Attracting new clients is one of the biggest challenges for small business owners. One of the first items that comes to mind when thinking how to find new clients is a company’s brand.

What’s the best way to make sure your business sticks in the mind of everyone who sees it? Make smart design choices!

In advance of writing this piece, I spoke with Tarif Khan, a colleague of mine with over fifteen years of graphic design experience and the Head of Design at We discussed how designing intelligently means knowing your audience, doing your research, and utilizing simple tips to help your business success.

Tarif explained that “logos and other visual designs are pieces of strategic marketing, if in the right hands. But, even if small business owners aren’t professional designers there are some tips they can follow to stand out in the marketplace.”

So, together, we put together these five design techniques to make your small business memorable.

Tip #1: Keep It Simple

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You have less than ten seconds to make an impression on someone. A study discovered that it takes only 50 milliseconds for a user to form an opinion on any given web page.

Your logo must be simple in order to achieve instant recognition and peak interest while clearly communicating what your company offers. To make the best use of your time, keep it simple! The more elements that are involved in the design, the more difficult it will be to process and retain it effectively.

Author Antoine de Saint-Exupery said of designers that they know when they have “achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but there is nothing left to take away.”

“Keep the logo to a handful of elements, including shape, graphic, font, and color. Making sure that they make up a cohesive whole will help your prospective client to process the logo effectively, making it more likely that they will remember it,” Tarif said.

Resources for You

If you’re not a designer or don’t have the budget to hire one, there are many online services that you can use to start designing a simple logo for your business. Try these free tools:


Tip #2: Pay Attention to What Your Color Palette is Saying

Myriams-Fotos / Pixabay

There are articles, books, and entire college courses all dedicated to the psychology of color. There’s a reason for that: studies have found that color plays a big part in the reaction of a consumer to a logo, product, or the company itself.

This study by Satyendra Singh states, “People make up their minds within 90 seconds of their initial interactions with either people or products. About 62‐90 percent of the assessment is based on colors alone.” So with logos or with other pieces of business-related design, such as business cards and other marketing materials, “prudent use of colors can contribute not only to differentiating products from competitors, but also to influencing moods and feelings – positively or negatively – and therefore, to attitude towards certain products. “

Tarif explained further, “Colors can contribute greatly to how memorable your logo is. Keeping your palette in simple, bright colors — no more than two or three — can make your logo easier to process. While it can be tempting to opt for colors that are commonly used in your market, consider contrasting colors that make your logo stand out.”

Tip #3: Consider the Relationship of Shape & Space

GermanLopezR / Pixabay

Along the lines of not having too many elements, aim for your logo to be cohesive.

“It’s important for designers to pay attention to the lines of the logo. Not only the outlines of the basic shape, but the font choice, the thickness of the lines, and how well all the elements play together,” Tarif explained the process designers go through, “Individual shapes, like color psychology, can inherently communicate certain messages to the viewer. The shape tags an association already held in the mind of the viewer, building on that link.”

Circles and ovals, for instance, are popular choices for logo shapes due to the absence of points and corners. It gives the logo a finished, slightly more informal feel, as well as typically communicating security and warmth.

Squares and rectangles communicate stability and trustworthiness, and are usually seen as more formal. They also signify strength and boldness.

Triangles are less commonly used as an overall shape for the logo, but can be seen more often employed within the design of the logo, such as giving direction (like an arrow) or replacing certain letters, like A or V.

It is also worth consider the amount of white space not just in your logo, but in any other branding or marketing collateral.

Tip #4: Choose a Unique Design

geralt / Pixabay

This seems like a no-brainer, but it can be very tempting to opt for a design that is heavily inspired by other, more famous logos that already have a presence in the market. While it’s true that echoing an existing design may help your audience to remember your logo, you can put your company into a not-so-desirable situation if they’re too similar.

“Creating a memorable piece of design, is all about walking a fine line between the familiar and the unique. If you’ve opted for a familiar element, take a look at ways that you can make it your own,” Tarif suggested, “Altering colors, hand-drawing elements, choosing a unique font, and having a bespoke graphic made specifically for you are all ways that you can make your logo both unique and memorable.

Tip #5: Know Your Message, Know Your Audience

geralt / Pixabay

Creating memorable design pieces that actually stick with a viewer or a consumer requires that you be intimately aware of who, exactly, you are designing for. When it comes to a small business logo, that means extensive research on the clientele to whom you want to appeal.

“Any given business will be geared towards a certain subset of people, your audience of viewers. Business research typically includes finding the need or wants of the clients, developing the best way to provide it to them, and then orchestrating a marketing campaign in order to let them know about it and drive them to become consumers. Conversion doesn’t happen all at once, but your logo can be the first step,” said Tarif.

Market research is always recommended for potential businesses of any size. Thorough research will tell you not only what the client wants and what they expect, but how they might react to how a business is presented. Things like the psychology of color and shape, as mentioned above, are all built on research such as this.

For anything that includes design, knowing what you want to communicate to your audience is vital. And knowing how to do so effectively is just as important.

“It’s likely that you may need to develop multiple variations of your logo, seeking feedback and adjusting accordingly,” suggests Tarif, “But with careful and thorough market research and application of these five tips, your finished logo design can be truly memorable, attracting viewers and creating clients.”

Resources for You

Here are a few free research tools you can use to get insights about your audience:

We hope these design element tips will help you to grow and elevate your branding in the marketplace!