The Nike swoosh. The Twitter bluebird. The Starbucks green mermaid. We’re all familiar with these vivid logos. Now think of your logo. You have one, don’t you? A great logo can attract customers even before they know anything about you or your company. Read on to discover what to keep in mind when designing—or redesigning—your logo to carry your company’s image to the next level and beyond.
Know your overall brand personality
You think you know your company and your brand inside and out, but can you describe the feeling and personality you want to portray with your logo? Spend some time detailing your overall brand identity. “I'm often reminding business owners that their logo is only a small portion of their overall brand,” says Vicki James, small business marketing strategist at Stand Out Results. James works with clients for two months, developing an overall brand profile, including the core essence and the personality of their company long before heading to logo-designing stage. This time is vital to create a logo that will portray a company’s essence accurately.
Allan Branch, co-founder of LessAccounting, recently redesigned his company’s logo to be sure it was a good representation of his firm’s personality. “We're a boring accounting app, it's not sexy, no one likes accounting,” says Branch, “but we try our hardest to be friendly, fun, and the least boring we can be.” Branch worked with a designer to throw out any traditional accounting logo ideas. “Our new logo has nothing to do with accounting, no dollar signs, no calculator. In a digital world, we're trying our hardest to feel handcrafted and warm, friendly but not silly,” says Branch.
Answer the tough questions
After you have specified your brand personality (but before you call that graphic designer) determine what you want to do with your logo from a marketing standpoint. How will you reach your customers and look when compared with the competition? Mark Rushworth, head of search at Blue Logic, a digital design and marketing company based in the UK, reminds his clients to stay objective. “Remember, you’re designing your logo for your customers. Take your personal preference for fonts and colors out of the equation,” says Rushworth. He also asks clients to think about whether their logo will resemble their competitors or stand out. These are issues that Rushworth suggests business owners should address before talking with a designer.
Amy Burkert, founder and self-proclaimed “ring leader” of the pet travel website GoPetFriendly.com, thought about what her customers wanted and how to stand out from the crowd. “We have a unique logo—a cartoon dog holding a sign in his mouth that has our web address on it,” Burkert says. “The cute pup with his tail wagging makes you happy and gives the impression that this is a friendly, approachable company [which people want when they are thinking about vacations and their pets].” Burkert has used her flexible logo in a variety of ways for marketing purposes. “We can put him in sunglasses on the beach, show him with a packed suitcase, or give him a big smile with his tongue hanging out and people still recognize him as part of our brand,” she says.
As much as you would love for that five-color, detailed picture of your grandmother to be the face of your cookie company, it may not be the wisest choice. Angela Nielsen, president and creative director of One Lily Creative Agency, a full-service strategy and web design company, has developed over 500 logos in the last 13 years and knows what works and what doesn’t. “Consider all mediums the logo will be used in—web, print, marketing materials, promotional items, and so on,” suggests Nielsen. She advises business owners to choose logos with “no more than two or three colors,” which keeps printing costs down, an important factor for any business. “[Also], the logo needs to be scalable to large size (think billboards) or very small (think business cards),” says Nielsen. “The [best] logo is simple, professional, and memorable.”
Rushworth agrees. “Kill the tiny detail. Like faxes, websites are low resolution, so make sure your logo has bold detail,” Rushworth says, “The most basic, [black-and-white] representation of your logo should work equally as well as a high-resolution, color version.” Rushworth suggests thinking of all of ways the logo may be used—from the upper corner on a piece of paper to “the app icon version of your logo. It needs to work [in all formats].”
Get a professional’s help
Though you may be decent at Photoshop, your homemade logo isn’t going to cut it if you want to really stand out. “Your branding should be as brilliant as your business,” says Leslie Ann Akin, owner of Lake Oswego Graphics. “Everything matters. Interview and hire a competent designer to create branding that reflects your business in a style that is significant and meaningful.” Akin warns small businesses against ordering pre-made logo templates found online. “Who wants to do business with someone who has not branded their business with a distinctive style?” Akin asks. “You need to appear worthy of your competitor's clients.”
You can find a designer to fit your budget and timeline. “Young and just-out-of-art-school designers are a good choice—they’re up on all the latest software, know all the tricks, and rock at design,” says Akin, adding, however, that more experienced graphic artists “are often able to get through the process with a little more ease and probably faster.” No matter what designer you go with, Akin reminds small business owners to always be sure to check portfolios and references.
Lauree Ostrofsky, life coach at Simply Leap, LLC and recent author of I'm scared & doing it anyway, decided to work with a designer to redo her logo and had excellent results. “The movement of the dot above the ‘i’ has become a signature for me,” she says. “With a company name like Simply Leap, it often conjures up the image of a big bold jump. While that is an important element of my work, it truly is the series of small shifts you make in your life that lead to a leap.”