Creating A Logo: What you should know to get started Because logo designs are such a key part of overall marketing strategy and branding, it is one of the most rewarding (and fun!) processes to go through with our clients. In the last few months, the Breezy Hill Marketing team and I have been fortunate to work with several clients on designing their business logos, and in light of all we’ve learned along the way, we’d love to share with you a helpful logo and branding overview:
Why a logo for my business?
A new logo is a great way to begin to create brand identity for your business or organization and it can help you to better understand your value proposition and your branding. Since it plays into your value proposition and branding it also can show your audience that you stay on top of your game and can help you find new clients. So where do you start? When we meet with clients for the first time to talk about a new logo, we suggest they do a little company identity homework. This saves time, money, and ultimately we have found it yields better results. For example, take the time to brainstorm with your team (or even with your best customers) to drill down into what makes your company special, and how it stands out in your industry. This way, why the time we meet to discuss your logo, you already have color schemes and images in mind. Are you designing a logo from scratch or do you have an existing logo that you want redesigned? Often, we encourage our clients to upgrade their existing look rather than take on a completely new logo. While this may not be right for every situation, what it does do is preserve the visual space your business has worked so hard to create in your market.
The logo Upgrade
To maintain a familiarity with current clients, and your brand identity for perspective clients, upgrading your current logo is fantastic option. Many of the most identifiable logos today have gone through one (if not multiple) upgrades since they were first rolled out. (Fast Company has created a nice infographic of this here:) - so why not you? Upgrading your logo can be a great way to say to your best clients that you are on top of your game, and staying relevant in an ever-changing business landscape. Or maybe you're launching a new website or starting a new Google Ad campaign, this is a great time to debut a fresh look.
A great place to start
Start by discussing with your team the history and future of your company. What are the best parts about your business? What have you accomplished successfully, that you will keep on doing going forward? This may represent the elements of your logo that you will want to keep. Looking towards the future, what do you want your business to look like? What do you want it to become? This may represent the new elements to include in your logo. If this doesn’t initially seem helpful to you, that is perfectly understandable! However, this information will be immensely helpful for the marketing and design team you choose to work with to shape your logo and brand. A great way to organize your answers is to simply make a list with two columns: one of what you like in your logo, and the second of what needs to go. Physically seeing the written list next to the logo often times helps in the process. Think about it this way - A digital ad agency that wants to be clean, cutting edge and minimal will make very different logo and branding decisions than a floral shop whose clientele are looking for frilly, high-end floral arrangements.
Finding what’s working in your industry or market
Another step we suggest our clients do before we meet with them (and we do this ourselves before the meeting as well) is to research what your leading competitors are up to. Contrary to stealing or cheating, this is research into what works best in your market by businesses who are succeeding. Collect logos and branding you find effective in conveying a specific message and bring them in. A simple list of URLs or an envelope of magazine cut-outs works just fine. Compiling all of this information can take time, but it makes the next step of conveying your ideas to a designer much easier. Like bringing pictures of the haircut you want to a stylist, it is well worth the process when your final logo is fantastic and exactly what you wanted!
Creating A Logo From Scratch
When you are starting a logo from scratch, say for a new business or a complete brand overhaul, what you lack in market real estate, you can compensate for by being ambitious in your branding decisions. Much of the process above is still relevant but you won’t draw all that much from past branding. Here are some elements of a logo to think about during the process of redesigning or starting anew.
I often find that people struggle with color a lot in the logo and branding process and that is to be expected because it importantly conveys a sense of your business to prospective to clients (albeit often on a subconscious level). Creative Bloq highlighted some great success stories of color use in logos that can be seen here. Different colors bring on a different feeling to the viewer and you can harness this attribute of color to better express your business. Color temperature is important to think about. For example you have blues, purples, and greens on the cold side of the spectrum and reds, yellows and oranges on the warm side. Recently Laura posted on Facebook a great article from Fast Company with some great information to help you make the right color choice. Read read the full article here.
Erik Spiekmann boldly states “Type is Brand” in his article for Creative Bloq arguing that “nothing communicates a brand’s personality like a custom typeface.” While this may be true, a client’s budget can vary drastically, so this may not seem like an appropriate use of resources for everyone. But he does bring up a great point: Making the proper typeface decisions in your logo and throughout your marketing collateral is a very important element in expressing your brand. Here are some areas of type to think about:
Serif vs San serif
For those of you who aren’t familiar with type, an easy way to distinguish the two is by noticing that serif fonts have small decorative attributes at the ends of the arms, terminals, ascenders and descenders; and sans-serif typefaces do not. A common example of a serif typeface is Times New Roman. Inversely, some commonly used sans-serif typefaces are Helvetica and Arial. Often, mixing a serif and sans-serif typefaces can work wonders. Choosing two typefaces that are too similar, like two sans-serif typefaces in the same family, becomes less interesting and can fall flat.
Thick Vs Thin
Thick and thin typefaces can be used together much like serif and sans-serif fonts to create a great hierarchy of information and make your logo stand out amongst your competition. Don’t get over zealous when choosing multiple typefaces for logos: sticking to a maximum of two typefaces is a good rule of thumb. You want them to compliment each other without your design getting too busy.
If your looking for a fun way to test out different styles of typefaces check out Type Connection created by Aura Seltzer. It can be fun and addicting but also gives you a great sense of what works and what doesn’t work so you will be more comfortable expressing what you are looking for when meeting with a designer to discuss your logo.
Now that you’ve chosen a color palette and typefaces for your logo, it is ready to take “shape”. The shape is comprised of all the elements of your logo and the form it takes. The physical shape of your logo is another important element in expressing the questions that I asked at the beginning. Will it look rigid and sturdy? Or smooth and dainty? This all goes back to who your clients are (or who you want them to be), your services, and how you want your business to be best represented. You can find the article about The psychology of logo shapes, where I got this image on Creative Bloq.
I hope this post gives you confidence and makes you more comfortable in expressing your ideas to a designer when it comes time for that logo upgrade!