If you haven't started your business yet then I have caught you in time! However when it comes to a business logo, it is never too late to fix what might be a crucial mistake. Later in the post I'll give you the secret to an affordable logo, or a fix for your original one. Your logo itself isn't necessarily the mistake, it is not putting the necessary time, effort and thought into it that you should. You either are in the know and nodding your head along with me so far, or you think I'm crazy. It's just a little picture, right?
It's true, your logo isn't going to save you if you provide a crappy service or an inferior product. What nobody talks about, and no one tells you, is that a logo will only serve to enhance your visibility and brand recognition. This sounds amazing right? Well what if your brand reputation is a negative one? Yep, you guessed it, an awesome logo will only remind people how bad you are what you do. There is no getting around doing the work and be exceptional at whatever it is you're collecting money for. The coolest, most recognizable logo in the world won't sell something that no body wants to buy.
The good news is that it DOES work both ways
We have all heard of brand recognition. I am sure you can think of a bunch of company logos off the top of your head that you would recognize anywhere. Well that is certainly the goal you want to achieve with yours. Brand recognition goes deeper than just your logo (packaging, style of service, unique feature, etc.), but for our purposes here we will stay on topic.
This is where your logo becomes more than just a picture or design that you really like. In order to maximize it's value for your brand recognition, the logo has to be recognizable in multiple, different formats.
Stay with me here:
Assuming you find a design, or are able to figure out how to combine some designs that you really like, how do you know what formats and sizes will work with different platforms?
Sizes? What do you mean sizes? How do I change the dimensions of this file, and what size am I looking for?
The same JPEG file that worked on your business card and letterhead because you were able to match the background up with the color of the paper, now is not layering well with any sort of PNG content that you created for promotional material.
But now wait, why is it fuzzy on your business Facebook profile? And dang it, now the top is cut off!
These are just a couple of simple examples of things you will run into when designing your logo. And I will be perfectly honest with you, I bet you could figure out how to take care of these issues with a little time in front of Google, if you aren't already savvy enough to figure it out on your own. It does get even more complicated however, and don't you have a business to run? Do you have time to learn all of this? The long story short is that your logo needs to flow, and more importantly be recognizable, from big to small, paper to digital, and platform to platform.
Oh, and another thing about your brand recognition
Honestly there are dozens more things about your brand recognition, but here is another crucial factor for you to consider when it comes to your logo. Make sure it does not compete with other highly recognizable brands. Kimberlee Leonard writes in an article for smallbusiness.chron.com called Importance of Logos in Business (click on the title for the full article, or the logo below to go to McDonald's website):
"Your logo should be simple and should not compete with other company logos. You don't want to roll out an ad campaign with a big yellow "M" that consumers might possibly confuse with McDonald's"
This is actually extremely important for a couple of reasons. First off, you don't want people thinking about McDonald's every time they see your logo. The idea is to help your brand recognition and develop your own brand loyalty, not provide free marketing for another business. You definitely want to do some research regarding your competitors logos to get an idea what works, but avoid helping them out. Secondly, if your logo too closely resembles that of another established business there could be some legal ramifications. More than likely a company who has established their brand and has excellent recognition has trademarked their logo. This is something that you will want to consider doing as well. You will see here shortly that when it comes to logos, you generally get what you pay for, and it is important to protect that investment. Plus it goes without saying that when you have your own business it is wise to stay away from most things pertaining to the phrase "legal ramifications".
What does your business do?
Your logo needs to be relevant. Seems obvious right? You'd be surprised how many companies have logos that are just some random shape or picture that the owner liked or found on a whim. You will actually find some very successful companies that have done this before, however they succeeded in creating brand recognition and loyalty despite a meaningless logo, not because of it. You already have enough obstacles in front of you, don't create more. There is more to this than meets the eye as well, and I have picked a few types of businesses to explain.
This seems like an easy one. Just put a picture of the type of food you serve. Honestly that is not a bad idea to build a logo around, but a quality food related logo will have more meaning to it than just that.
All of these logos represent food related companies. However their approaches are all different.
-- McDonald's logo is so recognizable by now it doesn't really matter what the golden arches symbolize. However in the 1960's they were to represent a giant "M". This obviously stuck in peoples minds and it worked. (Learn more about the history of McDonald's by clicking on the picture)
-- In the second example for a food company, it is a very simple logo template. But the one image that sits on top of the wording is a chef hat. What better way to promote quality food then to inspire the image of a quality chef.
-- Burger King is another giant with a logo that your brain most likely will quickly recognize. And not just because the name is right front and center. The color scheme, consistency, and shapes involved are branded into our minds. However take a look again! Did you even realize that the yellow shapes represent the top and bottom bun of a burger? (click on the logo for more)
-- The last example for Food is Love Caterers is really pretty brilliant. There are no symbols of actual food, but the "d" and "l" represent eating utensils, and the "is" is circled by a symbol of a plate in the middle of the utensils. The same way a table setting would look. This logo makes you think of eating without even reading the words. (Click on the logo to go to their awesome website)
This is a fun one. There are almost limitless ways to be creative when it comes to this type of business. I picked two examples, but while doing your research a simple Google search can provide you with almost limitless examples of clothing logos, and the stories behind them.
-- I chose these two examples because while they might not yet be as well known as some other clothing companies that come to mind, the symbolism is fantastic. The Mehka logo features a clothes hangar...... It's about as simple as it gets, but even if you have never heard of the business, you know right away that it must be a clothing company. The Travel Clothing Company is similar in it's symbolism and extremely simple as well. It has a little bit more to it, but there are two hangars that form an airplane flying over mountains. It is obvious that these are clothing companies, and their logos are simple and easy to remember. They definitely answer the question, "What does your business do"?
If you research construction company logos you can find a lot of fantastic graphics work, but about 90% have the same theme. Therefore I chose some templates of company logos instead of actual companies, except for one example of a real company that did it just slightly different.
-- The first three examples you see are templates, but they are examples of what most construction logos will portray. They are creative and work fine, however they all show a symbol of structure with their company name. The last example is is from Precision Construction and Maintenance (click on their logo to go to their Facebook page). You would think that it would be more popular to show tools in a logo for a construction company, but it's surprisingly not. If you put Precision's logo in a lineup with a bunch of other construction companies they would stand out. With the large "P" representing a screw and a wrench at the same time, they have found a small and subtle way to stand out a bit from the competition.
We could go on all day researching logos and the stories behind them. And while I actually enjoy doing that kind of research, this post would get really boring really fast for most. The takeaway from all of this is that an excellent logo will enhance whatever it is that your business does through brand
recognition. When you reach a point where you can take the words out of your logo and even people outside of your target market associate it with your brand, you have achieved a level of branding that most companies will not. Just make sure you are taking care of business and providing a quality product or service, or your amazing logo will be enhancing recognition of a broke company.
Finally, the good stuff!
Ultimately when it comes to a logo their are a million different ways to find yours. If you are skilled and knowledgeable enough to create one yourself that is awesome. If you have a huge budget for graphic design and want to pay a bunch of money to a corporation to create one for you, that is awesome too. The truth is that all of the options in between can be just as effective, as long as you have done your research and have come to at least a very good idea of what you want, and what will stand out to your target market. All of this can sound great, but now what should you do?
Creating your own logo is obviously the most cost effective option. Or is it? The two most valuable resources you have as a business owner are money and time. By choosing to make your own logo you will save money for sure, but it will take time away from taking care of actual business. This can also be risky because while you may really like your creation, you risk an inferior quality result for one of the most important parts of your companies brand.
So what should you pay for your logo and branding then? This video is one of the best I have found in explaining that answer. And the answer is not as cut and dry as you would like. (video from www.inkbotdesign.com)
More good news, there are a lot of options. However I doubt when you were in the planning stages of building your business you thought you would be spending this much time and energy on your logo.
In an article for Logo Joy called "How Much Does a Logo Cost in 2018" employee Kate breaks down five really good options for deciding what you should spend for this service. You can click on the article to read further, but since a common theme in my blog posts is to find the most cost effective way to do things without sacrificing quality, I'll break down the best option for a small business owner.
There are some amazing companies that have been doing branding graphic design for a long time. They have amazing portfolios. If you can afford them, and have a good idea of what you want, this is definitely a great way to go. If you watched the video or read Kate's article however, you know that this can cost you upwards of $5,000 to $10,000 or more. And as a small business owner, even if you can afford this, is it practical?
The SECRET you have been waiting for, and that larger logo design companies hope you don't learn, is right in the middle of creating your own design, and selling the farm to pay a large company to do it for you.
The reason a larger design firm who has been around a long time can charge the higher prices is simply because they have the tools to create quality, and the portfolio to back it up. There are plenty of NEWER freelancers or smaller businesses that have the same talent and the same tools. They are out there trying to build their portfolio, but haven't been around long enough, or been given enough opportunities to showcase their work. FIND one of these smaller businesses or freelancers and you will pay much less than what your logo is worth, and you will more than likely get the same quality as well. The bonus is you will probably be helping another up and coming entrepreneur build their own business as well.
When it comes to creating the logo for your small business make sure you give it the attention it deserves. Remember that if you want to sustain long term success and create long term brand loyalty your logo will enhance the recognition of your successful business. And definitely don't forget that if you are going to pay for your logo, whether it be because you aren't able to create one, or that you simply don't have the time, find a newer small business or freelancer who is looking to build their portfolio. It is true in logo making that "you get what you pay for", but this is one sure fire way to get the best value!
As Usual, thank you so much for taking the time to read this. It is humbling when someone takes their own time to read something that you create. I can only hope that you were able to learn something from this today. PLEASE Comment and Share this below.