separate entity from the visual brand, and as a result, the brand becomes an incoherent mess.
To avoid these pitfalls, here are the five criteria our team measures each of our logos against:
First impressions are everything. When you are navigating the sea of logos in the B2B SaaS market, the logos that grab your attention are usually the more simplistic ones because they look more credible and professional.
Take a look at the two logos below for example.
The left logo looks far more credible than the right logo. It is simple, modern, bold, and instantly recognizable due to the way the icon is integrated into the word mark. On the other hand, the right logo uses literal imagery and is overly complex, so it blends into the logos that also use similar imagery and does not elicit a strong first impression. The reality is, people will not take the extra time to decipher what overly complicated logos are trying to communicate. The brain prefers simplicity. They look for logos that give them a positive emotional response.
A good logo focuses on being a brand identifier rather than trying to carry the full weight of a brand’s message. Brands should spend less time and effort trying to cram meaning into the logo and more time figuring out how to elicit an impactful emotional reaction with it.
If your logo imagery is too literal or specific to your industry or offering, it restricts your company from expanding in the future and may isolate or exclude some of your potential ICPs. This may be fine in the short term but in the long term you may need to pivot your branding if that imagery no longer fits your product offer and no longer appeals to your audience.
Instead, it’s best to stick with a design that, while still representing your brand, is vague enough to allow you to expand your business over time without the need for a major rebrand.
For example, if you are a facilities maintenance company that started out with hotel management you will always be associated with hotels if you use that imagery in your logo like the right image. Whereas if you have a vague but unique icon from the beginning, it keeps your possibilities open for the foreseeable future like the image on the left.
Generic imagery will also make you disappear and be less memorable in a sea of competitors who may also use the same imagery in their logo. Therefore, a good strategy is to strive to look like an industry leader. Be different, be bold; simple but memorable.
Keep in mind, however, that while you should strive to be unique, you need to be aware of the logos and bands in your industry. While it may be impossible to create a completely unique logo, if you can stand out from your competition, you are on the right track.
For example, the left logo above uses imagery that is completely outside of the industry which makes it stand out against the competition more than if you used typical imagery like the one on the right.
A successful logo allows the audience to instantly associate it with a brand the moment they see it. A common mistake companies make in order to differentiate their logos from competitors is to add a bunch of details to try and make a grand statement. However, it is likely that our brains will not remember those details because we can only retain so much information at a time. Therefore, creating a simple logo helps remove details that don't hold value so that there is less visual information to retain thus making the logo significantly more memorable.
As you can see, the logo on the left is arguably more memorable because it has fewer elements for the brain to memorize which makes it easy to instantly recall when you see the symbol paired with the brand color. The logo on the left has so many elements to it that functions more as an art piece than it would as a logo. The complicated imagery makes it harder to associate with a specific company when seen alone, especially because it also is not paired with a brand color.
Because the brand presence of a SaaS company is so largely online, it’s crucial that your logo can be adapted to fit many types of digital assets and screen sizes. For this purpose, having a logo that is widely scalable is essential.
More simple shapes and designs logos translate much better on-screen and print because they maintain their integrity when scaled down to a very small size. Having a technically sound logo helps create a more professional-looking website for desktop and mobile.
A rule of thumb when creating a technically sound logo is to do the squint test. Scale the logo down, sit a distance away from the screen and squint your eyes. You should still be able to register your logo when you squint. If any details are lost, it is best to cut them out of the design.
Here are a few more best practices for creating a technically sound logo:
- Avoid fine lines
- Avoid small details
- Avoid using too many colors. Stick with 2-3 colors.
- Avoid complex imagery
- Avoid loose or floating elements—keep everything contained in one symbol
5. Designing for systems
Designing with the intention of creating a system is what separates good brands from great brands. That’s why, when I am designing a logo I am also thinking about ways to incorporate a design system. The design system governs how each brand element works together to tell a visual story effectively with impact. When a logo is well done, we can use elements within the logo to create patterns, graphics, and more, to create a cohesive brand that looks like they all belong together. This in turn governs how fonts, colors, buttons, icons, and layout grids of a website will look.
When thinking of a design system, the concept of "less is more" will be your best friend. The strongest brands have simple yet unique logos with only a couple of core brand elements that tie them all together. It's imperative not to have too much going on because that will muddy the brand's identity. When you keep your logo simple, you are setting up the rest of your brand for success.
The design system is especially useful for your front-end developers and product managers to keep your website and software looking cohesive. This will be important when you are trying to stand out and capture your audience's attention. Your audience will perceive your brand as more credible and professional the more cohesive it looks.
This credibility is very important for B2B SaaS companies as they need to look cutting edge in order to gain attraction in the saturated market. You can imagine how much better it is to have a brand that has elements that work well together as opposed to one that has a bunch of different elements trying to look cohesive.
A great example of where this is useful for B2B SaaS companies is when you have more than one product under your umbrella. With a logo system, you are able to create multiple logos for each of your solutions that all look like they belong together. That way, people can recognize your product and associate it with your brand.
Tips for creating a simple SaaS logo
Be unique—don't be generic. Watch out for obvious imagery that will isolate your other ICPs. When ten of your competitors have car imagery for their logos, don't add another car to the scene. Make your logo stand out by abstracting a concept that appeals to an idea, a feeling, or a story. Make sure you choose one idea, not ten.
When you try to do too much and pack too many concepts into a logo, it starts to become more of an illustrative piece rather than an actual logo. Your logo should serve as an identifier and mark, not as a symbol that tells the whole story so don’t get too tied up on making your logo perfect. While the logo is an important identifier, it is also only one small piece of what makes a great brand. It is how you represent the rest of your brand that helps you tell your story. Read more about this in our other blog “Your B2B brand strategy needs more than just a logo.”
Take risks! Don't be afraid! Choosing the safe option is easy because it has been done many times before. In many cases, however, your most powerful contender is the one you're afraid to pick at first. Successful logos become iconic over time as your company builds credibility and presence.
So with all that said, are you ready to make the change and create a powerful brand? Here is a resource on how to successfully rebrand a company to get started.
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