GreatLogo_Body.jpgBy Cathie Ericson.


McDonald’s golden arches. Coca-Cola’s script. Nike’s swoosh. Each of these logos is synonymous with its company name, no other identifier needed. Says Laura Wallis, an online marketing consultant at “A logo is an extension of your branding, and as the key image of your business, it sets the tone for who you are as a company.” Here are five key elements a small business owners should consider when developing a logo:


1. Appropriate for your audience

You want your logo to speak to your target market, to let them know your company is for them, says Jessica Lyon, senior designer at Pivot Group, a full-service marketing and advertising agency in Portland, Ore. One exercise she recommends is attributing descriptive adjectives to your key audience and comparing them to the qualities of your logo. For example, a retailer primarily serving tween girls might say its target market is youthful, trendsetting, playful, creative and feminine. “If you compare those qualities to their logo, it would be fair to say they match up well,” says Lyon.


2. Thoughtful color choice

Limit the logo to three or fewer colors for design simplicity, Lyon suggests. Also, consider the associations behind color choices. “There are basic attributes we ascribe to most colors, and we’ve learned to make assumptions based on them,” says Lyon. For example, red is associated with passion and power, and blue with peace and loyalty. “It can be helpful to use those complex psychological associations to your advantage when choosing colors for your brand and logo,” she says. If your logo uses more than one hue, make sure they work well together.


GreatLogo_PQ.jpg3. Reproducible/functional

The logo should work well in color versions as well as black-and-white, and should be usable in any format and size. “With the advent of mobile, it's very important to test how a logo will look online in thumbnail size,” Wallis says, noting that logos are now consistently viewed at a much smaller size than when they were primarily used in print advertising or on signs.


4. Fresh

“Even well-designed logos can look out-of-date eventually,” Lyon says.  So although you may have a design you love, consider updating it occasionally to keep up with visual trends, without being so trendy that it quickly becomes obsolete. A great example of a recent logo refresh is Google, which updated its typeface and other elements.


5. Professionally designed

Feeling overwhelmed by the elements described above? Most small business owners quickly discover that professional design assistance can make all the difference. “We often work with clients who have tried to develop a logo too quickly and have moved forward with design work without fully considering their ideal audience and how they can differentiate their company in the marketplace,” Wallis says. “I see so many logos that have been designed by the brother of someone in the accounting department, and it usually doesn’t go well,” adds Lyon. “A professional can apply overall design principals and make sure the result is both functional and aesthetically pleasing,” she says.


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