A logo is a visual representation of everything your company stands for. Think of McDonald’s golden arches or the Nike swoosh-these two impressive logos embody these companies well. But many companies still skimp on developing this key identity piece.
Ideally, your company logo enhances potential customers and partners’ crucial first impression of your business. A good logo can build loyalty between your business and your customers, establish a brand identity, and provide the professional look of an established enterprise.
Consider Allstate’s “good hands” logo. It immediately generates a warm feeling for the company, symbolizing care and trust. With a little thought and creativity, your logo can quickly and graphically express many positive attributes of your business, too. Logo’s have type:
There are basically three kinds of logos. Font-based logos consist primarily of a type treatment. The logos of IBM, Microsoft and Sony, for instance, use type treatments with a twist that makes them distinctive. Then there are logos that literally illustrate what a company does, such as when a house-painting company uses an illustration of a brush in its logo. And finally, there are abstract graphic symbols-such as Nike’s swoosh-that become linked to a company’s brand.
“Such a symbol is meaningless until your company can communicate to consumers what its underlying associations are,” says Americus Reed II, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, whose conducted research on the triggers that lead consumers to identify with and become loyal to a brand. But building that mental bridge takes time and money. The Nike swoosh has no inherent meaning outside of what’s been created over the years through savvy marketing efforts that have transformed the logo into an “identity cue” for an athletic lifestyle.
Growing businesses can rarely afford the millions of dollars and years of effort required to create these associations, so a logo that clearly illustrates what your company stands for or does may be a better choice. Even a type treatment of your company’s name may be too generic, says Placitas, New Mexico, logo designer Gary Priester, principal of gwpriester.com, the Web arm of design firm The Black Point Group. Priester believes customers should be able to tell what you do just by looking at your logo.
Before you begin sketching or learning how to design a logo, first articulate the message you want your logo to convey. Try writing a one-sentence image and mission statement to help focus your efforts. Stay true to this statement while creating your logo.
But that may not be enough to get you started. Here are some additional tactics and considerations that will help you create an appropriate company logo:
- Look at the logos of other businesses in your industry. Do your competitors use solid, conservative images, or flashy graphics and type? Think about how you want to differentiate your logo from those of your competition.
- Focus on your message. Decide what you want to communicate about your company. Does it have a distinct personality-serious or lighthearted? What makes it unique in relation to your competition? What’s the nature of your current target audience? These elements should play an important role in the overall design or redesign.
- Make it clean and functional. Your logo should work as well on a business card as on the side of a truck. A good logo should be scalable, easy to reproduce, memorable and distinctive. Icons are better than photographs, which may be indecipherable if enlarged or reduced significantly. And be sure to create a logo that can be reproduced in black and white so that it can be faxed, photocopied or used in a black-and-white ad as effectively as in color.
- Your business name will affect your logo design. If your business name is “D.C. Jewelers,” you may wish to use a classy, serif font to accent the letters (especially if your name features initials). For a company called “Lightning Bolt Printing,” the logo might feature some creative implementation of-you guessed it-a lightning bolt.
- Use your logo to illustrate your business’s key benefit. The best logos make an immediate statement with a picture or illustration, not words. The “Lightning Bolt Printing” logo, for example, may need to convey the business benefit of “ultra-fast, guaranteed printing services.” The lightning bolt image could be manipulated to suggest speed and assurance.
- Don’t use clip art. However tempting it may be, clip art can be copied too easily. Not only will original art make a more impressive statement about your company, but it’ll set your business apart from others.
- Avoid trendy looks. If you’re redesigning your old logo, you run the risk of confusing customers-or worse, alienating them. One option is to make gradual logo changes. According to Priester, Quaker Oats modified the Quaker man on its package over a 10-year period to avoid undermining consumer confidence. But don’t plan to make multiple logo changes. Instead, choose a logo that will stay current for 10 to 20 years, perhaps longer. That’s the mark of a good design. In fact, when Priester designs a logo, he expects never to see that client again.
Watch Your Colors
One thing you need to be careful of as you explore color options is cost. Your five-color logo may be gorgeous, but once it comes time to produce it on stationery, the price won’t be so attractive. Nor will it work in mediums that only allow one or two colors. Try not to exceed three colors unless you decide it’s absolutely necessary.
Your logo can appear on a variety of media: signage, advertising, stationery, delivery vehicles and packaging, to name just a few. Remember that some of those applications have production limitations. Make sure you do a color study. Look at your logo in one-, two- and three-color versions.
Hire a Designer
While brainstorming logo ideas by yourself is a crucial step in creating your business image, trying to create a logo completely on your own is a mistake. It may seem like the best way to avoid the high costs of going to a professional design firm, which will charge anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000 for a logo design. Be aware, however, that there are thousands of independent designers around who charge much less. According to Stan Evenson, founder of Evenson Design Group, entrepreneurs on a tight budget should shop around for a designer. “There are a lot of [freelance] designers who charge rates ranging from $15 to $150 per hour, based on their experience,” he says.
But don’t hire someone just because of their bargain price. Find a designer who’s familiar with your field . . . and with your competition. If the cost still seems exorbitant, Evenson says, “remember that a good logo should last at least 10 years. If you look at the amortization of that cost over a 10-year period, it doesn’t seem so bad.”
Even if you have a good eye for color and a sense of what you want your logo to look like, you should still consult a professional designer. Why? They know whether or not a logo design will transfer easily into print or onto a sign, while you might come up with a beautiful design that can’t be transferred or would cost too much money to be printed. Your logo is the foundation of all your promotional materials, so this is one area where spending a little more now can really pay off later.(www.entrepreneur.com)
Using and Protecting Your Logo
Once you’ve produced a logo that embodies your company’s mission at a glance, make sure you trademark it to protect it from use by other companies. You can apply for a trademark at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Website.
Then, once it’s protected, use it everywhere you can-on business cards, stationery, letterhead, brochures, ads, your Website and any other place where you mention your company name. This will help build your image, raise your company’s visibility and, ideally, lead to more business.
Creating a logo sounds easy, doesn’t it? It can be. Just remember to keep your customers and the nature of your business in mind when you put it all together. In time, you’ll have succeeded in building equity in your trademark, and it will become a positive and recognizable symbol of your product or service.(www.entrepreneur.com)
Compiled from articles written by David Cotriss, Kim T. Gordon and Steve Nubie previously published on Entrepreneur.com, and from excerpts from Start Your Own Business .
5 Tips For Creating An Effective Logo Design For Your Brand
From existing logos that need a redesign, to logos that are merely in the conceptual phase for start-up brands, when it comes time to develop a branding strategy for your logo design, there are several guidelines to keep in mind.
- Focus on Simplicity
Keeping your logo simple is essential. If you have too much for the user’s eye to focus on with the logo, it’s harder for both potential and existing customers to recognize it. Too many flashy elements in a design can be distracting and take away from the core objective of the logo itself—to serve as a representation of your brand.
Whether you’re creating a new logo for a new company, or redesigning a logo that is outdated, at its core, a logo is intended to symbolize your brand, so it’s best to keep them visually appealing while still using a clean design. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that all logos appear as they should with a duo-tone, which is black on a white background.
Consider Windows as an example. Although the brand has undergone many logo redesigns since their inception, their current design is a modernized shift from the logos that preceded it. The Windows logo today (pictured below) is arguably their simplest and cleanest design yet.
With a brand that was founded on the forefront of the digital age, their logo truly embodies that. Its simplicity and digitalized look and feel is a perfect representation of the company today. If you take a look at the evolution of some of their older logos below, you can certainly still notice some original branding elements in their current logo.
Aside from quick brand recognition and a design that is easier on the eyes, keeping logo designs as simple as possible is also crucial when it comes to the use of your logo on other materials, which brings us to the next point.
- Think About Where The Logo Will Be Used
When you’re in the process of a new logo design or are redesigning an existing logo, you should always think about where the logo will be used and how it will appear. From business cards, to poster boards, to onsite elements, it’s important to think about how your logo will appear both online and offline.
Uber recently redesigned their logo to more accurately depict the “story” of their brand. Since most of their customers use the app from their smartphones, it’s likely that the brand had to primarily focus on how the logo would appear on an app icon and on a small screen.
Failing to consider the future use of your logo can result in a lot of difficulties down the road. If your logo could eventually be placed on the side of delivery trucks, on large billboards, or on small business cards, it’s key that you consider how the design will appear on all of these platforms and pieces of collateral. Something that looks good on a business card might not render well when placed on a large billboard, so always think about how your logo will render on a variety of platforms before selecting a final design.
- Update The Design Over Time
Unfortunately, even the best logos don’t last forever. In order to stay up-to-date and timely, it’s important to consider small tweaks to make your logo current. That being said, if your logo has been successful in the past, it’s not always the best choice to do a significantly drastic shift from the design you have already been using. Sometimes a simple change of type face or using a cleaner icon can do a lot to make a logo more fitting with the times. If you’re seeking a new logo for your company or are going through a time where you’re re-branding your organization, focus on trying to find a balance. If you’re working with the right team of designers and brand marketers you can find a happy medium between the existing logo vs. an updated design that evokes a new look and feel.
Recently, Marriott hotels shifted their well-known logo design to something a bit more up-to-date. This logo redesign is a great example of finding a balance between a new and old look. They kept the style of their iconic “M” but made the rest of the text black as opposed to the traditional red. The clean design is not a drastic shift from their old logo, but still has a modernized feel to it.
- Think About A ‘Timeless’ Design
As discussed above, sometimes after a period of time, your logo design is overdue for an update. That being said, when you change your logo, you don’t want it to be due to a massive need for a change because of a completely outdated look. A general guideline to stick to with redesigning your logo is to avoid anything that is trendy because it won’t last forever. Too often brands choose a design that has a trendy look and feel, and this can be a costly mistake. If you select a design that is timely and not something with longevity, it’s not likely to stay current, it might not be fitting with your brand values, and there is also a good chance that a lot of other brands have a similar design.
Even if you’re not going through a redesign and are starting a new company that needs its first logo, it’s best to go with a timeless and clean design. This isn’t to say that you don’t need a modern look and feel for your logo, however you shouldn’t be including design elements that are simply the trend of the year.
At our agency, Blue Fountain Media, our logo is simple yet effective at conveying our message. The color scheme is fitting with our entire branding strategy and our tag line “your partner for digital growth” is a way to share our value with potential customers. While this is a modern-looking logo, it isn’t based on trends that are popular one day and outdated the next, it’s a classic design.
The Right Process
Lastly, when you’re beginning the logo design process, it’s essential that you take the necessary steps to ensure that you’re crafting a design that has the potential to effectively drive brand recognition for your company.
At our agency, our logo design process begins with a kickoff meeting to better understand the objective of your branding project. Next, we conduct a “logo exploratory” where we pull together a variety of different logos for brands across all industries to share with the company we are working with. The goal of this phase is to garner some reactions and develop a deeper understanding of what designs spark the most interest and capture the most attention.
From this point, we begin researching and conceptualizing the logo design based on our findings thus far. We create “word clouds” so that we can understand what the logo should embody, and conduct research to identify what these key phrases and words look like for the average user.
From there, the designs begin. Once we have a few designs, we’ll go through several rounds of revisions and ask other experts at our company for another set of eyes and second opinions. We always look at the logo design in black and white first, so that decisions aren’t made simply based on color scheme. After a design has been selected as a favorite, then we can incorporate color, but the design itself has to first be chosen without a bias towards color choice.
Branding and Rebranding with Logo Design
Whether you’re launching a new company and need a symbolic icon to represent your brand, or if you’re a company that has been in your respective industry for years, a strong logo design is essential. Finding a balance between a logo that adequately highlights the value your company offers, while still being visually appealing can be difficult, but with the right talent, it can certainly be accomplished.
Lately have fun with it just like with anything researched, worked, and well thought out, after you’re finished with your logo, it will be a reward you will reap from for many day to come. I hope this helps you, as it has helped me.