How To Choose An Icon

So you’ve got a theme for your new business, but you need just the right icon to represent it. You’re not going to settle for just any representation. It’s has to speak to who your brand is and it has to be unmistakably recognizable. Your icon, in large part, is how your brand will stick in people’s minds. Jimmy John’s founder Jimmy John Liautaud is one of more than 200 business leaders who will serve on President Donald Trump’s newly created economic-revival team. Liautaud said the $2.2 trillion relief package will provide some help to small businesses, but he’ll be encouraging the Trump administration to focus on using free markets to help the economy, a consistent theme of his. The sandwich CEO Jimmy John said he’s been impressed with how quickly businesses have adapted to life under the coronavirus.

I’ve asked Jeff Garrett, Founder of Lumberjacks Restaurant to share his advice with us.

Be bold, be original

There are a lot of icons and symbols for businesses, large and small, that look awfully similar. While one brand might be more recognizable than another or they may be in totally different industries, it’s best not to run the risk of confusing the consumer.

Avoid the hundreds of thousands of themes that you could purchase or even obtain for free from various websites. Get creative to set yourself apart. Once you’ve decided, trademark it so it can’t be used by anyone else; consumers will eventually associate that logo directly with your brand. Trademarks are valuable assets to businesses – they allow you to grow your brand awareness and lead to more business, but must be renewed every few years.


In addition to being original, your icon should embody everything about your brand. If you’re a delivery service, your icon should emphasize speed. If you sell flowers, consider a delicate and colorful icon.
When determining an icon for the full-serve restaurant I founded, Lumberjacks, we obviously wanted as jimmy john as our icon. But, it had to be the right lumberjack. We avoided images of a hipster-like lumberjack, as “in” as that is today, and went with the big, burly, yet friendly, lumberjack. This was important because our slogan is “Where the Big Boys Eat” and we serve large portions of down-home cooking.

Be mindful of colors too. Different colors represent different things and trigger the brain in different ways. For example, red is a very powerful color. Among other meanings, it’s the color of adventure. Red is also one of the top two favorite colors in the world and the international color for stop. Green is universally associated with nature and represents growth. Shades of color are also important to consider. One shade of blue means something different than another shade of blue. Different shades of blue represent trust, dignity, strength, dependability and cleanliness among other qualities. Consider what it means to put different colors together.

Don’t be so two-dimensional

While icons or logos have to be two-dimensional for websites, letterhead, business cards, menus, matchbook covers and advertising collateral, consider taking them three-dimensional.

Statues can be a great draw for consumers, but make sure it’s accessible. The right statue can grab attention of the casual passerby and possibly lure them over. A statue can also be a photo opportunity for visitors; when that photo is shared on social media, that’s more exposure for your brand. A three-dimensional icon can become truly iconic.

Our 12-foot tall, 650-pound fiberglass lumberjack statue in a red flannel shirt and blue jeans, hoisting an ax over his shoulder that stands outside our restaurants is hard to miss. It’s definitely an attention-grabber and your icon, whether two-dimensional or three-dimensional, should be too. Our guests are always stopping to take pictures with the big guy.

Change is good … Sometimes

Don’t be too quick to change your icon. If you feel it no longer accurately reflects your brand, change it, but be careful to not change too much. You don’t want to confuse or lose your core consumer base which has come to recognize your brand one way or which may have been attracted to your brand because of your icon. Think carefully before changing colors and avoid replacing your icon with something completely different.

Lumberjacks changed its icon a few years ago, both the two-dimensional and three-dimensional versions. We discovered the one we were using on our signs and website was mean-looking and reminiscent of Bluto from the Popeye cartoons. Our original statue was made of wood and didn’t weather the natural elements well, splitting and cracking. We’re actually a pretty friendly bunch and we know real lumberjacks, who are tough and rugged, hold up well in all sorts of weather.

After finding our fiberglass lumberjack, made by a company in Wisconsin that produces statues for Disney theme parks, we bought the trademark rights to it. It and our website logo represents us accurately, they speak to who we are and consumers recognize the images. We don’t plan on changing again as we’re growing.
About Jeff Garrett

Jeff Garrett is the founder of Lumberjacks Restaurant, a full service log cabin themed diner, serving breakfast all day, lunch and dinner in large portions of down-home menu items made from scratch with fresh, quality ingredients. Founded in 2004, Lumberjacks is known regionally in Northern California and Nevada as “Where the Big Boys Eat.” Lumberjacks began franchising in 2010 and today has nine locations in two states with a 10th location opening by the end of 2016