How-To

The Logo: Concept To Completion

The Concept

First and foremost, the concept for your logo should begin with what you want it say about your company. It can be as simple as a house for real estate, or perhaps a car for a car dealer, or maybe even a computer for technical services; it can be that simple. It could also be something very abstract that may represent the philosophy behind your company, but don’t make it too complicated. And make sure that for your audience (where you are directing your products/services), the logo is appropriate, whether young and hip, or classy and sophisticated. What you do have to remember is to think this concept through thoroughly! Sometimes, it isn’t always easy to tell what a company is or does solely based on a particular image that is the logo.

A company that deals with more than one business/industry would prefer to have a more generic logo; something that can relate to many industries/businesses. The combination of geometric patterns and shapes are quite popular; for example, different size circles integrated with different lines that curve, something attractive to the eye. But do keep in mind and ask yourself whether or not this concept is going to be effective and relevant in 5 or 10 years, and perhaps longer.

Changing logos once a company is established is sometimes quite difficult, especially when customers are already familiar with that particular company; a good idea is to pick a logo that can be somewhat flexible; being too complacent isn’t always a good idea. But, there are some companies who have enjoyed keeping their image the same over the years, such as Kentucky Fried Chicken. Colonel Sanders has been K.F.C.’s man since the company was first established in 1952.

Nike is another perfect example; everyone knows immediately what the Nike logo looks like. A few companies, however, have changed their logos, but did so with success. Pepsi took one of the biggest risks and drastically changed their image and logo, but it didn’t fail them. Coca-Cola changed their brand to Coke in the 1980s, and did so with success. Now everyone just says “Coke.”

When, and IF, you feel that your logo could use a little “freshening up,” here are some tips to help you make the best possible choice: Your logo should represent the three key elements that make up, not only a credible logo, but a high quality one as well:

  • Does your logo say that your company is an expert in its field?

  • Is your logo “avant garde,” symbolizing a “contemporary” or “forward-thinking” look?

  • Is the message made clear? What you want your consumers to think about your company?

If you can say yes to all of this, then you have no need to change you logo. The problem with trying to revamp your company’s image is that you may lose your supporters; your clients that are familiar with who you are and what you represent. But cleaning up your logo and updating it is a way of changing without doing too much.

If you don’t have time to design a logo yourself, there are so many options. You can hire freelance graphic designers, or there are companies whose sole purpose is to create logos for businesses, including small business, and many are reasonably priced. A good place to start would be the The Logo Company (www.thelogocompany.net). They offer three design choices for only $149 and can produce them in about 3 days or so. You can also check out some of their ideas on logo design: The Logo Company

Another option is Logo Works (www.logoworks.com), although a little more expensive, they are a very trusted source for logo design for small businesses. They offer high quality company logos for a reasonable price, especially when competitors charge upwards of $2,000-$10,000. Logo Works offers “The Silver Logo Package,” which includes: 2 designers, 4 logo concepts, and 2 revision rounds for $299. They also have higher priced packages: “The Gold Logo Package” for $399, which includes 6 initial concepts, 3 designers, and unlimited revisions. The highest priced package is $599, “The Platinum Logo Package” which includes: 10 initial concepts, 5 designers, and unlimited revisions. If interested, check: Logo Works

There are also several software programs that can help you achieve a logo all on your own! AAA Logo offers a good priced package, and you can start with a free trial before purchasing. The full version is $49.95.

Taglines: Be Careful With What You Say

A tagline is a great idea because in just a few words, you relay more effectively what your company does and what your company is all about. BUT, keep in mind how you word it, and make sure that it can translate into foreign languages the same as it does in English. Here are some examples of companies who didn’t take this crucial point into consideration:

  • Pepsi’s tagline is “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation.” When this logo was introduced into Taiwan, it translated, “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead.”

  • General Motors introduced its car: the Chevy Nova. Well, in South America, “no va,” translated into Spanish means “it won’t go,” or “it doesn’t run.”

  • KFC’s tagline: “finger-lickin’ good.” In Chinese: “eat your fingers off.”

As you can see, while those companies are still successful, their taglines didn’t translate quite the same; in fact they didn’t translate at all and actually sent a bad message. So make sure to keep that in mind when coming up with a tagline.

The Design

Ten tips to put you on the right track:

  • Less Is More: Simplicity Is Bliss

Probably the best advice that can be given: simplicity is the way to go. A complicated, overly graphic design can be difficult to reproduce and maintain, but you can also fail to capture an audience. Your logo should need no explanation, so try to make it that way.

Sometimes when a logo isn’t working, the idea to add more graphics and elements may initially be your reaction. But, don’t start adding and adding because most of the time, you forget to take away. Best advice: Start again, perhaps with a new concept or remove any distractive and unattractive features that your logo might have.

But a simple logo is not so easy to achieve as one may think because you don’t want the logo to be too conservative and boring. So, your best bet would be to leave the concept and the actual designing process to those who know it the best: the design professionals.

  • Entice Your Audience

A good logo should be well enough designed and thought out to entertain and engage your audience. Don’t be too literal; the idea is not to spell everything out for them, but give them the gist. You want them to be able to discover the meaning and the intention of your logo for themselves. By doing so, you can draw more of an audience because they are curious as to what you do. By making it not too quizzical, but just enough, you can leave a lasting impression on your audience and therefore, draw them in.

But don’t make it a puzzle game for them; to much distraction or confusion will actually work against you. Too much obscurity will make the message that you are trying to put across lost, and you can say goodbye to your potential client. Today’s consumer culture is somewhat accustomed to extremely stimulating and intense media, so you cannot be too demanding on your audience.

  • Think Long Term: Longevity Is Key!

Most importantly, think about the future when designing a logo. Durability and longevity are crucial elements in this process. Of course, it is impossible to see into the future, although some feel they have that “special power.” Realistically, you need to picture yourself and your company years and years down the road; think about the products you may offer and which ones you may not have anymore, or any services. THINK! Even the strongest of companies update their logo every 10-15 years to keep up with the changing times, but they are usually subtle changes, ones that are not too noticeable but enough to represent the times appropriately.

However, for small, start-up companies (which many are), it is not the worst thing in the world to change your logo after only a few years. You are still adjusting, changing, and evolving, so it may be necessary to make a few changes to your logo from time to time. On the other hand, it is great for a logo to push through it all and make it work.

  • Choose Vector: The Better Choice

Detailed illustrations, complex designs in color and 3d, are always tempting when designing a logo. You want your logo to be cool, artistic, innovative, avant garde, etc. But, your best bet will be clean, crisp lines along with a limited color palette. A well made vector-based logo is the way to go, and it can provide you with just the right amount of design aesthetic and balance that is needed in a good logo. Play around with the vector tools and make your logo something that you are proud of; don’t make it look like something you will regret later.

  • Be A Chameleon: Adapt To Your Environment When Change Occurs

Change often occurs when you least expect it, so a good idea is to EXPECT it. Don’t be surprised when change occurs, adapt to it, blend in, change and react accordingly. Your logo needs to reflect this. Be flexible with your logo and make it adaptable to as many businesses/industries as possible! Be able to connect with different markets because this is how you gain clients/customers.

Ideally with a small start-up, the logo-type and icon should be designed at the same time. This can enable you to have options, using either the logo as a stand-alone image, or use it in combination with the type-font name as well. In some cases, you may only need to use the icon, or sometime just the type-font. This gives you versatility and the ability to make changes accordingly, if changes are necessary.

  • Keep The Memory Alive

A great logo will stay very much alive in one’s subconsciousness. To be able to keep a logo in one’s memory, it needs to be simple and easy to recall from memory. Simple lines and simple text (if any) will be the best idea. Ask people what they think about your logo. Focus groups and polls were invented for a reason, so don’t be afraid to use them.

  • Be Relevant To Your Company

Its one thing to create a memorable logo, its another thing to make your customers start to think about what you offer. Make sure that your logo relates to your business in some way; in some way relates to the products/services that you sell. As the saying goes: “The monkey can sell just about anything from cigarettes to cell phones, but there’s a limit! Right?”

  • Color Palette

Colors are probably the most important element in a logo because it catches the most attention. Colors are wonderful tools to elicit emotions from anyone. There are actual studies that try to interpret what a specific color may mean, and personal interpretations vary according to gender, age, and cultural demographics. Your target market should come into play on this one; consider them carefully when choosing colors.

Just like in fashion, colors follow trends. Following current trends is a good idea, but try to keep your selection of colors down to select few; perhaps two to three. If you want to increase production costs and potentially lose customers, then go ahead and choose the rainbow as your color palette. Otherwise, be wise when making these decisions. A good idea to make more out of your logo is to change its colors on different things, like stationary, business cards, etc. Just be careful.

  • Stand Out: Be the pink elephant in a white room

Uniqueness is key; it makes you stand apart from the masses. You want to be easily identifiable in a world of millions, especially when it comes to your competitors. You want to be the company that is chosen over the others. Market research is the very first thing that should be done before any logo design or business plans come into play. You want to understand the trends, styles, and changes that are current in your industry, so make a logo accordingly.

  • Versatility: Make It Work

Above all, a good logo design should be versatile. It should be able to portray a consistent image and ideology across all business and marketing materials, including signs, business cards, stationary, product lines, and websites. Your logo should be able to transfer perfectly from a coffee mug to a pen. Also, make sure that your logo works with black and white: not everyone can see in color and not everyone has a color printer.

Building brand recognition is your goal, along with brand loyalty. In order to do so, follow these tips to the best of your ability, and market your logo and image consistently and as often as possible.