The logo is a visual symbol of the brand personality and message. It is often the markets’ first impression of a business or product. If your’e designing a small business logo, here are a few tips to consider.
Missing the mark with brand imagery can be lethal to the growth of your brand. The goal of designing a small business logo is for it to stand out. To pop, it needs to be clever but also clear and designed for longevity. Various iterations may be needed to keep the logo from looking dated over the years and starting with a strong, evergreen style will help keep brand recognition consistent.
What comes first the logo or the brand?
In the case of this entry we’re covering logo concepts first however the two must work hand in hand (see corporate and small business branding in the next section). To create an effective logo, graphic designers or small business owners must have an idea what the logo will represent. Although brands take time to fully develop in the marketplace, initial planning can help target them appropriately. Understanding who your target market is and the interests and styles each particular demographic is attracted to will be the starting point. Adding meaning to your brand image will increase the aesthetic appeal.
Do you want a logo or a logotype for your business?
A logo has an image that is representative of the company or industry along with the font used for the company name. A logotype is just type. A logotype is often an original or hand lettered font set in a unique way. Coke-a-Cola is an example of a logotype. New businesses need one or the other. Only companies like Starbucks and Nike can get away with just an icon without their name. These brands have longevity and recognition in the marketplace. Millions of dollars have been spent on consistent marketing and advertising over the years that has made a clear distinction to the public and allow them to just use an image.
What are the next steps to designing a small business logo?
Search the internet for powerful, attractive, award winning, and stylish logo designs. If you have a particular style you are drawn to, search for those samples. Many logo designs and logotypes are copyrighted or trademarked. Your research is for inspiration not to plagiarize! Check the competition, check other brands and companies who are targeting the same audience. What design approaches are they using successfully? Think creatively to break away from the tried and true industry icons in the same style everyone else is using. Remember the goal is to stand out from the crowd.
What styles do you keep going back to? Are you attracted to formal styles, contemporary looks, strong or powerful imagery? Be sure to distinguish if you are gravitating toward a style that will represent your business best and not just one you personally like. Consider all the ways a logo will be used; on different colored backgrounds, in various sizes from billboards to web apps, icons, avatars and print, a company logo must be flexible in size and keep crisp clarity whether super sized or miniscule.
Remember to first keep it simple. Make sure the logo designs work in black and white. Logos are used on a variety of media, from tee-shirts to websites. Sometimes color is limited and achieving special effects in certain print processes won’t work. Add in color and or effects once you have a solid foundation.
When you are determining the colors to use for the logo consider the personality of the brand. Soft muted colors are usually used for services and products in a more reserved, compassionate setting and industry. Pulling off a pastel blue and pink color palette for an energy drink may seem incongruent. Think about how a color makes your feel, what reactions they inspire. What colors can be combined together that will compliment the brand personality? Red is a power color, blues are associated with professional, trustworthy messages. Take a look at the list of colors and the qualities associated in the Resources section in the back of this ebook.
What logo colors quickly identify the personality of your brand?
Just like colors, fonts have personalities too. Choosing a font that represents the personality of your brand sends a cohesive, unified message. Stay away from trendy fonts and fonts that are not easily legible. Look at the font from a distance, will it read well on a sign with drivers passing by at 70 miles per hour? Will it be legible when reduced to fit a business card or social media profile icon? What about style? Do you love the formality of a flowing calligraphy font? Does a thick graffiti style script font seem appropriate for your message? Can you find a way to customize or tweak a font to make it your own? Please keep in mind fonts can come with copyrights too!
What fonts or font styles do you think will work best for you logo?
Designing a symbol that will represent the brand can be the most challenging. If you have a product that can be illustrated cleanly and be quickly identified, give it a try. For abstract concepts such as insurance company logos or professional speaker logos understanding the brand personality can lead you in the right direction. An insurance company may want to present a solid, established, formal image. A solid rectangle with the initials of the firm reversed out of it to resemble traditional engraving could give the illusion of a century old firm. A professional speaker who offers a lot of humor could be represented with a cartoon or caricature. Another professional speaker logo for a speaker with an energetic, motivational style may use abstract graphics that depict movement and energy.
Other times there is a symbol that the company founder relates to that can be tied into the brand messaging, a sun for a professional life coach could symbolize their desire to enlighten their clients. What symbols resonate with you and your company message?
There are plenty of resources online to order inexpensive logos or even build your own from a catalog of standard clip art. Keep in mind some of these DIY logo design websites only allow you to create one format and size. The format may work for your web marketing but they are not high resolution logos for reproducing professionally in print. In addition you will usually be limited to stock images that others have used and your logo will not be unique in the marketplace. This may present challenges for trademarking if you choose to protect the symbol later.
When you have a few logo concepts in place be sure to show the ideas to others. Get feedback and try not to share which is your favorite. Don’t risk ‘tipping the scales’. We also recommend showing the logo to people who may not be aware of what your business is. This is a great opportunity to see how clearly your logo concept is communicating the correct message – and if they can accurately read the font!
Keep in mind you will always get mixed reviews and sometimes the one you chose will not be the majority vote. If few people have chosen the logo you prefer and have given strong reasons why another would work better – listen. You may be too
emotionally connected to your logo choice to make a rational and smart decision.
If there is a close call between the one you like and another logo concept, chose the one you like, even if it wasn’t the one with the most votes. The logo is going to be your small business identity for a long time and it really needs to resonate with you.
Please remember your small business logo will not be instantly iconic. Brand and logo recognition takes time and consistent use. Follow your style guide in all your marketing and advertising formats, and you will build market awareness. List some examples of company logos that you like and what you like about them: