Before starting this article, we want to preface that creating a logo can be really fun or incredibly stressful and time-consuming. Before you go down the rabbit hole of designing a logo, consider if you need one first. We have seen so many companies stress over their logo without considering if they genuinely need one. A logos aim is to be a recognizable symbol that can help differentiate your company from others. However, if you're an accountant who is using your name as a company name, a logo isn't necessarily going to help you. Your name is your logo, put it on the door, and start making money.
If you're stressed about what your logo is going to be, you're searching online to find ideas, but you haven't considered if you need a logo, it's time to do so.
Your brand is whatever you want it to be, but to have a strong brand, you need consistency. That means if you create a logo but don't need to put that logo anywhere, you probably didn't need it in the first place. A barber with a social media account and t-shirts behind the register is going to need a logo. A football team needs a logo. An eCommerce store trying to separate itself from thousands of others requires a logo. A doctor starting a practice or a lawyer starting a firm doesn't necessarily need a logo. A logo is an excellent addition to your brand. Still, it shouldn't be prioritized over developing your business model and getting customers.
If you decide that you need a logo and brand would be stronger with a one, that's great! Just don't spend all your time and energy trying to create one that you may decide to change in a couple of months. It's okay if it isn't perfect.
We have all been there. You think you came up with the winning logo, and you show a couple of friends. To your dismay, they don't love it, and suddenly you don't either. You go back to the drawing board, rinse, and repeat. All of a sudden, it's been weeks, and you have ten logo variations saved on your computer. You're staring, red-eyed, at the screen trying to figure out which one is going to bring in the millions.
The logo you use for your business is perhaps the most crucial element of your company's branding. It is often the first image your customers will see and associate with your business. Ideally, your logo should help customers easily remember your business and represent what your company stands for. Maybe your restaurant renovation is on a deadline, and you need to send a file to the sign maker like yesterday. We get it. But if there is one thing we want you to get from this article, it's that your logo is not going to make or break you.
We have seen many entrepreneurs get what we call "logo burn out." Logo Burn Out is when you get excited about your business, spend too much time on a logo, and get discouraged when you can't decide on a design. You have a great idea and a great business model, but because you can't decide on a logo, you don't think it is worth pursuing. All of the potential energy fizzles out. You're fine, don't get stuck in the never-ending logo cycle.
Take a look in the mirror and decide whether you need the logo to be perfect, or you are procrastinating the stuff that seems a little more complicated. It's natural; starting a business is scary stuff. But the more time you spend trying to perfect the logo, the longer you're going to be stressed about the more complicated stuff.
The logo on your door is not going to make your haircuts better, the food tastier, or the dog grooming more... "groom-ier"? You have forty thousand things to worry about when starting a business. If you set a solid foundation, don't cut corners, and put the time in, strong business branding will come.
(Steps off of soapbox)
Okay, we've said our piece. Let's create this logo.
So what makes an excellent logo? There are several essential design elements and considerations to make before diving in. Here are some essential logo design tips and other things to consider as you create this vital representation of your brand.
It's a good idea to have a logo design before you start promoting your company. You don't need a logo to secure your first client, but if you're going to start a marketing campaign, it's good to have some branding solidified. A logo is meant to pull all of your branding together and help customers easily recall your business. So you want to have it in place when you first start promoting your company, so there won't be a disconnect if you end up changing it shortly after that.
Figure out your business model and your goals before you start designing your logo. A logo without a viable business model is just a sticker decal.
It may also be a good idea to wait until you register your business name before you go through the logo design process. If not, you risk wasting a lot of work or expense if you're not able to secure your name of choice, and you'll end up needing to start the design process over again.
There are different types of logos out there. But for most small businesses, it's a good idea to include your business name in the design to make things easy for customers. In addition to your name, your logo should consist of some graphic that makes it stand out. Being unique may be as simple as a customized font or an additional shape or illustration. Don't overthink it!
If you're feeling overwhelmed, you can start with your company name with a simple png graphic above it. It doesn't matter if the font is Times New Roman, and you're using a clip art photo of a flower. It's a start, and you can make adjustments from there. It is a lot easier to visualize a logo when it is in front of you.
Don't get caught up in being too literal with your images or symbolism, either. Unless you repair motorcycles and don't want to have to explain why your logo is a bunny holding a flower, you're okay just to choose something you like. We chose coral because it makes us happy and we love the beach. How were we supposed to symbolize helping small business grow? We like coral. We chose coral. You're still reading this article even though small businesses have as much common with coral as a cat and an elephant.
Some businesses also choose to have a couple of alternate logos to use. You might have one full logo, that includes your name and every design element. Then you might have a smaller version that has your initials or a clear image that you can use for little things like social media icons.
We don't use our entire logo for social media. We just use the image of the coral we created. Google will sometimes just use a capital G with the colors they use for their branding. As long as you're consistent, you can be creative!
When it comes to the elements of logo creation, you have a few options at your disposal. For entrepreneurs or business owners with design skills, you can try to design your logo.
Canva is an enjoyable program to use that you can get for less than $14/month. It has a drag and drop feature that allows you to quickly create designs for social media, presentations, and other materials. Canva also has a free version as well as a 30-day free trial. If you're new to design and Canva is a great option because it is easy to use and has a templates to give you a head start.
Affinity Designer is a tool used by professionals to create vector graphics. This tool has a learning curve and is definitely geared towards professionals. Still, this may be a good option if you're planning on doing a majority of marketing and branding yourself.
Adobe Illustrator is a program designed to create vector graphics and has been around since the mid-80s. It is a powerful tool that is a part of the adobe suite. Similar to Affinity Designer, it has a learning curve and is geared towards the professional. However, if you're serious about your marketing, Adobe Illustrator is a phenomenal tool to have in your arsenal.
Upwork connects businesses of all sizes to freelancers, independent professionals, and agencies for all their hiring needs. From seasoned professionals to someone looking to gain experience, you can find anyone you need to complete a project. This may be a great option to get pricing quotes and explore getting a logo designed.
A competitor to Upwork, Fiverr claims to be a one-stop-shop for your business needs. You can have a logo designed for cheap. For best results, you'll want to have an idea of what you're looking for. You will also want to communicate exactly what you want clearly. Remember, you usually get what you pay for, but Fiverr can be a pleasant surprise on occasion.
99Designs has a pretty cool business model. They connect freelancers with individuals who need a graphic designer. You can submit a proposal for what you're looking for then receive multiple designs from various parties. This method is a great way to get ideas and a cheap way to shop around for a designer.
If you don't have design experience or didn't do well in art class back in middle school, you may want to leave this to a professional. You can find a local or online logo designer to work with on a custom branding package. Look at sites like Upwork, 99designs, or Fiverr for inexpensive options. Another viable option could also be to reach out to art students at local colleges who may be looking for work to build their portfolios.
While you may be able to find someone to do it for free - it's best practice to pay any designer, even students, for their work. It could be an excellent way to establish a relationship with a young up-and-coming designer who could create visuals for your business for years.
A word of advice, giving someone "exposure" is a slap in the face to another small business owner trying to start their career. Do your part and don't try and cut corners. Whether it's trading services or giving and following up on an "I owe you," pay them.
Finally, you could also have your logo designed by a design agency, although this route may end up costing you a bit more. We would suggest going with one of the cheaper options, especially if you aren't 110% sure you're going to love your logo long-term. Your logo may go through minor tweaks, and design changes as you develop your brand, paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a first draft is a risk you may not want to take.
Whether you work with a designer or want to create your logo yourself, you'll need to start with some idea of what you want your logo to look like. Color is one of the most important elements to consider since colors are powerful in human psychology.
Fast food brands use the color red. If you think of your favorite fast-food restaurant, chances are they use red in their logo. While psychologists and science have debated claims for decades, it's a commonly held belief that red gives us a sense of urgency and makes us hungry. Therefore, red is a pretty great color to use in a logo to promote fast food.
Not to mention, the right colors can be incredibly eye-catching and can be a differentiating factor between someone choosing you and a competitor. After all, we all know the person who determines their March Madness picks based on the mascots.
Red tends to be associated with power, it's exciting, and it is known to illicit hunger. Red can also express urgency as many traffic signals can be red. You may think of strawberries, a stop sign, or a rare steak when thinking of red. Whatever you think of it's probably something that gets your heart rate going up a tiny bit.
Blue is one of the most popular colors in logos. Corporate America loves to use blue because it signifies trust. You'll often see politicians either where a red or a blue tie to symbolize their power or honesty. However, blue is known to suppress appetite, so the food industry usually stays away from using it.
Green is popular with companies that want to seem fresh and natural. When you think of organic and healthy food, you probably will associate the color green with them. Green is also relaxing and encourages someone to take things slow.
Yellow is often associated with happiness. Yellow can be seen as enthusiastic or youthful. As a result of being viewed as a carefree color, companies usually tone this color down and use a beige or use it as a secondary color. Yellow can sometimes trigger our brains to think of a product or service as being cheap.
Orange, like yellow, is seen as exciting and youthful. Energizing is also a word used with orange regularly. Some say that orange encourages impulse buying, which would explain why companies like the Home Depot cover most of their store with orange. It can also help eating, socializing, and general comfort.
Pink can be seen as feminine, sweet, or even calming. Candy and sweets will usually use pink in their branding, while medicine will use it for it's calming properties. If you're in the food industry, you may want to stay away from pink if you're going to portray yourself as healthy. When you think of pink, you think of bubble gum and donuts, not salad.
Black is powerful, elegant, and professional. While it can represent sophistication, black doesn't give you warm and fuzzy feelings. Brands looking to cater to higher-end clientele, or a clean and sophisticated vibe do well using black.
Gray/Silver, especially a stainless steel color, will encourage thoughts of reliability. However, gray can also give off feelings of being boring, straight to the point, or depression. If you're a company that is looking to push the envelope, gray may not be your color. However, if you're a no-nonsense, reliable, or going for a natural look with earth tones, gray may be right for you.
White is commonly associated with pureness, hope, and clarity. When used correctly, white can highlight other colors and give a sense of cleanliness. White can be used in the text on a dark background to help things stand out.
Throughout history, purple has been viewed as a luxurious, lavish color reserved for royalty. Purple can also make people think of wisdom or creativity. Purple isn't typical in the food industry, but companies looking to make a statement may use purple.
Brown makes us think of something to be reliable, comforting, or inexpensive. This may be due to our obsession with coffee and chocolate, but the earthy tone also makes us think of savory things. Its association with the earth will also make things feel natural.
You can include just one color in your logo or a combination. Just make sure the shades you select complement one another. Many brands also choose to add black or another neutral tone for the type and then integrate color in other ways.
Don't get too caught up in what colors you use. Colors can be a lot like horoscopes. They can be fun and exciting to play around with. Still, you can probably twist the psychology of a particular color to match your brand if you try hard enough. We aren't saying that horoscopes aren't real - we are just saying that choosing your favorite color for your logo isn't going to make or break you.
Keeping printing in mind as you're designing your logo will save hundreds or even thousands in the future. If you have a logo made up of dark colors like black, gray, and dark blue, it won't show up well on letterhead or printing materials that are black and white. Companies that print t-shirts usually charge by the color, and the more colors your logo has, the more you'll have to pay. However, this doesn't mean you should stick to black, white, and gray. Look at what a black and white version of your logo looks like before finalizing your design, and you'll thank us later.
We hear you - businesses aren't printing as much as they used to. However, there will be an event you co-sponsor, a dinner you buy a table at, or a website you're featured on that you're going to want a flexible logo for. You'll be a lot happier with a logo that can be used anywhere, rather than having to adjust it every time you have a new project.
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Now that you have a logo that you're happy with, you're going to want to save it in multiple formats and make sure you have access to the original. Write down the Hex Code of all of the colors in your logo, as well as the font you used. Save the files on your computer, in the cloud, and give a set to your cousin. Hell, provide a set of files to your parents to put in their safe.
If you lose anything from the font style to the graphic you used, your experience developing a brand will be frustrating. We have seen logo files be destroyed in fires, flood damage, accidentally deletion; you name it. Don't fall victim to losing all of your hard work because you didn't save it in multiple places and make sure things are consistent.
You also want to make sure you save your logo with and without the background behind it. Have you ever seen an awkwardly placed logo with a white background surrounded by aesthetically pleasing logos? That's because the company with the awkward logo doesn't have a logo with a transparent background. They either have to look silly with a white rectangle behind their logo for eternity or change their logo where ever they placed it. Don't be this company.
PNG images or Portable Graphics Format is one of the most popular file formats on the internet. It will most likely go on your website, be used in print materials, and on social media. It is one of the few formats that allow you to save files with transparent backgrounds.
JPEG stands for "Joint Photographic Experts Group." Jpeg files are among the smallest and are, therefore, one of the more popular file types. While PNG files are taking the throne of most popular, you still may be asked for a JPEG image. These files will have a background.
Vector files are unique because they aren't using pixels like the other file types. They are using a mathematical equation, or simply put, shapes, to build an image. The distinction is important because as you expand pixels, the pixels will begin to blur. That is why when you try and blow up a picture of your cat, Whiskers will eventually look like a blurry mess of colors and fuzz. Shapes, however, don't blur when you expand them. Shapes just get bigger and bigger. That means if you want to expand your tiny logo into the size of a poster, you can.
Portable Document Format, or PDF is becoming increasingly popular for graphic designers and printing shops. PDFs were created by Adobe Systems and can be universally downloaded and viewed by any computer that has the Adobe Reader program
TIFF files or Tag Image File Format is popular among graphic artists, the publishing industry, and photographers. It is useful for editing and storage.
A logo is meant to be notable and eye-catching. If your logo has too much going on, it won't be memorable. However, your logo could get lost in the pack if your design looks similar to other businesses. Not to mention, if it seems too similar to a competitor, you could receive a cease and desist letter. Some larger brands have gone as far as trademarking colors and not just their logos, so be careful not to copy an idea too closely.
Your goal is to find a happy medium between uniqueness and simplicity.
No matter what colors, fonts, and graphics you select for your logo, it's always important to keep things as simple as possible. Lots of extra words and images can make a logo seem cluttered or confusing. Complicated logos also tend to look worse in print and when sized down for small graphics. Avoid this by keeping yours basic yet clear and indicative of your overall brand image.
The final and most crucial element to remember is branding. Your logo is a visual representation of your company. So ensure that all the factors that go into it reflect your brand's vision, goals, and identity. If you don't want to use the color red in any of your branding, it shouldn't be in your logo.
While designing a logo can be stressful, try to have fun with it. Designing a logo is an idea coming to life before your eyes and is a milestone in your companies journey. Make something you're proud to show off to customers!