Every business has a fundamental need to connect with its customers and target market, and one of the best ways is to develop a distinctive visual brand that is recognisable and also one your customers can build an emotional connection with.
Many businesses underestimate the importance of the visual appearance of their brand. But think of it as your shop window for potential and returning customers. Would you be tempted to walk into a shop that was not inviting?
The first key element of your visual brand is the logo. Get that right and it will be the keystone of your brand.
If you are starting with a limited budget, there are ways to create a logo that don’t cost much money, although I would always recommend rebranding with a professional designer once your business is established and has grown.
Do it yourself. If you are a creative person you could design a simple logo yourself using some of the free software available. My advice would be to keep this logo as simple as possible. If you try to create something ambitious without design experience it is likely to look amateur rather than professional. Stick to basic shapes and clean typography.
Phil Smith, owner of Smithscribe created his own logo using a simple typographic style.
Off the peg. Buying a ready-designed logo from one of the many image websites is a good option for start up businesses on a tight budget. They look good and have been designed professionally. But be wary of using these logos if your business is larger or when your business starts to grow as these logos can be used by any other business and have not been created specifically for your business.
See the example on the right. Neither of these companies owns the copyright to this logo so it could be long and fruitless legal battle if either business decided they wanted to use it exclusivity.
Incidentally, the original Twitter logo was bought from istock for about £20 when the company first began. But when they became a financially viable business they rebranded with new twitter bird designed using circles. This was a great opportunity for Twitter to create more meaning around their ever growing brand “This bird is crafted purely from three sets of overlapping circles” says the company blog—”similar to how your networks, interests and ideas connect and intersect with peers and friends.” Nice touch Twitter.
Brief a designer. If you have the budget to afford a designer or design agency to create your logo and visual identity, there are some important things you need to think about first, then communicate them to your chosen designer. A designer is only as good as the brief he or she is given so the more information you can give them about the personality of your business, your vision for the future of you business and your target market; the better results you will get. A vague brief is likely to produce vague results.
Research your competitors. Obviously, this is extremely important for many business reasons. But for purely visual reasons it is a good idea to see what styles and colours are being used within your sector. For example, once you know that the logo of your biggest local competitor uses white wording within a blue circle, then you can avoid that style.
Here is a brief logo checklist:
1. Is it clear and readable? Remember that a logo does not need to tell the whole story, it can represent the story. Simplicity is key, especially when the majority of people will view a logo for about 5 seconds: on the back of a van, a big billboard or shop window.
2. Does it work on dark backgrounds? If you have a logo that does not work on dark backgrounds, is there a different version available in white? Below is a logo I designed that works both on white and dark.
3. Are there any hidden words? Sometimes you have to be careful when playing with typography. Have a look at the new Weightwatchers logo and see if you can see the hidden word that has now been created?
4. Is it versatile? Can your logo work in all different formats? A logo needs to work as well on a website and social media as on a t-shirt or small business card. In fact, there should be no end to where your logo can go!
5. Is your logo created as a Vector? A logo should be created as a vector image not a raster image. A vector image is made of mathematical points so will enlarge to any size. Whereas a vector image is made of pixels so will lose sharpness when enlarged.
6. Is it timeless? Leave trends to the fashion industry and go for a timeless design. Otherwise you will be paying to have your logo redesigned when it goes out of fashion.
If you want to check out more of Steph’s designs (and I totally recommend you do!) then check out her website[hcshort id=”8″]