Author Archives: LJ

About LJ

I'm a marketer and a small business owner. I love to write about branding, local businesses, small business marketing, and other insights.

Now That Sounds Like a Good Logo!

Medical practitioners often struggle to convey their expertise and  image effectively.  It’s doubly challenging when its a multi-syllable word (audiology) focused on a less than attractive body part (the ear). This post examines the how audiologists have overcome logo design issues more effectively than dentists, the subject of my last post.

graphic design of ear

Graphic ear symbol not instantly recognizable

While searching for an audiologist’s office recently, I was guided by this somewhat helpful sign. I say “somewhat” because it isn’t as immediately recognizable as a striped barber pole or a pharmacist’s Rx symbol. I’m sure a Rorschach test would yield lots of different answers: is it a sonogram of a fetus? Or perhaps a map of Pangaea? But after driving around lost for 10 minutes looking for an audiologist, it was enough to assure me I had finally found the place.

Waterford hearing center

Hearing Center logo isn’t easy on the eyes

But do you want to base your logo on the ear? It’s complex–so many working parts. And there isn’t an effective symbolic abstraction like the heart shape. In the logo on the right, they’ve tried. I think it’s attempting to show a hearing aid wrapped around the ear. Unfortunately, hearing aids are also hard to recognize.

Perhaps it’s time for a little abstraction. Instead of focusing on the ear, let’s focus on its function: helping us to hear sound. How about incorporating sound waves into the design? As you can see by the design from Estes Audiology, that provides for a simple, 1-color minimalist logo, that is easily reproduced.

Estes audiology logo

Hear life again

 I like the way the sound waves bounce off the curved round e and the s, like ripples in a pond.  Someone put some thought into this. So if sound waves are good, why not combine them with an ear to really hammer home the concept? That’s what Nilsson Audiology did. They’ve used a softer, non-traditional color palette with a nicely symbolic design. What’s really interesting is how the logo combines the sound and ear symbols to create a heart shape. Which approach do you like best, the simple or the hidden symbols?

audiology logo for hearing aid clinic

Sound waves plus ear make heart shape

But you aren’t stuck with just sound waves and ears. Aren’t there other symbols that convey hearing? For example, what are some of the sounds you listen for? What do you put up to your ear to hear? How about a sea shell?

audiology logo

Audiology-inspired jewelry logo

My absolute favorite audiology logo is this one from the Aud Bling. The sea shell is an easily recognizable symbol, and I love the color gradiation. There’s no question that your logo will pop when customers are looking for your location, or scanning for relevant business ads on a printed page. AuDBling is actually the symbol for a line of jewelry designed by an audiologist, Noel Crosby.

So like with dentists logos, the lesson learned is this: don’t focus on the body part. Abstract, and look for related, easily identifiable symbols. And of course, look for a more creative use of color.


Why Do Dentists Have Such Terrible Logos?

Anglelic tooth with toothbrush

Teeth really aren’t very cute

It hardly seems fair to be picking on dentists. After all, they are the people everyone wants to avoid. Despite the fact that I’d rather have a root canal than review some of these terrible dental logos, I feel as compelled to comment on them as I am to floss.  Your mother may have taught you that the human body is beautiful. I beg to differ. There is nothing beautiful about a single tooth as your logo. A smile is beautiful. A tooth? Not so much.

bad logo design for dentist

If one tooth is ugly, aren’t more even uglier?

So what are the common problems with dentist’s logos? Many try to turn an ugly tooth into a friendly tooth, perhaps so that kids will want to visit. Our smiling angle tooth (why not the tooth fairy?) is representative of this appalling trend. Frequently, the smiling tooth is accompanied by a toothbrush, since we won’t recognize the naked tooth.

If a single tooth is ugly, why not jazz up that border to create a fascinating pattern? I’m afraid that more of a bad thing doesn’t make it better.

dentists logo stock artwork

Stylized tooth is slight improvement

A trend that I do see with dentist’s logos is the attempt to create a highly stylized, artistic rendition of a tooth. Although I find these much more attractive than the friendly tooth logos or the realistic tooth logos, they can end up being an unrecognizable curve on some logo designs.

So what’s the solution? When in doubt, abstract. Don’t focus on the body part–focus on the function, which is smiling or eating.

Apple Orthodontix has nailed it with their use of an apple in their name and logo. People associate an apple with good health. And what better place to see the results of straight teeth than in an apple bite?

In my next post, we’ll review logos for audiologists, who are challenged working with a similarly ugly body part. We’ll see what they’ve done to improve on the dental logos.

What do you think? Are there any other types of businesses that are beset by tacky logos? Why do you think that is?

Orthodontist logo features Apple

Related Apple symbol works best

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