Smaller Logo, Higher Confidence?

(I originally posted this at Moonlight Creative Group, but I figured I’d stick it here too!)

“When I see a rich man driving a Hummer, I think: ‘small bird.’” – Anonymous

How many of us have had similar thoughts before? We think people have to compensate for something that lacks (whatever it is) by making themselves appear to be bigger than they are. Yeah, maybe that’s judgmental and inaccurate. That’s not the point. The point is, it doesn’t matter whether or not it’s true – what matters is how you appear to other people. The same goes for your company logo.

I work with the web, mainly focusing on sites and applications, so what follows relates to my experiences with all things online.

Make it smaller
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been asked to “make the logo bigger.” Each time, I sigh. And I don’t sigh because I dislike the logo, or the brand, or anything about the company I’m doing work for. I sigh because bigger logos often go against basic user-centered principles. People don’t come to your site to look in awe at your spiffy logo. Chances are they know who you are, or they’ve heard of you before, and they’re visiting your website to find out more about who you are and what you do. Their goal is to find information. And like you and I, these visitors have other things to do in their day, and would rather get in, get what they want, and get out, rather than sift through a horde of information to maybe find something useful.

A large logo isn’t always useful. A large logo doesn’t give your visitors any new information and doesn’t help them accomplish their tasks. What a larger logo does, however, at best is effectively shove all the useful stuff further down the page, making it more difficult for visitors, or at worst, distract them from their goals.

Just like with our quote from Anonymous above, the way we handle our logos goes a long way in how people view us. I recently came across the website for Boston University. The first thing I noticed was that the logo was at the bottom of the site. Bottom? That’s just mad! Why would anyone put their logo at the bottom of the site? Pfft, right?

But after thinking about it for a bit, I realized that this site exudes confidence. Boston University, a well-known and well-established educational institution, doesn’t need to remind people who they are. People know. People come to this site for information. Boston University doesn’t need to drive around in a big Hummer because they are a big Hummer. Taking the ego out of the equation leaves us with a beautiful site that’s perfectly user-centered. That is confidence, and your users will see it.

Crazy, right?

A good user experience
If your company is all about providing the best service to your users, patients, visitors, or employees, shouldn’t that message follow through to your website? Rather than focusing on the ego of the shareholders, stakeholders, or personal preferences, why not focus on those who will actually use your services – your users.

And if we wanted to get all capitalistic up in here, your users are your bottom dollar, so how much more should your site focus on them?

Your site should show off your confidence. The awesome, helpful, task-oriented content and useful, usable, quality services should carry your brand, but your brand should not carry your quality. Have confidence in your business. Focus on your users.

Make that logo smaller. Heck, why not go further and stick it at the bottom?