Your logo is a single image that represents everything your business is, does and stands for.
As your business grows, your logo becomes the recognizable symbol people can use as shorthand for your brand and your quality.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and your logo is worth that much and more to your business.
That’s why you need to put as much thought and planning as possible into your logo design. Choosing a logo might seem simple, but there are a number of factors you need to keep in mind.
Possible Types of Logos
At the outset, it seems like a logo is a logo.
In actuality, you can break down the logo category into smaller groups. Each group tends to represent a different kind of business, with different connotations.
Here are the main logo groups.
1. Text Logos
These logos are simple acronyms or short words that use a customized font, layout and other typographical quirks to become unique. Think of Coca-Cola, IBM or Wal*Mart for examples
2. Illustrative Logos
These logos use a mixture of text and graphics to display what your business does. Best used for active service providers, think of logos like Red Lobster or the NBA (and other sports associations).
3. Abstract Logos
Think of brands like Nike, Pepsi and Mazda.
These companies have symbols as their logos that, by themselves, mean nothing. The brand attaches meaning to the abstract symbol, which can be used anywhere and recognized immediately.
4. You need to decide what type of logo works best for you.
Chances are you will find a mixture of logo types will work best. Nike has the swoosh, but it is almost always accompanied by their brand name. Pure type logos are simple and effective for stationary and advertising, but they lack the instant recognition of a symbolic logo.
If you provide a product, a logo that incorporates that product may be ideal.
Researching a Logo
Before you start designing your own logo, do some logo research. Here are a few ideas of what to look for before you begin. While you’re at it, look at your own business. What is your logo trying to convey?
1. What kind of logos do your competitors use?
If you’re in a professional setting where most competitors use text logos, you can stand out with an iconic graphic. On the other hand, if most companies in your area use graphics, a bold typographical logo might stand out even more.
2. What message are you trying to send?
If your company provides serious business consulting, you probably don’t want a childlike graphic. On the other hand, if you run a daycare, you don’t want a logo with severe angles and a lack of color.
3. Where will it go?
A complex logo may look awesome on a billboard or on the side of a van, but when you shrink it down for letterhead and business cards, it loses all detail and looks messy. Simple, iconic logos that can be used in color or silhouette, large or small work the best.
4. Plan for the future.
Don’t make a logo that suits current trends unless you plan for the company to die when those trends do. Instead, make it generic enough to live on past the initial trends. Logo redesigns always alienate old fans, no matter how valuable they otherwise are.
Designing a Logo
Once you’ve done your research, you know where to begin. You have one more decision to make before you create a logo, however. Do you want to design it yourself, or do you want to hire a talented — but expensive — professional graphic designer?
Designing your logo on your own will save you money in the short term, but chances are you don’t have the graphical training or the logo experience to make one that sticks.
It’s easy to fall into a pet idea and run with it, to the detriment of your company. However, you’re the one who knows your company the best. You know what you’re trying to convey, and you can come up with a number of potential ideas before you meet with a graphic designer.
Hiring a logo designer is rarely cheap, and when it is, you often get what you pay for. An expensive, talented logo designer will do their own research and take your ideas into account.
They will put together a perfect logo for multipurpose use, provide you with all of the source files and keep records for future cooperation.
Don’t forget that, while hiring a logo designer is a huge initial expense, it should be a one-time purchase. You won’t be hiring them once a year for logo design. If they know what they’re doing, your logo shouldn’t need updating for at least a decade.
When you stretch out the cost, it becomes much more reasonable.
Once you have your logo, make sure it is yours.
This means you need to contact the Patent Office to request a trademark. Once your logo is trademarked, you’re free to use it on everything from company vehicles to company pens.
If you don’t trademark it, another unscrupulous company can swoop in and steal it, possibly even trade marking it out from under you. You might have little legal recourse if something happens. Always protect your logo.
Of course, your logo alone won’t convey all of the information you want it to without plenty of work on your part. A business works hard to associate themselves with the values they want to convey.
You need to associate your brand with quality, innovation, reliability and all the other essential qualities. Only then will your logo, a direct symbol of your brand, take on these connotations.
Building your brand is an ongoing process. Building logo recognition goes hand in hand with raising customer awareness and maintaining the quality of your product or service.
A logo becomes shorthand for your business — make sure its thousand words are praise.