Let’s Start With Basic Questions
What Is a Logo?
A logo, or logotype, is the graphic representation of a trademark. It’s set in a particular font and arranged in a particular way. The size, shape, color and typeface should be distinct—especially compared to the logos of competitors.
A good logo has immediate brand recognition. It can communicate trustworthiness and excellence and inspire admiration and loyalty.
Why Do I Need a Logo?
The logo is one of the most important design elements on your website for several reasons. It’s the foundation of your online brand; it will appear in the header of your website, on banners, e-book covers and so on. Secondly, a professional-looking logo gives your website credibility. Thirdly, a remarkable logo lingers in the minds of visitors; they’ll remember your website and feel keen to return.
OK! I Need a Logo. What Now?
Below are a few ways to work on a logo.
1. Design Your Own
If you have a knack for designing, have some skill in Photoshop or Illustrator and can access online tutorials, then you can design your own logo. It’s the most economical way to go, but the best part is that you have direct control over the outcome. The drawbacks? It will consume a lot of your precious time, and the logo might not look professional.
2. Buy a Pre-Designed Logo
Consider this if you want to keep your costs relatively low. Find one that suits your needs and order it. Pre-designed logos come personalized with your company name, and they are sold only once. This is a hassle-free way to find a logo that suits you.
3. Use a Template Logo
The cheapest option—and the fastest and easiest—is to use a template logo and insert your name. Many templates are available online, and you can get one ready in just minutes. It’s easy and cheap, but it might not be the best option for your business, because many companies will have the same logo design as yours, which will make you less memorable.
4. Organize a Contest
Issue a logo design challenge. Decide what price you’re willing to pay, specify the kind of logo you need, and run a live competition in which designers compete for the prize. Give feedback, rate each entry, and once you’re happy with one you can award the prize and start using the logo.
5. Hire a Designer or Company
This last method is the traditional one. Until some years ago, if you wanted a logo you would have had to hire a professional designer or firm. Today there are other options, such as those listed above, but the original method is still around and kicking. It’s also costly.
Designers are reachable online for a variety of jobs, including logo and website design and advertising. The biggest benefit of working with an online-based designer (i.e. freelancer) is the lower cost. Office-based designers usually have staff salaries and bills to cover, which increases the cost of work; freelancers don’t have a staff or pay for office maintenance, so they can offer more for less.
To hire a designer online, start by searching for “logo designer online” or “freelance designer” in one of the major search engines. Among the many results, choose a few that fit your price range and style, and then email them, mentioning the package you’re interested in. Confirm the terms of the deal prior to making your payment.
Once the designer is contracted, they’ll prepare a basic design. After you approve it, you’ll pay for the design, and then it will be sent to you via email and probably by post (usually on a CD). Having your logo designed online is quick, easy and cost-effective.
What About a Design Contest?
Business owners on a tight budget could look for discounts, but as with any bargain, one must weigh the benefits against the drawbacks.
Small-business owners could write a blog post announcing their requirements for a logo (symbols, colors and other specifics) and inviting designers to participate. Base the contest on your requirements, which could include budget, standard, premium or custom options. Quote prices based on how many submissions you expect to receive; 75 to 80% of your quote will be the winner’s cash prize, and the rest would be the fee for the organizer.
Sponsoring an online contest is also a great way to increase traffic on your website. Designers will learn about your website and business in the process of participating in the contest.
Pros of Design Contest
- It’s cost-effective.
A design firm or freelancer would likely spend a great deal of time researching your target audience and competitors, which would be costly. With 99 Designs, though, you can get a logo for as little as $295.
- It’s simple and saves time.
With a design firm, you have to make appointments, costing both time and travel. With 99 Designs, the client simply posts their criteria and then chooses which logo they like best.
- Pick and choose.
You’ll have a number of designs to choose from, and all of them will meet the criteria you set.
Cons of Design Contest
- Critics believe that contests devalue designers.
“A lot of designers find speculative work unethical and think it cheapens the industry,” says Morgan Morcani, a freelance designer based in San Francisco. Critics believe that most designers who participate in such contests end up doing work for nothing.
- Quality could be compromised.
Established professional designers don’t pay much attention to contests, so business owners might get amateurish work.
- There won’t be a relationship.
You’ll miss out on building a rapport with a designer over time and working with someone who can truly cater to your needs.
Should I Design My Own Logo?
When they want a logo for their business, a lot of people start by searching for free or cheap design software to do the job. There’s nothing wrong with that if you can get quality software for an affordable price, but there are benefits and drawbacks to every product. Research the software first, otherwise your brand might pay the price in the end.
With all of the advanced features these days, software makes it easy for designers to create eye-catching logos. But you’ll have to learn how to use it first. And even when you do learn it, the software won’t be creative for you. Knowing how to use the software is not enough: you also need a sense of design and branding.
A professional designer, on the other hand, can bring a ton of benefits. They will be able to guide you on technical and professional points. They are adept at researching the logos of your competitors. And their creativity makes them more qualified than you to create a powerful brand identity.
Having gone through the pros and cons of designing your own logo, you can now make a decision.
Six Tips on Designing Your Own Logo
Logo design begins with a great idea and requires creativity and skill to bring it to life. Thought and planning are important, too. Keep the following things in mind during the planning and execution.
Start by thinking about your company’s goals and then visualizing possible themes. For example, a security company would want to convey trust, strength and reliability. With forethought, research and planning, an appropriate symbol that instantly identifies the company and communicates the product or service will emerge. A solid concept is vital to a successful design and should always be the priority.
Be aware of trends in the world of design so that you can stay fresh and innovate.
A logo should be versatile in its uses but strong enough to serve as the cornerstone of your corporate identity. This means it must be compatible with a wide variety of formats and processes while maintaining its own integrity. The logo should work on business cards, pens and large billboards, but also look fabulous on websites and other pixel-based media. Test your logo at a monitor resolution of 72 pixels per inch, at about an inch wide, to see whether problems pop up.
Never underestimate the power of color. Experiment with various combinations. The colors need to be appropriate to your marketing strategy and business. For example, using red for a dentist’s office would be a bad idea because it represents blood and danger. Instead, choose a professional calming color like blue.
The most important part of the logo is the text; the company name must make the right impact on the target audience. Do research to avoid potential copyright and trademark issues; make sure the logo is not being used by another company (a quick Internet search will help you figure it out).
Just remember, Great logos are:
- 1. Comprehensible,
- 2. Memorable,
- 3. Effective in both color and grayscale,
- 4. Versatile in use (i.e. they work at whatever size),
- 5. Relevant (to the industry).
Should I Hire a Professional?
Platforms that equip you to design your own logo are available. Apparently all you need is software, creativity and motivation. It seems simple, but is it? Not according to me.
A professional designer has the expertise and skill needed to represent your business in a unique and original way. A professional will conduct market research, analyze the market and then create the logo—and it will be something you couldn’t make on your own with any kind of software.
A professional designer will be objective, whereas you might be emotionally attached to the company’s history and goals. That passion could jeopardize the result. A third party won’t get personally caught up in it.
A good website is like a presentable office for an online business: you can’t succeed without one. And an effective brand eventually wins the trust of the market: don’t compromise yours.
I Hired a Professional Designer. What Now?
Business owners need to know how to survive in a competitive market. A well-designed logo is probably one of the most important elements of a corporate identity. Put as much thought into choosing a logo as you do into choosing the designer. The logo has to be describable, memorable, scalable and effective in both color and grayscale.
A professional designer will fulfill these criteria and save you time. Choosing a designer can be time-consuming, though. Look out for the following key aspects.
Quality of Past Work
The best way to evaluate a designer is to review their work. The first thing to check out on a designer’s website is the samples section. Check the colors, shapes and layouts of the samples. Logo samples give you a glimpse of a designer’s skill and sensibility. But beware of designers who feature other people’s work just to snag clients (which some have been caught doing).
Can you reach your designer by phone or email? If they’re local, can you visit them? The online industry is growing, and face-to-face meetings are becoming less common. How will you communicate? Before any money changes hands, establish a communication process, and know your designer’s availability—especially across time zones.
References and Testimonials
Always look at a design company’s prior work. Request references, and ensure that you read the testimonials of previous clients.
A designer can’t create a logo that meets your needs unless they ask you questions. They’ll likely ask about your company history, the target market, your competitive advantages, your goals and the service or product itself.
The Design Process
It goes without saying that when you spend a lot of your hard-earned money, you want to know exactly what you’re paying for. A professional designer should know about copywriting, industry norms, market conditions and competitors before they begin designing the logo.
Quality work takes time, so discuss expectations with the designer at the outset. Extending deadlines without prior notice does not reflect well on a company. Don’t be fooled by false promises—and don’t make them.
Before finalizing the contract, determine the refund policy. US firms usually mention their refund policy in their “terms of service,” so look there first. Good firms are confident in their work and don’t hesitate to be forthright about their policies.
A high price does not guarantee high quality. A respectable firm delivers good quality at a competitive price.
Having discussed the pros and cons of both designing your own logo and hiring a professional for the job, it’s important to repeat that quality is paramount. As in any other field, design requires certain skills, and one must respect professionals who have those skills. Your logo sets you apart from competitors. It’s worth having a good one.