In short, the answer is no.
A logo is an essential part of an accounting firm’s brand. Not only will it grab the attention of new customers and stick in their mind but it will also represent your values and personality.
Because logos are so central to your and your practice’s identity, and carry so much weight, it can be tempting to cram too many elements into that small space.
For example, people sometimes want to include a long strapline as part of the logo, even though it won’t be readable at smaller sizes. On other occasions, it’s a complex and detailed illustration, or even a photograph.
One particular issue that’s come up recently is clients wanting to include the word ‘Limited’ or the abbreviation ‘Ltd.’ in their logo.
It’s understandable. This is part of the firm’s registered company name and clients are sometimes under the impression that including it in the logo is a legal requirement.
Tradition and habit sometimes play a part – it might have been included on the letterhead and signage for years.
And, for some, it adds respectability and authority – they want people to know they’re a serious business.
More often than not, though, it’s simply a case of “everyone else is doing it”.
The fact is, you don’t need to incorporate ‘Ltd.’ in your logo and probably shouldn’t even if you want to. Here’s why.
When must I use Ltd.?
‘Ltd.’ is short for ‘limited’ and indicates that a business is a limited company, a limited company being a legal entity that is entirely separate to the owner(s).
When it comes to legal documents, then yes, your lawyer is correct to advise that you need to add ‘Ltd.’ when writing out your firm’s name.
But your legal name doesn’t have to be the same as your stage name.
Let’s take actor Kiefer Sutherland, frontman of the hit series 24. His legal name is Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland. Quite a mouthful, cumbersome and according to Sutherland, too long to fit on his green card when he became an American citizen.
It’s also on his birth certificate and British passport (he was born in London) but it’s not how people address him or how they remember him, and it’s certainly not how he signs autographs, or how his name appears on movie billboards.
Now, let’s look at a limited company that we’ll call PristineAccounting. In a blog, we’d call it PristineAccounting. On social media, you’d see it as @PristineAccounting. You might even recommend PristineAccounting to a friend.
But you wouldn’t say “Have you heard of PristineAccounting Ltd?”, even if that was technically the firm’s true name.
But the business would be listed as PristineAccounting Ltd. at the Companies House and on all official documentation.
So hopefully we’ve cleared up why you don’t have to use ‘Ltd.’ in your logo. But you might still want to.
Still, we would maintain our message – don’t! But this time from a design point of view rather than a marketing one.
The key to a good logo is balancing individuality and simplicity. You don’t want something plain and boring but you also want to avoid anything overly complicated.
As such, logo designers often think about how a logo will look from far away, or in its smallest form – on a business card, say – and need to use all the space effectively.
Including ‘Ltd.’ is a sure way to simply clutter the design.
Let’s think of some of the iconic brands out there. Starbucks, Pepsi, Amazon, Google, Apple: none of them have ‘Ltd.’ in their logo, contributing to a chic and modern design.
Fighting the myth
We mentioned some myths earlier on in this post, namely “our lawyer said we have to do it” and “it makes us look like a real company”, and we should expand on that to wrap up.
First, if your lawyer has said that, they’re wrong for reasons we’ve already touched on – but why are they saying that?
Well, if you take a look at some of the logos for legal firms, you might understand why lawyers push other companies to put “Ltd.” in their logo, given that they’ve been some of the last to embrace the new common practice for logo design.
They tend to be ‘old skool’ and to err on the side of caution. They don’t particularly care how it looks as a piece of design – as far as they’re concerned, it might as well be there as not.
And to be frank, if you feel so pressured to go against our advice and still want to include ‘Ltd.’ in your design for no reason other than “looking like a real business”, there might be better solutions to your problem.
A strong marketing strategy and improved online presence, perhaps?