Hi! And welcome to episode 5 of startup marketing. Today, we’re going to talk about how you select a logo. I absolutely love the process of designing and picking a logo. I’ve had the privilege to do a logo redesign in my former life as well as create logos for some of my clients. There’s so much that goes into it and it’s far more strategic than most people think. I’ve got a handful of things you want to keep in mind when selecting a logo, so let’s dive in.
Your logo is one of the most important decisions you will make for your business. In an ideal world, you’ll pick something that you’re really happy with and communicate your business well because, especially if you’ve got a brick and mortar location or inventory, it will be used in places that can be costly to re-do in a year if you don’t like it. If you run your business strictly online, you have a little bit more flexibility because you don’t incur large expenses when you change your logo. However, in either case, changing your logo frequently will cause you to lose brand value and recognition among your ideal customers, something you definitely want to avoid, so being meticulous upfront is worth the time investment.
There’s a lot of ways you can get a logo. I, of course, recommend working with someone who’s skill in branding, design and knows logos well. This ensures that you’re going to get a level of strategy when designing your logo. Designers who understand branding well, will be able to do a deeper dive into what you want to communicate, how you want to communicate and give you options to select from. As we’ll go through, there’s a handful of critical things you want to consider when creating your logo and a branding expert will be able to take those into account AND deliver something that’s nicely designed.
You can also crowdsource your logo through sites like Fivver and Dribble. I’ve had great success contracting with freelance designers through these sites, but before you crowdsource, you’ll want to make sure you understand the five principles we’re about to go through so, in place of a branding expert, you can make sure your logo will work for you long term.
Now, what do you need to consider when selecting a logo?
First and foremost, you need to think about how you will use your logo. Will it be mostly online? Or will you be creating a lot of print material? Either way, but especially if you’ll be doing a lot of print, consider keeping the number of colors pretty limited—no more than two. This is because the more colors you have to print in a logo, the more expensive your print job becomes. We’ll touch on this later on, but even though you could print your logo exclusively in black and white, I promise you’ll want to print it in color as well. Having several colors in your logo means you’re spending precious dollars getting it done. Using a lot of colors also means that you’ll be limited to what color background you can put your logo on. If it has every color, you’ll be stuck with white. You’ll also want to think about the use of the logo because you’ll have to scale it. Can your logo be sized down to a small size, like that of a quarter, and still be legible? There may come a day when you want to buy things like pens or giveaway items and if your logo doesn’t scale down to a small size, it won’t look professional and be a good representation of you and your services. Likewise, you’re going to want to be able to scale it to a large proportion, think the size of a billboard. You may never actually put your logo on a billboard, but if you ever need to make it larger than its original size, you don’t want it to become pixelated—we’ll touch on this more later.
Second, you want to think about the style of your logo and what you need to communicate. Ideally, your logo (and therefore business name, so remember you can apply these same principles to selecting a name if you haven’t done so already) should communicate what you do and your brand’s personality. Your logo is going to lend you credibility, so making sure it matches what you do will elicit the right types of feelings from your ideal customer. It’s the difference between needing a logo that’s sleek and refined for an investment company versus a whimsical design for a cookie company. They communicate very different things and you want to make sure you’re sending the right message with your logo. You also want to make sure that when someone sees your logo, they can understand what it is you do. If you can’t clearly communicate who you are and what you do, your logo should be revised. This doesn’t mean that if you’re a computer repair service, you have to have a literal picture of a computer in your logo, but you’ll want to make sure that your name is clear so people don’t have to guess about what you are.
In my past life in credit union marketing, as we were working on a new logo, there was a lot of debate about whether or not we should keep the words “federal credit union” under our name. A lot of us wanted to leave them behind—they didn’t scale to small spaces well and we thought the logo looked more modern without them. Then, one member of the team pointed out: how will people know what we are if those words aren’t there? We had heard time and again from our executives that only 1 in 4 people knew what a credit union was. And, while we had a fair amount of market share, we were by no means extremely well known. So that meant that 75% of the population would have no idea what we were and therefore, wouldn’t consider us for banking services without the phrase “federal credit union” there.
That’s a perfect example of why you want to carefully consider what you need to communicate. You’ll pay precious dollars for a logo, don’t reduce the impact by not thinking through what your ideal customer does and doesn’t know about you and what you need to say to say about your business.
Third, what is your brand personality? As I’ve mentioned, knowing your brand personality plays a large role in the aesthetic selections you’re going to make. Do you have a more sophisticated feel to your brand? Do you want to feel bright and whimsical? You want your logo to convey your desired aesthetic and match the tone of voice you use in any communication materials you put together. You want to make sure that everything you put together feels cohesive. So, if you’re a tech firm, but your logo has a shabby chic vibe to it, ask yourself if it really matches your brand personality.
Fourth: Your font selection should be a reflection of your personality. When selecting a font, it’s important that you know if there are any restrictions on the fonts you want to use. Some fonts are free, and some fonts require you to pay a small licensing fee to use them in a commercial space. If you’re working with a branding or graphic design professional, they should take care of this for you. It’s the difference between being able to use the font for some super cute birthday invitations you’re making for your friend vs. using the font in your logo. If you look to Pinterest for font inspiration (and I highly recommend it), you need to be very aware of this. There are plenty of pins out there that display these really pretty and modern fonts. You can definitely use them, but make sure you note if you need to pay that commercial licensing fee I mentioned. It can be really inexpensive; I paid $15 for mine, but in some cases, it can be expensive. This might be the case for example, if you’re choosing to license a Google font. There are plenty of font websites you can browse through as well to get ideas and inspiration. I like dafont the most.
Fifth: Your color selection. Colors should also match your brand personality. When you’re selecting your colors, I like to do a little bit of research. I look to see what’s trending in fashion and interior design for color palettes. A lot of times, this is where I draw inspiration from. I also like to do some research and see what’s trending in the industry I’m designing for. Sometimes I like to fall in line with what’s trendy, but more often than not, I try to stay away from being an exact replica of everyone else around me so I don’t blend in too much. I also try to blend some classic colors with more modern colors so that my color palette doesn’t become dated too quickly. I’m a big fan of cooler color palettes, but after learning this from other experienced designers, I always try to have at least one or two warm colors to use. Something else I’d recommend is having a range of colors for your brand so that your logo can use any of them based on the color of the background. If you don’t have some warm and cool colors to choose from as well as a range of light and darks, you might find it hard to design around your logo.
Whether or not you’re working with a branding expert or simply crowd-sourcing. Understanding these five key principles is going to ensure that you end up with a logo you can use for the long haul. It doesn’t mean your logo will never change. In fact, most brands do a refresh at some point to modernize their logos or reflect changes in the business, but you don’t want to have to do that on a regular basis.
After you’ve selected your logo, you’ll want to make sure that the person providing it gives you several different versions and formats. You’ll want a black and white version as well as a full color version so that you have options when it comes to placing your logo into different settings. If you advertise, sometimes your ad will only be printed in black and white. It’s nicer to provide the publication with the logo already in your preferred color rather than have them print a color logo in black and white. This will maintain the highest quality of your logo possible. You’ll want to think through if you need your logo in any other single colors as well if you’re not getting the native files from the designer. For example, I have three different color options in addition to my black and white: an all purple, a full color that’s blue and purple, and an all-blue option.
You’ll also want your logo in multiple formats also known as the file type: an EPS, a JPEG, and a PNG. These are the most common. An EPS, also known as an illustrator format or vector image, allows your logo to be scaled as large or as small as necessary without becoming distorted or pixelated. Think, as large as a billboard or as small as the words on a pen. Whenever you’re working with a vendor who does print, this is the type of logo you want to give them. A PNG logo is going to be useful online because it has a transparent background and a JPEG is good to have on hand for things like word documents or programs that don’t accept an EPS or PNG file.
You may also want to ask for some variations, a wide version where your logo is in a straight line. A stacked version where any imagery and words form more of a block and a small version where you pull out just one part of your logo. For me, that would be using just the “A” out of authentic. Having these variations means that any time someone designs something for you, they have options to make your logo and brand look the best in the given space. For example, if you were placing online ads, the designer will have the ability to choose the logo that works for the size of the ad. These can be pretty small, so your small logo might serve you better than one of your other versions. Make sure though, that if you have multiple variations, you know which one is your primary logo—the one you’ll use the most often and will be your first pick before you move on to a variation. You want to use your primary logo 99% of the time and the variations only when necessary.
There’s a couple more things I’d like to mention here when it comes to your logo. And they’re pet peeves of mine. When you’re thinking about a logo, resist the urge to design one yourself in Microsoft Word. You won’t have it in any useful format and it will always have a white square behind it. Plus, as soon as you try to enlarge it, it will become pixelated. Also, don’t allow too many variations of your logo by swapping out elements. For example, if you’re a bakery that has a whisk in your logo, don’t continuously swap out the whisk for some other baking utensil. It will create confusion to your customers and they won’t recognize you as quickly as they would if your logo stays consistent. Another pet peeve of mine is when I see business change part of their logo for things like holidays. If you have an ‘I’ in your name, and you dot it with a heart one month, a shamrock the next and a raindrop the next, it cheapens the quality of your logo and brand.
While we’re talking about logos, can we take a small little detour to mention a few of the same principles you can use when naming your business? Sometimes these two things happen pretty close together, so I felt it was worth mentioning. When you’re naming your business, keep the second and third principles of logo selection in mind: what do you need to communicate and what’s your brand personality. Ideally, your business name should give potential customers a clue about what you do. It should also convey your brand personality. Other things you’ll want to keep in mind is spelling: I’m never a fan of phonetic spellings for business names because it’s confusing. Am I searching “Custom Paintings by Katlynn” with a c? No? It’s a K in custom. Ok, I’m probably not going to remember that. Think carefully about numbers. I’m not saying they’re a no-no, but keep in mind that you’ll have to do some extra educating to let your customers know if they’re searching for 402 marketing with actual numbers vs. spelling them out.
***return to topic***
Ok, thanks for indulging my little side note there. As you can see, there’s some very critical principles you need to consider when choosing your logo. Your assignment this week is to get familiar with them and do some inspirational research to figure out what style of logo you like. It’s always really helpful when you’re working with a branding or design professional when you come with some inspiration. Likely, these people will have some questions they ask you up front to help distill what’s in your head into something they can use to create from, but I know I always appreciate when my clients have pictures or examples they can share with me that gives me a literal picture of their style. I won’t copy any one style, but I like having a direction to go in. It reduces the amount of design time and re-work that I have to do to achieve what they have in mind. It doesn’t even have to be fancy examples. Google images of logos they like with a thought or two about why they like it, gives me plenty of insight.
If you’re looking for logo inspiration, check out my Pinterest profile: @authenticbranding. I have an entire board dedicated to logos because they’re one of my favorite things to look at.
So, there you have it. Five principles to consider when creating a logo. Go out and find your inspiration! When you do, drop a comment on social media and tell me about it! As always, if you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, please like, rate and review Startup Marketing to help other women like you find it. Until next time!