What is a logo? A logo is a combination of text and visual imagery that serves two purposes. It tells people the name of the company and it creates a visual symbol that represents your business. Some logos have powerful symbolic association connected to people’s memory. For example, the McDonalds golden arches are so familiar that they no longer need the text “McDonalds” for you to recognise that that symbol represents McDonalds.
Why do I need a logo?
Having a professional looking, well designed logo builds trust. Potential customers are more likely to do business with you if you have a well designed logo. If your logo looks like it was designed in Microsoft Word, people will question how well you are able to deliver your core business products/services.
What should a good small business logo contain?
Make the text part of your logo super clear and readable
While many small businesses think their brand is going to be the next Coca Cola or McDonalds, in reality when you’re starting out with your logo, one of the most important characteristics is that the text of your company name is clear and easy to read at a distance, as it may appear on vehicle signage, building signage, posters or some other place where the logo is seen at a distance.
Use it consistently
When large global brands get a logo designed they often prepare large brand standards documents, dozens of pages deep. These documents cover things like:
Guidance on the different variations of the logo and where they should and shouldn’t be used.
Guidance on modifying the logo and what shouldn’t be done to the logo.
What should and shouldn’t appear nearby the logo.
How the logo should appear in all sorts of different scenarios.
Although this level of documentation is overkill for most small business logos, these large brands understand that if brands are inconsistent in the way their logo appears in different situations, this can be damaging to trust. So be really consistent with how your logo is used.
Simple colours – think about the different situations it will be used in
Your logo might appear on screens, business cards, letterheads, pull up banners, vehicles, shop signage, product packaging, newspaper adverts just to name a few. Logos that have gradient colours, lots of fine detail, a lot of different colours or photographic content are much more likely to look quite different in these different situations as many of them use completely different printing technology and it makes it difficult to match the colours exactly. This is why the most powerful brands in the world usually stick to a simple palette of less than 3 main colours. They also use solid colours rather than gradients.
Have something visual/memorable
While it might take you a few decades to become the next Coca Cola or McDonalds, having something memorable about your logo is a good idea. Some businesses do this by using interesting text or modifying part of the text in the logo to not just be a standard font. Other businesses do this by adding some sort of illustrated icon alongside the text part of the logo. One useful aspect of having an icon is that you can use the icon on it’s own in some situations as well. For example, the Nike tick can appear with the Nike text or without. While originally the Nike tick would have meant nothing if it didn’t appear alongside the Nike text, over time that visual memory association has developed. If you’re wanting a very sleek, minimalist logo, just using a modern looking font with a pop of accent colour is a good option.
How do I get a logo?
The best way to get a logo is to have it professionally designed. Although there are cheap online logo design services, from our experience the best value and service is from small local graphic design shops or print shops. By going for a small freelance graphic designer or print shop with an in-house designer, you’re going to avoid paying thousands that you might pay with an ad agency or large design firm but still get a quality logo with personal service. These small design businesses are also excellent at designing business cards and print materials so you can often get good deals by getting them to design your business cards, stationery and logo at once. This also helps you nail that brand consistency.
Tips for choosing a designer and getting the best result
Make sure you view examples of their previous work — and you like what they’ve done previously. If they have a large portfolio of great looking logo design examples, you can be more confident in their ability to design you a great logo. Have a chat to other small businesses you know who have great looking logos and ask who they used and whether they would recommend the designer. If you’re a small business starting out, you shouldn’t need to spend thousands on logo design so if you feel like the price you’ve been quoted might be too high, ask around to see what other people paid. Even the best designers can only delight their clients if they have a clear brief of what the client wants. If the brief from the client is too vague, it’s very difficult to know where to begin with the design.