Simple Advice on How to Make a Good Logo

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It can be as simple as Nike’s swoosh or as literal as Apple Computer’s apple with a bite taken out of it. A logo becomes a representation of your business identity in picture form. It is the icon of your brand. Once you roll out a logo and your customers begin to associate it with your business, it should remain a constant within your business for years and years to come. In order to create the right logo the first time, here is some simple advice on logo types, tips on what makes a good logo and how to actually create a logo.

The Three Logo Types

  • Font-based: This type of logo is basically letters done in a custom font style. Some examples of this type of logo are Facebook, Twitter, and Sony.
  • Literal Illustration: This is taking what a particular business does, and incorporating it into the logo. For instance, if you were a ballet teacher, you could have a simple illustration of ballet shoes alongside your company name.
  • Abstract Graphic: This is a picture or symbol that doesn’t have any existing meaning. Nike’s swoosh is the perfect example of this type of logo.

What Makes a Good Logo

  • Simple & Clean: Less is more when it comes to logo design. An over-complicated design or a symbol cluttered with layers will be hard to duplicate and may not be as memorable. Good logos look fresh and simple. Another thing to consider when creating a logo is the number of colors included. The more colors you have in your logo the more expensive it gets to print. A nice rule of thumb is to keep a logo to two or three colors (including black as one of the colors).
  • Easy to Remember: Customers don’t have much time. You want to provide them with an easy-to-remember, unique symbol to help them quickly associate with your business.
  • Not Trendy: Once you decide on a logo, you shouldn’t change it. It should be able to stand the test of time for the duration of your company. So it is a good idea to stay clear of those design choices that may be fleeting -- like the 1980’s neon madness.
  • Versatile: You will need a logo that looks good in black & white as well as color. Additionally, you will want a logo that can be easily printed on anything – t-shirts, mugs, vehicles, trophies, business cards – you name it. Of course, you may not need those things for your business, however, it is better to leave your options open. Avoid lengthy horizontal logos, which can be difficult to fit on various projects. This type of logo can leave you constantly frustrated.
  • Fitting & Appropriate: Think about your business type and industry. Create a logo that is appropriate in those areas. For instance, if you are in the finance business, you will want to have a conservative and professional feel to your logo. If you are a professional clown, obviously you can go in a more playful direction. A nice way to determine what is appropriate for your business is to research what some of your competitors' logos look like.
  • Avoid Clip Art Where Possible: It might feel like the right thing to do, but clip art is rarely the right direction to take when creating a logo. Why? It can look hokey, cheap and careless. You want your business to convey the exact opposite of those things. This will be important to keep in mind if using a free logo provider. You will want to dig through the options the online service providers and try and find something as far from a generic image as possible.

Three Ways to Create Your Own Logo

  1. Hire a creative designer to create a custom logo: This can range from $50 - $150 per hour, and because it is initial branding work, firm’s or creatives typically tend to charge higher rates. One firm I worked with would charge a flat $750 fee on top of project hours when creating any logo. This typical because logo creation requires much more time and creative discovery for the designer. When is this option preferable? If you are a small business owner with aspirations of growing into a long-term and sustainable business, I would recommend going this route. Another reason to consider this option would be if you were planning to do a lot of advertising with signs or vehicle decals, i.e. for a landscaping business. Logos are the symbol of your business and you want something simple and unique. You don’t want your customers running into a logo down the road that looks similar to yours.
  2. Use an inexpensive or free online logo maker tool: There are many online services that will give you the tools to create a simple logo in just a few quick steps. When is this option preferable over a custom designed logo? The number one reason would be a lack of cash – custom logos can run into the thousands of dollars. Another indicator would be if you are “dabbling” in a business with limited amounts of transactions or clients, and no plan for an aggressive growth strategy. There would be no reason to throw out a lot of cash on a custom logo until you are really serious about advancing your business. Some businesses which may fit this profile could be a home childcare business, someone who designs and sells crafts on Etsy or someone who teaches or tutors lessons.
  3. Design something yourself: This, of course, would depend on whether or not you know a little something about design software. If you don’t know much about Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop or know nothing about words like high resolution, .jpg, vector files, or .eps – I would stick with option one or two. The reason? Your logo needs to not only fit the criteria above in terms of style, but it also needs to be created in proper formats and file types so it can be reproduced without looking blurry.