Logo creation or designing your brand mark is the most important (and fun) parts of building a brand. Your logo itself is not your brand, it’s the symbol for your brand, and the most important piece of your brand identity. It’s the “face” of your company – and provides essential information about your business allowing customers to identify with your brand. Your logo should appear on everything: stationery, website, business cards, products, advertising, and all other materials. For this reason, you need a well-designed logo that contributes to your business success. As important as it is – a lot of startup companies skimp on logo creation – choosing to revisit after the business is up and running. Avoid the trap – do as much as possible in the beginning (and then a little more). No matter how small your business is, or how new, you really need to take some time – and invest some money to get it right. Investing up front will pay off big time and maximize your brand equity.
What does it cost?
The first thing small business owners and startups have to deal with is budgets, and most have a hard time deciding how much they need to allocate to logo creation. Many opt to design on their own (I get it, and there’s advice and resources here to help, it that’s what you decide), but as a designer and a brand champion, I want to offer insight and prospective that will hopefully help you head down the right path for your business.
When small businesses pays $150, $500, $1000 or even more for their business identity, they are NOT getting the same work (nor should they expect the same) as someone who shelled out $50K. You can’t compare online logo design companies with their $300 logo design packages to $80k brand implementations from a big international brand consultant, it’s like comparing apples and oranges. Online logo design companies market their services to business owners as an expense, using a ‘cheaper is better’ approach. I know most small businesses are very concerned about budgets and cost (especially starting out) and it’s totally understandable, but I want to have you look at your logo not an expense – but an investment in your company’s future. Over the course of your company’s lifetime, you’re going to get a lot of mileage from your logo, so consider what you spend initially for its development. It’s totally up to you to decide how much that investment is worth – if your projecting sales for an at-home business are in the $10K per year range, does it make sense to drop a few grand on a logo – probably not. Are you aiming to drive sales north of $200k – then the investment makes more sense.
So, it’s difficult to put an actual dollar figure on the value of your logo creation (as opposed to the expense) but it can be substantial. An effective logo is a way that you can tell potential customers your story, (or more accurately, part of your story) – best to make it count. While it’s true that you can always pull off low cost logo work, maybe even some free stuff – it’s probably wise to think long and hard before doing so.
Before you start designing – articulate the message you want your logo to communicate. What makes your business unique compared to the competition? Who’s your target audience? All of these Big Brand Ideas are important in the logo creation process.
Tips to help with logo creation
Get inspired – look at other logos in your market space. Think about how you want to differentiate your logo from competitors.
Keep it clean & functional – your logo needs to work well on everything, from business cards to your website. It has to be scalable, easy to reproduce, memorable & make you stand out.
Think icon – they work much better than a photograph (which can be unidentifiable if enlarged or reduced). Also, make sure that the logo that can be reproduced in black & white – because you’ll run into situations where you’re limited to one color.
Illustrate your business’s key benefit – the best logos make an immediate statement with image, not words.
Avoid clip art – it makes you look cheap and not very serious about your business. Original art or “very good” stock art is a better way to set your business apart.
Avoid trendy – you want your logo to remain current for at least 10 years, that should be the goal. You don’t want to have to spend a bunch more time & money a few years later – and you’ll lose brand equity.
Your logo will appear on everything – website, signage, advertising, stationery – remember many of those applications have production limitations. Create some brand standards that show different versions of logos and applications, along with list of logo color specs for both print and digital. If you plan to use a tagline, you should show when, where, and how to lock down with logo.
Brainstorming logo ideas by yourself is an important step in logo creation & creating your business image, but trying to create a logo completely on your own might be a mistake. It can seem like a way to avoid cost and get it done more quickly, but might not be happy in the long run. Working with a professional designer doesn’t necessarily mean you”ll need to spend thousands. You can find a freelance designer that charges a few hundred. Stay away from super bargains like Fiverr (c’mon $5 for a logo, really!). Even if you have a good eye and a sense of what you want your logo to look like, you’ll probably need help getting it finalized. Professionals know how to handle logo creation that will work across all applications – and give you the brand advantage you’ll need.
5 options for logo creation:
- Go it alone – too many choose this route. There are sites like Logo Garden that claim they are free do-it-yourself online tool – sounds cool. You’ll find out later you need to pay extra for high res or vector art files that you’ll need, maybe $69 (still a cheap way to go). But be careful – most serve up clip art that isn’t very good and can present legal issues. If you want to design yourself, you really need access to Adobe Illustrator to do the job (and know how to run it).
- Online logo contest – dozens of designs from designers all around the world, and you pay the winner a reward (something like $300). The problem is – only the winning designer gets paid. As a “very good designer” I would not participate for a one in ten chance for $300 (it equates to $30 for effort). Bigger rewards get better designers – but mostly from inexperienced third world designers. I have friends that think this is a cool thing and they couldn’t be happier. If this approach sounds good to you and want to look into this path – check out 99designs or LogoTournament.
- Online Logo Design – most employ designers and assign to your project, some start with pencil concepts, from multiple designers, unlimited revisions, and money back guarantee. I think this is a much more ethical way of getting logo work done and only costs $149 from The Logo Company.
- Freelance logo designers – find someone local or nationally (via online meetings) that you can work with – they all have different rates, so you’ll have to shop, but as an example; I offered logo design as part of a package for $250 (4 concepts, 4 revisions, finished files, with a satisfaction guarantee) trying to be competitive with online logo companies. Most of my clients like a single source designer – who can handle all their creative needs.
- Brand Agencies – usually a small handful of highly specialized consultants & creatives that typically work just on brand identity. You will quickly spend thousands – when you get several people working on your brand and have lots of meetings. You can get incredible results if you have a really good budget – as a corporate Creative Director – I had several opportunities to work with some of the biggest branding agencies in the world, they know what there doing – but there’s no way most companies could afford them.
This is really important to your brand– try to work with a designer
Your logo is the foundation of your brand identity. This is one area where spending a little more time and money in the beginning can really pay off. A well-designed logo gives your business a professional look that will steer new customers your way. Invest some time (and a little money) to give your business the brand advantage it needs to be successful. Remember, your logo should last you 10 years. As a designer, I’ve seen the value of working with small businesses directly – getting an understanding of their challenges & opportunities firsthand. If you find a good designer – you can begin building a strong brand together.
There’s tons of resources around designing for your own logo, I would recommend Lynda.com as a great place to start. They have all kinds of videos that walk you through the process, and teaches how to develop and design a logo for your brand – even if you’ve never done it.