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“I think I need a logo, so now what?” — Part 1 of 2

Monday, May 16th, 2011 by Mike Cheley

A guide to understanding the role of a logo and choosing a logo design service that’s right for your business

“Your logo is often the first impression made on a prospective customer. It’s on your sign, your business cards, your ads…it will literally be everywhere. If your logo isn’t making the right impression or is not resonating with your target audience, you could be hurting your business.”

Imagine for a moment that you’re thinking about having a logo created for your business. For the sake of argument, let’s also assume that you’re not a marketing specialist, advertising guru, or world?renowned graphic designer – and to top it all off, you don’t know a thing about the logo creation process. Where would you turn for guidance? Where would you start gathering the information you need to make an informed decision? Chances are good, before too long, you’d find yourself sitting in front of a computer searching every nook and cranny of cyber space for the Holy Grail of logo design.

On September 16, 2010 a Google Search produced 69,400,000 results for the search criteria “logo design service” – 14,700,000 results appeared for “logo design services” – “logo design agency” resulted in 8,430,000 results – and when the term “logo designers” was entered, 3,520,000 results were served up in a mere 0.19 seconds. Needless to say, unless your brain is a supercomputer, wading through 96 million search results is a daunting, if not impossible task – an abyss of information that’s likely to leave you baffled, confused and frustrated.

The purpose of this article is to empower you with information – to shed light on the role of a logo, its relationship to your brand, and what to things to consider when choosing a logo design service to fit your needs and budget.

So much more than a cool design and pithy words…

When it comes to setting up a business or establishing yourself as a professional in a particular field, you’ll inevitably reach a point in the planning process where you find yourself saying, “If I’m going to do this right, I need to have a logo.” The truth is, at the beginning, daydreaming about your logo can actually be quite fun. For some, it’s an opportunity to reignite a creative spark that once burned powerfully in fourth grade art class. For others, putting pencil to paper while playing with profoundly abstract phrases becomes a meditative business planning exercise – or taken to the other extreme, an acceptable form of procrastination.

Even the most savvy business people and well?educated entrepreneurs can fall prey to the temptation of “do it yourself logo?mania.” Symptoms of this avoidable, yet all too common self?induced illness include: (1) rushing to get a logo created, (2) cutting corners to save money in the short?term, (3) a belief that “if I’m good at ‘x’, I can make a silly logo,” and (4) treating a logo as an afterthought…the last piece of a successful marketing strategy.

 

Now, if you are or have experienced these symptoms in the past, don’t worry. Graphtek Interactive is here to help! A little information can go a long way toward alleviating these symptoms and getting you on the right track.

A logo is part of a bigger picture

Your logo is often the first impression made on a prospective customer. It’s on your sign, your business cards, your ads…it will literally be everywhere. If your logo isn’t making the right impression or is not resonating with your target audience, it could be hurting your business.

To truly embrace the importance of your logo, it’s vital to understand its relationship between your brand and your corporate identity. Too often, people incorrectly use the terms “logo”, “brand” and “corporate identity” interchangeably, when in fact, each term refers to distinct elements that should work together to create a bigger picture – a favorable perception of the business, products or services you wish to sell.

Let’s take a moment to briefly review each of these misunderstood terms and the relationships they share.

Brand: Think of a brand as a strategy that helps communicate your passion and expertise. Not defined by a CEO or Board of Directors, a brand is shaped by public perception. It’s influenced by positioning, messaging, voice, visual design and every other marketing practice online, offline or in person. At the end of the day, a brand is the culmination of all the thoughts, feelings, experiences and impressions people have with an organization, product or service.

Corporate Identity: Think of a corporate identity as part of the brand strategy. It’s the visual stuff, also referred to as visual devices, which remain consistent across a wide variety of mediums. The use of approved fonts, color palates, positioning requirements, layouts and copy follow specific creative guidelines. These rules help a company maintain a coherent, consistent and easily recognizable corporate identity.

Logo: A logo is an easily recognizable, reproducible design element. It’s the brand and corporate identity all rolled into one. A logo identifies a business, product or service in its simplest form. It’s a quick visual representation of a brand’s message. A well?designed logo should evoke some memory or emotion from the viewer depending on their relationship with the brand.

So class….what have we learned about a logo, a brand and a corporate identity? Let’s summarize:

Your brand is a strategy that helps you communicate your passion and expertise.

Your corporate identity is comprised of the visual aspects that form part of the overall brand.

Your logo is the quick visual representation of your brand that’s easy for clients and prospects to remember.

Together, all three, work to effectively communicate your message to a specific audience and visually attract more attention.

Setting expectations for your logo…

Now that we’ve been able to look at the strategic role of a logo a bit more closely, we can understand the pressures a logo has to live up to on a day?to?day basis. Given its hefty burden, it’s a good practice to set expectations for your logo before the design process begins.

You might be saying to yourself at this point, “I’m supposed to set expectations for my logo?” Yes you should! It seems silly, but as you’ll soon discover, getting a logo professionally created can be expensive. Prices can range anywhere from $29 to $10,000….even higher! (Don’t panic yet! Remember, this guide has been designed to help you find the logo design service that’s right for you.)

By setting expectations for your logo, you’ll be more prepared to make an informed decision when it comes time to choosing a service and pricing structure that works for your business and your budget.

Since your logo needs to provide a quick visual representation of your brand, your logo needs to:

1. Make an accurate, good first impression of your business

Think about it…before you get that first call or before you schedule your first face-to-face meeting, your logo has probably already been viewed by a prospective client. If your logo looks unprofessional or doesn’t accurately represent what you do or the services you provide, you could be losing business. After all, why would someone want to hire you, if their first impression falls short of anything other than professional?

2. Needs to be strong enough to endure and/or grow as your business grows

This is a great reason to make sure your logo works with your brand’s strategy. If your 5?year business plan includes an expansion of goods, products or services, you should take some time for strategic thinking…to think ahead. Ask yourself and your creative team, “What is it we can do with our logo to ensure it doesn’t become outdated as the business evolves?”

3. Not be a copy – it needs to be original and show professional integrity

Be innovative. After all, innovation is key to building a successful business – and staying in business for years to come. Originality and innovation are qualities that can help a brand stand apart from its competition. Demonstrating that you’ve taken the time to think about your business and how you want to visually represent your brand won’t go unnoticed.

4. Needs to stay consistent with your corporate identity

Following the guidelines of your corporate identity, the visual aspects that form part of your brand (typography, colors, artistic styles, etc.), will help current and prospective customers recognize your brand and its promise online, offline or in person. Staying consistent with your brand’s corporate identity will strengthen your brand’s recognition in the long run. Think about it for a second, would you be as eager to rush into a fast food restaurant with blue arches?

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