I find this an intriguing question that a friend asked me recently. Do you really need a logo before you can do marketing?They were told by someone that it would be a waste of money to first develop a logo before they advertise their home industry on Facebook. Apparently the logo is “not that important” and they should just “get going with marketing”. On the surface this advice made logical sense, but they still felt strangely uncomfortable with the approach. Deep down they first wanted a logo.

You see, this issue of the role of the logo cuts deep to the heart of marketing. It is a topic of academic study and I personally find it fascinating that even the smallest business owner can have some of the biggest marketing questions. It is in fact why I believe there is such a need for high quality marketing advice to entrepreneurs.

Fundamentally, the question of the logo goes deeper than a pure focus on marketing. The real question is whether a business can even exist without a logo?

Can Nike exist without the swoosh? Can Ferrari build cars without the prancing horse?

Obviously, if the business can exist without its logo, then sure, go ahead and do marketing, without the logo. Don’t wait.

But we all know that a business is never just what it makes. The physical operation is but a small part of the actual business. Something never is just what it is. It is what it means. It is what it feels. It is how it makes your blood pump. How it stirs your emotions.

Ferrari isn’t a business because it builds cars. It is a business because it builds beasts for the road, made in Italy. Nike isn’t a business because it makes shoes, but because it makes that shoe that gives you the feeling of beating your best.

There is meaning and caring and emotion involved in a business, and this is what a logo captures. It’s a symbol of identity, and personality, and vision, and heart and soul.

When you see the logo in this light you quickly understand why no business should exist without a logo. It is the story captured by the logo that sets it apart from every other business that bakes cakes, builds cars or sells shoes.

But what about a small business that is just starting out? Can it not park the logo development for a later stage?

It can, but at a cost.

The longer you wait to capture the rawness of emotion and drive and belief that fuels those first few entrepreneurial steps, the more it gets diluted by daily operational pressures. Before long you have lost sight of why it is you are doing what you’re doing. Your company suffers a crises of identity. Your marketing becomes confused and lost in a sea of others selling similar stuff. You become just another shoe maker or car maker.

The best thing you can do for a new business is to capture its essence early-on in the form of a logo. It does not have to be the version that you’ll live with forever, or expensively designed. But it should be up there, like a signpost, from the moment you get going.

Do this before you do any marketing.

Image credit: Flickr