No, You Don’t Need a Logo. You Need a Story.
Stop it. Close Fiverr. Shut it down.
It’s tempting, I know. You have your business idea. You come up with the world’s cleverest name. And next thing you know, you’re browsing logo artists on Fiverr, deciding if you can push your budget just a litttttttle higher.
I’ve done it.
You’ve done it.
We’ve all done it.
Now, let’s get over it.
The truth is, your logo doesn’t matter—not yet, anyway. Not when you don’t have a client to look at your logo. Especially not when you don’t even have leads looking at your logo.
No, at this point what you need is a solid, powerful, compelling story.
So, get off Fiverr. Close the color swatch generator. And listen to why crafting your story is the strongest foundation you can possibly build for your new business.
1. Without a story, you’re like a plastic bag.
Your story—the unique narrative you tell about what you do and why you do it—is what distinguishes you from the thousands of other online business folks out there vying for your audience’s attention. Especially when your business is brand new and you don’t have a track record yet.
Think about it like this. Imagine you are a film student and, to pick up some extra cash, you want to coach people on how to create better YouTube content. BUT, you’ve never done this before, so you have no testimonials or direct experience.
Without a story, you’re just giving leads the “what.” You might say, “I’m a film student and I can help you make better videos. I can teach you about lighting, sound, editing, and how to choose good content.”
Did you hear that?
Instead, why not tell your lead the truth? Why not let them in on your “why”?
Here’s what that might look like:
“I’m a film student who has spent many hours in classes with top experts in their fields. My passion is film production, and I want to help content creators elevate their videos to reach a bigger audience. My goal is to grow alongside you by teaching you everything I know about lighting, sound, editing, and how to choose good content. In the end, I guarantee that you will have more views, more subscribers, and will be happier overall with the quality of your videos.”
Not bad. Not perfect, but definitely more compelling than a plastic bag. Would people take you up on it? If the price was right and the need was there, somebody would.
At this point, you may be wondering how I know. I know because, when I was a film student, I applied for an eff-ton of freelancing jobs while manning the door of my work-study.
In the beginning, I applied like a plastic bag—I told them (all serious-like) what I would do for them. I thought, the more serious the better. But nobody would take me up on anything.
Eventually, I got really pissed off and said, “eff it.” Instead, I wrote an honest letter that explained who I was, why I was doing this, what I hoped to get from it, and what I could help them achieve. And lo-and-behold, they bit.
2. Stories make you work work work work work.
But how often do we tell ourselves that same thing?
How often do you try and fail to make yourself eat healthier, go to the gym, call your mom, practice guitar, or whatever else you think you “should” be doing? I’m guessing a lot.
The reality is, even when it’s us telling it to ourselves, we hate hearing “because I said so.” We hate hearing, “because you should” or “because it’s good for you.” It’s not a good enough reason. It’s not motivating. It doesn’t inspire you to get off the couch and act.
When you’re building an online business, you’re going to have to do a lot of nitty-gritty crap you don’t want to do. You’re going to have days when you’re exhausted from your 9-to-5 and just want to crash and watch Scandal or play Pokémon Trading Card Game Online ( . . . just me?). But if you want to find success in this thing, you have to hustle.
Stories are there to light a fire under you, knock down writer’s block, sap out the laziness, and destroy any other obstacles that stand in your way of success.
When you have a story, you have a purpose. You know where you fit within the landscape of your life and what you want for yourself, and you know what chapter of your life’s narrative you’re roughly on.
Think about it like this. Say you need to write a blog post. So, you tell yourself, “I should write a blog post.” But then, the lazy, procrastinating half of your brain says, “Yeah, I shouldddd…but I also want to watch Scandal.” And that’s the end of that.
It’s a struggle—if not impossible—to motivate yourself to act when you don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing. But if you have a story to hold onto, you can make yourself endure nearly any struggle, pain, or trial.
Case in point? When John McCain was a POW, he was able to endure years of horrific living conditions and physical and psychological torture from his captives. Whereas other men (understandably) broke, he refused to give up information and refused to go home, even when the Vietnamese offered to send him back.
Because McCain’s narrative was that he was there for his men. He was there to serve his country. And in this story, he believed his role was to give the other men a strong role model to look to and derive strength from.
Obviously, this is an exceptional circumstance. But if John McCain could use story to withstand years of some of the most terrifying conditions imaginable, you can surely use story to motivate yourself to write a blog post. You just need a good enough reason.
With a story, you might tell yourself, “I’m going to have a successful coaching business that will pay my rent once I get out of school, and everybody is going to ask me how I did it. My clients are going to love me, and I’m going to provide a ton of value to them. I’m going to have the kind of business that creates awesome content every day, so I need to write this blog post.”
That’s a lot more motivating than, “because I said so.”
3. Stories will help you pick your stupid effing logo.
I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve browsed artists just imagining what different designers could create for me. And, yes, fine, one day you will need a logo.
And it will be glorious.
You will finally have total creative control and some cash to get an awesome artist to create something that looks effing sick on your business cards.
But here’s the deal. Without some sort of guidance or values system to rail you in, the process will be a total crapshoot mash-up of what art styles you happen to like this Tuesday: “I want something flat and minimalistic but also with a ton of detail and 3D. Something modern but classic and maybe add in a little dinosaur.”
Maybe you get lucky. Or maybe, a month from now, your excitement fades and you realize your logo isn’t as cool as you thought it was.
The thing is, when you’re building a business, you have to make a lot of decisions. You’ll have to choose between clients, if it’s time to scale up, who to hire, what platform to build your website on, what to specialize in, and what logo designer to go with on Fiverr.
But if you have no guide rails, no structure, no story to inform your decisions, each choice is a shot in the dark. You have no unifying principles, no rhyme or reason. Your project brief is just “make me something I like today.”
With a story, your brief starts to shape itself. You can tell the designer who the target audience is, what mood you want to convey, what sets you apart from your competitors, why you’re doing this in the first place, where you’re coming from and where you want to go. And a killer designer can make you something that plays off of all of that.
That’s how you get a logo that’s truly timeless and memorable. Not just clever or beautiful.
So, what’s your story? What puts fire in your business’ engine? What helps guide every single decision you make and keeps you grounded?
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