Your logo is to your business as the cover is to a good book, unless it is captivating and sets you apart in your market then know one will know what’s “inside”. It is at the core of your corporate identity. Most everything that your business does to advertise itself includes your company’s logo. Potential customers will preconceive how successful your business is by your company’s outward appearance. A good logo will build loyalty with your customers and will convey an established company to prospective customers.
Types of Logos
When talking about logos there are three types of classification a logo can fall into. I will refer to these as text treatment, representational, and abstract logos. A text treatment logo is simply what it implies; it is the company name done in a specific font. Sometimes a custom designed font or modified in such a way that it makes it unique. An example of this type of logo would be Coca-Cola.
The next two types of logos, representational and abstract, included a graphic element often referred to as the logo mark. The logo mark is usually accompanied by logo type. The logo type is often similar to the text treatment logo listed above. In the representational logo type the logo mark is often symbolic in nature of what your company’s services are. For example, a local tailor may have a logo mark which consists of a needle and a roll of thread. This is often times very effective in conveying to customers what you do.
Of course, this works great if your business is highly specialized. If your company has broader services (or plans to eventually offer more services) a representational logo may not be the best choice. You don’t want a logo that is going to necessarily make prospects think that is all your company has to offer. Likewise, your services may not be easily depicted to the general public in a representational logo. In these cases and abstract logo mark is likely a better choice. This is where the logo mark does not say anything specific about your services, rather it is a shape or abstraction of something realistic that will become uniquely identifiable to your company. An example of an abstract logo is CBS. The “eye” does not directly imply television, but rather implies observation of television. Because of the common knowledge of what CBS is, we understand this meaning.
On the down side, this type of logo is harder to gain customer loyalty and and knowledge of your services to an outsider without regular supplemental advertising and this could take years for the average audience to absorb, which could become very costly.
Targeting your Audience
As a business owner, it is important to know what type of customer demographic you are going after. Is it the young crowd or a more mature audience? How do you want your targeted audience to perceive your business? Should you go for a contemporary or edgy appearance? A good way to do this is to look at the logos of other businesses in your industry. Do your competitors use solid, conservative images, or flashy graphics and type? Think about how you want to differentiate your logo from those of your competition. Focus on your message. Decide what you want to communicate about your company. Does it have a distinct personality, serious or lighthearted? What makes it unique in relation to your competition? What’s the nature of your current target audience? These elements should play an important role in the overall design or redesign. Here are some general guidelines to follow:
- Make it clean and functional. You logo should work at any scale. It needs to work well on small marketing material such as your business cards and in large scale such as on signs and vehicle graphics.
- Avoid the use of photographs in your logo. They may become indistinguishable when enlarge or reduced and they will not fax well. Additionally by using photographs, you may limit yourself to using more expensive reproduction techniques, which can cripple your advertising budget.
- Always consider having a black & white version of your logo. It will fax much better and you will need it for black and white ads, such as in the phone book. It is often a good idea to design your logo in black and white first, then add the color later.
- Use your logo to illustrate your business’s key benefit. The best logos make an immediate statement with a icon or illustration, not words.
- Don’t use clip art. Clip art can be copied too easily. Not only will original art make a more impressive statement about your company, but it will set your business apart from others.
- If you’re redesigning your old logo, you run the risk of confusing customersâEUR”or worse, alienating them. Make gradual changes, but keep your logo similar to your old one so your customer can easily recognize you.
Choosing Your Colors Wisely
An important thing to consider in your logo design is how many colors your logo contains. A good rule of thumb is 2-3 colors in a logo. If you have more colors it may not be able to be reproduced in certain medium due to production limitations or not without a great cost increase. Also it is a good idea to have variations of your logo, such as a completely black and white version for checks and fax documents. If you have and idea of color(s) you would like to include, convey that to your designer and they will help decide how to utilize it and even complement it with other colors.
Consult The Pros
While brainstorming and coming up with ideas for your company’s logo is a good idea, trying to design the logo on your own is not advisable. It is your business and rightfully so you should include your input in the design process; However, professional designers will consider things that you may not such as how the logo will reproduce in various mediums, how it looks at various scales, readability, etc. While the cost of paying to have your logo professionally designed might seem avoidable, consider the logo will serve your business for many years and that should help to defer any cost concerns if you spread it out over say 10 years. Also consider the return on investment. A company without a logo is much more likely to struggle than a company that puts forth the effort to visually let it’s customer know it is established. When dealing with a professional designer there are some things to keep in mind, mainly for your own sanity. Allow plenty of time for the design process of your logo. The logo design process is an evolutionary process. Think of your logo as being born and growing to maturity. You and the designer are like parents influencing and molding the logo through its “growth process”. Usually you may get a couple initial rough concepts. Then you will work with the designer to hone your logo until it is completed. It is not fair to you and the designer to rush the logo design process. If you try to get a quick logo, it may not evolve into as good of a logo as you had hoped. There is nothing wrong with “sleeping on it”. If you need to take a break and come back and look at the logo concepts after a couple days, you will likely see things that you didn’t notice before. During the entire design process keep and open mind and be prepared to negotiate on your design ideas. While you should have a say in the design direction of your logo, be opened to changes or variations that the designer may suggest. They are not trying to be critical, but rather trying to offer the best solution for a successful logo. After all, this is why you hired a professional designer.
Protecting Your Business Identity
Once you have taken the time, and spent the money, to create a logo that embodies your company, it is a prudent idea to protect the rights to your logo by register your logo as a trademark. You can do this by visiting the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website at www.uspto.gov.