Investing in a logo for your company is time and money well spent yet many businesses simply skimp on this important brand identity piece. A well thought-out logo will enhance potential customers and partners’ crucial first impression of your business and can build loyalty between your business and your customers.
A logo is more than images and words, it should tell a story about your company – who you are, and what you do, and what you stand for. Think of the McDonalds golden arches, the Nike swoosh or Target bulls-eye. These images represent these companies well and are easily recognizable around the world.
I know what you are probably thinking: you do not have the financial resources of a giant corporation like Nike to create a logo and design is not your forte. True, a professionally designed logo can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000 to develop. However, there are thousands of independent designers and small ad agencies who charge way less for entrepreneurs on a tight budget. But before you contact one of them, you need to think long and hard about what you want your logo to say about your business.
Below is some important information to help you create the ideal logo:
There are basically three kinds of logo types. Font-based logos consist primarily of a type. For example: IBM, Microsoft and Sony, use type treatments with a twist that makes them distinctive. Then there are logos that literally illustrate what a company does, such as a paint brush for a house-painting company or a house with a for sale sign for a realtor. And finally, there are abstract graphic symbols-such as the CBS eye or NBC peacock.
“Such a symbol is meaningless until your company can communicate to consumers what its underlying associations are,” says Americus Reed II, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, who’s conducted research on the triggers that lead consumers to identify with and become loyal to a brand. But building that mental bridge takes time and money. The Nike swoosh has no inherent meaning outside of what’s been created over the years through savvy marketing efforts that have transformed the logo into an “identity cue” for an athletic lifestyle.
Avoid putting your logo design ideas down on paper until you have determined its’ primary function. Such as:
Whether you are designing your logo in-house or hiring a professional graphic designer,
you need to articulate the message you want your logo to convey. Try writing a one-sentence image and mission statement to help focus your efforts. Stay true to this statement while creating your logo.
One thing you need to be careful of as you explore color options is cost. Your five-color logo may be gorgeous, but once it comes time to produce it on a promotional piece, the price won’t be so attractive. Nor will it work in mediums that only allow one or two colors. Try not to exceed three colors unless you decide it’s absolutely necessary.
Your logo can appear on a variety of media: signage, advertising, stationery, delivery vehicles and packaging, to name just a few. Remember that some of those applications have production limitations. Make sure you do a color study. Look at your logo in one-, two- and three-color versions.
Using and Protecting Your Logo
Once you’ve produced a logo that embodies your company’s mission at a glance, make sure you trademark it to protect it from use by other companies. You can apply for a trademark at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Web site.
Then, once it’s protected, use it everywhere you can-on business cards, stationery, letterhead, brochures, ads, your Web site and any other place where you mention your company name. This will help build your image, raise your company’s visibility and, ideally, lead to more business.
Portions of this article written by David Cotriss, Kim T. Gordon and Steve Nubie, and previously published on Entrepreneur.com.