Your logo can be the difference between anonymity and your brand becoming a household name. Nike — and everything they make, everything they’ve done, and everything they are — can be summed up in one glance at their ubiquitous “swoosh” logo.
A logo is the image that will remain in the mind of your customers when they’re in the market for the same service or product later down the line. It’s one of the things that can set you apart from your competitors. It’s the image that people will conjure up in their minds when they think of what you sell. Get a step up on the competition and get a great logo.
Photo Credit: Lee Edwin Coursey
1. Resist the Urge to Imitate
In the Eddie Murphy movie Coming to America, Cleo McDowell operated a fast-food chain called McDowell’s that looked — inside and out — almost exactly like McDonald’s. In trying to differentiate from the world’s most famous burger chain, he boasted, “They’ve got the golden arches. Mine are the golden arcs. They’ve got the Big Mac. I’ve got the Big Mick.”
He came off looking like exactly what he was — a cheap knock-off. If a business that came before you found success in a logo, it’s probably because they worked hard to make it emanate their brand. You need to do the same.
2. Know Your Strengths — and Weaknesses
If design is your strong suit, by all means, create your own logo. But if it’s not, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your logo is the gateway to your brand, and creating a good one is important. You need to get it right the first time because swapping out for a new one after that one has been established is a good way to make repeat customers disappear.
Sites like StyleApple and 99Designs allow you to browse the portfolios of designers, hire one you can afford, work with them to create your concept, and come up with an awesome logo. Most come with several free — or even unlimited — revisions.
3. Focus on Text
Good text with a clean, unique font can mean a good logo — just ask the people at a little company called Google.
If your logo contains text, choose a brief, bold statement that sums up your brand or concept. Avoid gimmicky fonts. Consider picking an existing font and adjusting it slightly to make it your own. Be sure to consider if your text will work on both light and dark backgrounds.
Make sure you think about whether your logo will shine in both color and black and white. You won’t always have the money for color advertising, and you won’t always have a choice where people see your brand. Will it look good enlarged, on a bus-stop bench or a billboard? How about shrunk down in a circular?
Just remember that because it looks good on your computer screen doesn’t mean it will always translate in the real world.
5. Less Is More
Most logos get simpler as they evolve over time. Don’t try to do to much. Get in, convey your message, and get out. People who glance at your logo will do exactly that — glance. A bold image, striking text, and a clear message is all you need. Anything more will only fog things up.
A strong logo has been part of good branding since people started buying products.
6. Don’t Take Shortcuts
Never use clip art stock photos or canned images. Not only may someone have already scooped them up, but your whole goal is to be original. Your entire purpose in designing a logo is to speak to the unique entity that is your brand, your product, your service. This is how you’ll be known — now is not the time to cut creative corners.
7. Revise, Revise, Revise
Your first draft is exactly that — a draft. Do NOT use your first — or for that matter, second or third — attempt.
Just as with writing copy, each revision brings improvement. Your first go of it may be good, buy you should be going for great. Don’t settle for your first try, and don’t allow any freelancer you hire to convince you that he always gets it right the first time.
Photo Credit: tanakawho
8. Find Inspiration Wherever You Can
Stealing or even borrowing a logo is not the same as drawing inspiration and jogging your creativity by looking at the success stories that have come before you.
Think of the things you like, whether it’s the brand of milk you buy or the kind of shoes you wear; check out their logo and try to take honest inventory of whether you think it had some bearing on your loyalty to them over their multitude of competitors. Not only will their logo jog your inner artist, but the fact that it worked on you will let your realize the power of a strong image.
Your brand is, in a sense, whatever your logo says it is. Your logo is your brand’s fingerprint. It’s what makes it unique and how it can easily be identified. Get creative, keep it simple, and get to work on your awesome new logo.
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