Tips on Getting a Logo Designed for your Business
This piece was originally published in the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce’s publication Business Matters Spring 08 issue.
How much does it cost to get a logo designed? In 1971, Carolyn Davidson designed the Nike “swoosh” for $35. Nowadays, you can find websites that will design your logo for as little as $50. Then there are the big branding firms that charge thousands of and believe it or not, the money is usually worth it. But that’s because you’re paying for things like legal research to see if a similar logo already exists; focus groups to see what people think of your logo or company; styleguides which serve as bibles on how to “apply” your new logo; trademarking, and of course there are the hundreds of billable hours for design time by “seasoned” and “award-winning” designers.
But if you’re a small business, you probably don’t need all that because 1) you’ll probably be doing business locally which means it wont matter if your logo looks a little like another company’s 5 states away. 2) your not going mass market, so you don’t have to worry about what focus groups 3) you won’t need a styleguide since your logo isn’t going to be used by thousands of employees in hundreds of offices worldwide, which means you can pretty much keep it consistent all by yourself.
So should you just pay some design student to do it for a hundred bucks or so? You could, but you’re taking the chance of getting a logo that may look good to you, but is actually poorly designed and not just for esthetic reasons, but for practical ones. There are a few rules to logo design that you probably want to follow if you’re planning to use it a lot or grow your business over several years:
1. A logo must look good in BLACK & WHITE before it looks good in color. Why? Because there may be times when all you can afford to print in is Black and White. A logo with 23 colors is going to look pretty bad on photocopies. Doesn’t mean you can’t have color; just make sure the Black & White version looks as good as the color version. And it’s probably a good idea to limit it to two colors. three at the most. No, just two. Unless your company name has the word “rainbow” in it or your business involves children.
2. A logo should NOT be intricate. Sure that fancy decorative lace pattern on your logo looks good all blown up on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. But how does it hold up on a 3 x 2 business card? Can you even tell what it is? Can your printer even print that small? Simpler, bolder, better. Ixnay any small type on it too.
3. A logo should be designed on a VECTOR-based program like Adobe Illustrator. NOT PHOTOSHOP. Vector means lines along mathematically calculated points. Photoshop deals with pixels which are what digital photographs are made of. Ever try to enlarge a digital photo? It gets blurry, right? That’s called pixelation. Good luck putting your Photoshop logo on the side of your delivery truck! With Adobe Illustrator files, the image is represented by numbers, so that no matter what size, your logo looks sharp.
4. A logo should make sense. Whether it is a type treatment or a symbol, a logo should convey something about what your business is about. Someone should be able to look at it and say “Hey, you sell clocks!” Why make it hard for potential customers to know what it is you do? If your logo is just a pretty design, then it’s just taking up room and you wasted your money.
Many of these “logo design” websites, often disregard most if not all of the above. And if you already did get your logo designed by one of these places, then at least you only spent $50 or $100 dollars.
But how much should you pay for logo design? Do this: come up with a budget that you’re willing to spend (And don’t forget, you’ll still need to pay for printing) then find someone who’s previous logo designs you like and will work within your budget and who you trust and think you would enjoy working with.
So whether you hire some kid off craigslist for $100 or go with an experienced designer who’se charging upwards of a few thousand dollars, follow these rules and you can’t go wrong.