Private label cosmeceutical company graphic designer Clare Mansfield covers the key considerations for successful logo design for an aesthetic clinic.
Aesthetic clinics are often small businesses that are competing in an increasingly saturated market. Good company branding and logo design are therefore essential for a clinic to stand out from the crowd to procure and retain patients. This article covers why a good clinic logo is important, what some of the commonly-made mistakes in designing a logo are, and how to design the most effective logo for your clinic.
A company logo is a key component of company branding, comprising the creation of the name, symbol or design which gives your clinic its visual presence in the marketplace. Although logo design is just one subset of branding, the logo or brand mark remains the centrepiece of most branding schemes.1
Good company branding for an aesthetic clinic needs to tell the story of what makes the clinic unique and make an emotional connection with potential patients.2 This need for an immediate emotional connection is considered in a previous Aesthetics journal article which discusses brand identities specifically within the context of the aesthetics specialty. Developer Mark Shahid writes, “In the short time you have to impress a new patient, creating a strong visual identity which can be quickly absorbed is key to a successful brand.”3
In a competitive market, aesthetic clinics need to stand out from the crowd, appeal to potential new patients, and go on to build long-lasting relationships with patients. The right branding and company logo can go a long way in helping your clinic to achieve these aims, and to increase the perceived value of the clinic’s products and services.
Knowing how essential it is to get company branding right to build a successful business, it can seem like an overwhelming task to decide on the right logo for your clinic, many people do make mistakes.
Over complicated design When attempting to tell a story and make an emotional connection with potential patients, a common mistake is for business owners to overcomplicate their logo by trying to convey too much information, or be too literal in describing what they do. Some of the most successful global brands have extremely simple logos, for example McDonald’s golden arches or the Nike swoosh. These logos themselves do not describe what McDonald’s and Nike do, but are globally recognised, remembered, and associated with specific products, values and experiences. The benefits of keeping a logo simple are discussed in detail in graphic designer David Airey’s book Logo Design Love.4
Another common mistake is to fail to consider all the applications in which a logo needs to work. A good logo needs to convey the same message, and be equally recognisable at all sizes, whether being printed or used digitally, and in different colour options: one colour (monotone), two colour or full colour.
A well-designed logo can be used in a wide range of sizes and applications and it is useful to have different colour options for your logo, allowing for flexibility depending on the printing process, or on other design elements such as background colour. Colour options such as a dark logo to go on a light background, and a light logo to go on a dark background should be based on the clinic’s brand colours, which should not be altered. A logo that looks great on a multicoloured, large format banner may not be as effective as one on a single colour sticker or a small social media post. This need for versatility is another strong argument towards aiming for simplicity in a company logo.
Airey states in his guide to creating iconic brand identities that, “A design should ideally work at a minimum of around one inch (2.5cm), without loss of detail.”4 Elements that only work at a larger size such as long straplines or complicated illustrations should therefore be avoided. Loss of detail can lead to a strapline or even a company name being illegible or hard to recognise.4
Despite the need for versatility, consistency in terms of how a logo appears is fundamental to its success. For example, if a logo appears in different shades of what should be the same brand colour, or if proportions are different on different products, this greatly undermines the perceived professionalism of the business. Lack of consistency also means that a logo is not necessarily recognised and brand recognition is all important for a logo to be successful. All versions of a company logo, once designed, should be treated as master copies and never changed for a specific job or to work in a particular context. Elements of how the logo appears such as brand colours, proportions, and typeface should be written up as brand guidelines, shared with your team and always adhered to. Adapting your clinic’s logo and other brand elements on an ad-hoc basis for different applications is a common mistake, and reduces the perceived quality and value of the business or products.
A good logo should create a strong, unique and instantly recognisable visual identity, while differentiating a product or business from its competitors. We are all surrounded by the same influences and points of reference, and it is easy to make the mistake of coming up with an ‘original’ logo idea which is actually very similar or even identical to that of another clinic. It is essential to research the logos and branding of competing businesses, on local, national and global levels, and reject any ideas which are similar enough to cause confusion, look unoriginal, or even breach copyright or trademarking legislation. More information about trademarking legislation and how to register your logo once it is designed can be found on the UK government’s website.5
Despite the need for originality, any logo design needs to be appropriate for the business it identifies, and reflect the relevant cultural understanding of visual cues, such as particular colours and shapes. Branding strategist Andi Davids states in The Power of Symbols, “Knowing the cultural codes and narratives familiar to your audiences allows you to develop appropriate visual and linguistic cues, and ultimately build more resonant brands.”6 As an example, a colour combination of blue and white is commonly associated with the medical industries, while metallic silvers and golds convey a feeling of luxury.7 In trying to achieve originality, a logo design can go too far and fail to communicate the nature of the products or business it is promoting, by moving away from commonly understood cultural cues.
Fundamentally, a good logo needs to make an emotional connection with potential or existing patients, conveying the values of the business and the brand. For example, your clinic may want to communicate medical expertise to reassure your patients that they are in safe hands, whereas another clinic may want to stand out as providing a luxurious and relaxing experience. The key to designing a good clinic logo is understanding your business aims, your target audience and what makes your clinic unique. Designing a good logo means generating a specific emotional response to a simple graphic mark, which is no easy task. Although you can design a logo yourself, or come up with some ideas, you might want to consider working with a graphic designer who is experienced in logo and branding design and is not emotionally invested in the business. This enables them to look at it objectively and see the logo from the audience’s perspective, rather than the clinic owner’s.
1. Brainstorm your company’s values
The design process starts with gaining an understanding how you want to portray your business in a logo. Think about your clinic’s main activities, its vision and values, what makes it unique, its competitors, and its main target audience. If you are working with a designer/design agency, you will need to create a brief for them that includes the above information so they can accurately portray your values. Questions to ask at the briefing stage are discussed in more detail in Katy Cowan’s article ‘50 questions to ask a client prior to designing a logo’.8
2. Let the creative juices flow
The creative process of coming up with original, simple and clever logo ideas starts with the information gathered in your first brainstorm. This is the most creative stage of designing a logo and tends to involve firstly using an old-fashioned pen and paper rather than the computer. I recommend that you let your brain go into free flow, making connections and coming up with visual ways of expressing information, focusing in on your clinic’s unique selling point and target audience. At this stage come up with as many creative ideas as you can, you can always edit them further on in the process. This is certainly what a graphic designer would do.
3. Be selective
The next stage is for you, or your graphic designer if you have one, to select maybe three or four of the best concepts and work them up into a presentable form. If you are working with a designer, they will present these ideas back to you for your feedback, which is invaluable as you have the best understanding of your clinic. If you are working at it by yourself it’s worth getting feedback from others, such as people connected to the specialty or even your patients. By getting different perspectives, you will develop one or more concepts until arriving at the best logo design.
A well-designed logo is a key part of making a clinic successful as it will help you stand out from your competitors. A good logo for an aesthetic clinic needs to be simple, versatile, unique, instantly recognisable and relevant to the business. The logo designing process can inform the overall business plan for the company due to the need to identify the vision, values, unique selling point and target audience of the clinic.
It is well worth aesthetic clinics investing the time, and perhaps the money if they need a designer, to create an effective company logo which will make a connection between the clinic and its target audience, attracting new customers, retaining existing patients and ultimately increasing sales.