My daughter is starting a new business, so over the last couple of weeks I’ve thought a lot about what a new business involves. I’ve helped her set up an LLC and purchased a web domain, but at this point she is trying to decide on a look and feel for her site and hired a developer to create a logo.
When she told me I immediately started to give her advice and watched as her eyes quickly glazed over. Not everyone gets as excited about this stuff as me.
It got me thinking about the importance of a basic logo when starting a new company. Over the last 13 years I’ve started multiple companies for my boss and feel like we’ve made pretty much every mistake in the book when it comes to logos.
Before you even start to envision a logo you need to start with one simple question.
What Makes a Good Logo?
The best logos are ones that stick out in your mind because of their simplicity and timeless nature. They use impactful colors, but can look good in a variety of situations. Graphic Designer Jacob Cass argues that the best logos have 5 distinct qualities:
I love his list and highly recommend reading his article. One of the biggest mistakes we’ve made over the years is to over complicate our logos. They have too many colors, are too trendy or they don’t scale right for various social media and printing methods.
Determine How Your Logo Will Be Used
Your logo needs to work for social media, video and print. I know it is easy to ignore print ads now days, but you may still need to create business cards or letterhead. Just because you are starting out as a small company doesn’t mean you will stay that way.
You need a logo that will look good as a square or a rectangle. It needs to look good in color or black and white and must be readable from a distance. It needs to stand out against any background. I recommend having your designer include files with black, transparent and white backgrounds.
Richard Feloni from the Business Insider has an excellent article entitled “Experts Explains What Makes the Best Logos So Good.” The article shares some great information, but I recommend it because it shows a variety of before and after views of some very famous logos including Walmart, Starbucks and Ebay.
Rebranding a company’s logo is very time consuming and expensive. If you take the time to plan out your logo in advance hopefully you can avoid future rebranding.
Work With An Expert
This is a mistake I’ve made multiple times. In an effort to save money I tried designing a few of my own logos. They looked decent, but I didn’t know enough about vectors and layering to create scalable artwork. I remember sending a 72 KB design to a printer. He very politely explained sizing to me, but I can guarantee he got a good laugh out of my ignorance.
After this experience I submitted my basic logo to a designer who quickly created a masterpiece out of my pitiful attempts. All he did was smooth out the image and switch out some colors, but the affect on the overall image was incredible. I wish I still had the original images to share.
I have a few local designers that I use, but have also had good luck with 99Designs. 99Designs is an amazing resource for locating worldwide talent. You can create a project and receive artwork from multiple designers.
I love the creativity that comes from such a large freelance base of designers and have seen some amazing logos on their website.
Even though I strongly advocate keeping things simple a logo is also a reflection of you and your company. If you are a law firm or a doctors office you are probably stuck with a basic look. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t add your own personal flair.
Your logo will often be the first impression someone has of your business. It needs to reflect who you are and what your company stands for. Know who your audience is and create a logo that will attract their attention.
If you are dealing with kids, keep your logo bright and fun. If you are working in a professional environment use strong neutral colors that signify strength. If you are in an artsy field your logo should reflect your personality.
Think outside the box without over-complicating your look.
Some Final Hints
When creating your first logo take the time to get it right. Speak with a variety of designers and use one who understands your industry and vision. Have at least a general idea of what you want your final product to be.
Don’t rush into making a decision. Ask your designer to provide multiple looks based on your initial idea. Let your designer be creative. You’ve hired them for a reason, so let them do their job.
On the other hand, don’t be afraid to ask them to make changes. You are paying them for their time and want a product that you are 150% proud to share.
Your logo is going to be the face of your company. Narrow down your favorite designs and ask for opinions (this is something you can easily do through 99 designs). Don’t create your “look” in a bubble. Talk to other business owners and see what has worked for them.
Make sure you get your final product in a variety of file types. You never know when you are going to need a JPEG vs. a PNG. You may need a transparent version for one media outlet and a black background for another. Make sure the original files are created in vector for easy resizing. Most importantly always get the original CSV files.
This process should be exciting. You are starting a new company, this should be fun and exciting. If you start stressing about the decision, take a day off and come back to it with a fresh set of eyes.
Your logo is a key part of your business. It is the one thing that will always identify your company. If you take the time to choose the right logo it will only help your companies image.
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