Picking or creating a logo design can be tricky. We all know that these days most people consume media visually. It is a self-evident truth, shaped by decades and mass and multimedia. After all, a picture does say more than a thousand words. Picking the right image, however, is not always easy.
A bad first impression is made quicker than we like. And communicating the wrong thing before having had a chance to say a word can you lose clients and customers. Worst of all is that as a culture we are bombarded with messages and images. So cutting through the noise is sometimes the hardest aspect of a competitive marketplace.
The right logo design can help your brand not only stand out but also actively attract your consumers. We will help you understand the basics of branding and identity, and how that plays into your logo. Then you can make the best decisions for your business regarding your logo creation.
Brand Identity and Logos
Before we start talking about logos, first a few clarifying points. Because as valuable as a logo is, it can not replace two things. Both branding and identity are essential first steps. You need to be clear about these before choosing a logo.
Simply put, branding encompasses the entire emotional image as your clients and customers perceive it. As an example, let us use one of the world’s leading companies: Apple. Arguably the perfect use of branding in history, Apple conjures up images in the minds of eager customers. They are a technology company that does not talk tech. Instead, Apple stands for creativity, youth, and is approachable yet somewhat exclusive. Apple is not for nerds; it is for those of us who want to change the world. “Think Different,” they said.
To help you visualize this, here is a rare recording of the “Think Different,” commercial, narrated by Steve Jobs. Eventually, the company would decide to go with the one narrated by Richard Dreyfus:
Identity incorporates all of the visual aspects of your brand: your website, the colors you use, your packaging, your ads, and your messages. Anything visual that communicates the company. To a degree, this also includes the logo, but overall can be the brand equivalent of the outfit you wear and the posture you have. In case of Apple, this means the statement minimalism they became famous for.
Now obviously, you do not have to be Apple. Being the best is a limited position. But there are lessons to be learned about how to carefully construct an image for yourself. And how an image adds value in the minds of the consumer.
What is a Logo then?
As already mentioned, to a degree a logo is part of your company’s identity. But whereas the identity is a sort of outfit for your company, the logo is the face. Without mixing metaphors too much, the logo is a culmination of both branding and identity into one identifiable mark. That is also the reason why these two aspects of your company are crucial in making your logo design work.
Is your brand playful and family-friendly with a colorful identity? Your logo should reflect that. Same goes for the opposite. A minimalistic design with muted colors might work for luxury jewelry but would communicate the wrong message for a brand of baby toys. This connection sounds obvious, but that’s just because it is. The second you see a logo, you should get a good idea what kind of brand it represents. What kind of feel it has, and whether or not you want to be part of that feeling.
People identify themselves psychographically because they want to be part of a particular perceived feeling. That is why a punk will most likely gravitate towards a punk aesthetic. Or why young creatives (or people who present as such) gravitate towards Apple. Whether or not your logo design is classically luxurious or fun and quirky, the feeling is crucial. It can be subjective, and it can be hard to pin down, but it speaks to us on a deeper level than product specs or promotions ever could.
Provide your customer with a feeling they want to have. A good logo is powerful that way. A first impression that draws you in. But be careful; a lousy logo will at best get no attention. At the worst, it will turn off your target audience.
How to Design a Logo
Before you start making decisions about your logo design, you should get a crystal clear grasp of your brand identity. A logo can be such a precise tool, so be sure to have this down when you enter the design process. Ask yourself following questions: Why did I start this business? What do we do better than our competition? How do we define our values? What are our look and feel? How is would you describe your company in as few words as possible?
More than that, you should check out the competition. This research is mostly for inspiration. It allows you to see how the business you are in communicates itself to its audience. Based on that information, you can try and emulate successful ideas, examine the room for improvement, or aim to go in a different direction altogether. Standing out is one of the primary purposes of a logo.
Once you collect all your research, you have two options: Either you hire a graphic designer to come up with a logo design for you, or you start designing by yourself. Let us explore the former option first.
How to find a Logo Designer
At first, glance finding a logo designer might seem like a daunting task. Luckily, not every graphic designer is Rob Janoff and refuses to take input while charging horrendous fees. The cruel reality for most designers is that they are eager for work. This fact gives you room to explore.
The easiest way is to make use of one of many logo design websites. These websites operate as centralized hubs. They work relatively fast and are convenient and affordable. The only downside to this option is just that you will have to work through customer service.
Alternatively, you can search for a freelance graphic designer. Freelance boards are abundant these days. You can either post an ad specifying what you are looking for or look for freelancers offering up their skills. Either way, you will most likely enjoy a more personal experience compared to a website. And if you are living in a big city, you are likely to be able to meet the designer in person.
Regardless which of the two ways you go with, make sure to know what you want. Communicating visual ideas can be tough. Take your time and be particular about what part of your brand is essential.
How to Design a Logo Yourself
The unfortunate truth is that not all of us are very creative. And even if you are a creative person yourself, you might lack design skills. Tools like Photoshop or Illustrator are powerful software for creating any logo imaginable. The problem is that you probably do not have the time required to learn any design software adequately. It is a terrible skill to learn fast. Thankfully, there are some DIY and free logo design options. They will not have the flourish of a professional but are good in their own right.
Logojoy is one of the most popular logo creators available. The reputation is well earned. The website takes out variables resulting from lack of personal design skills. Logojoy asks questions, nothing more. Based on your answers, you will receive a number of suggestions. If you do not like any of the options you received, you can request more. Keep making changes, and finetune the output until you are satisfied. It is a fun process and worth checking out for yourself.
Logo Maker by Ucraft is an app that makes DIY logo design easy. You will get an extensive catalog of different shapes, fonts, and icons to play with. In that sense, it is the LEGO kit of logo design. You will have to put in a little personal effort, but if you like minimalist design, Logo Maker can put out an incredible number of great logo designs.
Logoshi is an affordable tool that, like Logo Maker, allows for personal creative input. You get the typical set of intuitive options, but with one big addition. If you are capable of expressing yourself on paper, but not a computer, Logoshi has the feature for you. Upload a rough sketch of what you would like your logo to look like, and the website will generate a digital estimate. While requiring a bit more skill, it is the best option for something truly custom at a low price point.
The Time for a Logo Design is Now
With all the business decisions any entrepreneur has to go through, a logo does not appear as a priority. But underestimating a logo design’s importance now leads to regret later. Especially for web-based companies that have to compete in a highly visual environment. So make sure you take your time to perfect the face of your brand. You won’t get lost in a sea of clutter and noise. But most importantly, it helps to build a deeper relationship with your customers. A connection based on mutual identity.