You are not an idiot.
Let’s start there.
Whether it’s well-designed or it’s rubbish, your branding will be how your audience remembers you. Establishing a professional, recognizable brand identity not only impacts first impressions, but builds trust with potential clients and distinguishes you from your competition. You know this. So we don’t have to sell you on the importance of producing a logo that represents your business and establishes your brand. You know better than the folks that use tacky clip art, unlicensed/non-commercial fonts, and other do-it-yourself faux-pas.
What you may not know, however, is that there are the techniques and nuances that are common among the most effective logos and branding design strategies. Lucky for you, this isn’t a skill set that you have to learn to run your business. You be the boss. Let us be the designer.
In addition to your logo, things like color palettes, commercial fonts, use of all-caps/small-caps, text format, and other design factors make up an overall Design Strategy Guide. We develop this strategy with you and apply it to your website(s), email signatures, peripheral sites/applications, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube), and even print media. We’ll take care of the design, the details, and the minutia. You take care of business.
Please enjoy a few quick quips about Logo Design and establishing your Brand Identity:
GO EASY ON THE METAPHORS
If your logo needs to be deciphered, or has an elaborate back story, there’s probably little chance that it will communicate the essence of your company, service, or product effectively. Symbolism, at times, can be quite effective. Just remember that your logo should fit into the general theme and philosophy of your brand, but doesn’t have to tell the whole story.
A LOGO DOESN’T HAVE TO CONVEY WHAT YOUR COMPANY DOES
More often than not, logos of successful businesses don’t actually communicate what the company does. Think McDonald’s Golden Arches. No hamburgers. Think the Nike swoosh. No sneakers or golf shirts. Think the FedEx logo. No trucks or planes (although—in a cool typographical coincidence—there’s a “hidden” arrow). You get the idea.
Logos appear in a variety of different sizes and mediums, and usually on the smallish side. Overly complex logos tend to become unreadable when appearing in smaller formats, e.g. email footer, business cards, fax headers, etc. But don’t forget this thing may end up on a large poster, banner, sign, or billboard; logos with low resolution and detail look homemade and unprofessional when blown up. The key word here is “scalability.”
PLAY TO YOUR AUDIENCE
You want to like your logo. That’s given. This is also true of the overall style of your brand across the web. Your branding says something about you, your mission statement, even your philosophy. That said, factor in that your logo should appeal to your customers. It’s yours, true. But it’s for them.
Generally speaking, clip-art is typically not licensed for commercial use. But worse than that, it’s tacky. Just say no.
NO ‘PAPYRUS’ FONT
CHOOSE THE RIGHT TYPEFACE
Papyrus isn’t the only offender. There are many fonts that shouldn’t be utilized in your style guide for multiple reasons. Some—like Papyrus and Comic Sans—are just tacky fonts that should probably never be used. But you also need to consider if the typeface is appropriate for the subject, format and application. Does it reflect the mood, attitude, and personality of the business? Is the typeface technically and logistically appropriate for digital and print? Is it trendy or cliché? Does it complement supporting typefaces? Is it licensed for commercial use?
You’re smart. You’re not going to pay someone to do what you can do yourself. That said, there’s smart and there’s wise.
Do it yourself when you can, and pay someone when you can’t.
Trust the tradesman you pay for the skills you lack. A wise master does not spend his money on expert mechanics, engineers, lawyers, cooks, tailors, and designers, only to then spend his energy trying to change their minds.
That doesn’t mean the designer is always right. Always opinionated, yes. Almost-always right, maybe. But if he’s worth what he’s charging you, here’s the formula for success: Express your needs and wants, collaborate, confer, and confirm. But once you feel heard—once you feel that your designer has an understanding of your vision—it’s time to hand off your baby. And that takes guts.
Nothing is free. Every individual component of your success will cost you—at a minimum—either money or time. Both, in most cases.
But you know that. I’m not talking to the business owner who thinks a free website will “probably work just fine,” and doesn’t realize the adverse affects of low-budget design on establishing brand trust with consumers. I’m talking to the savvy entrepreneur who knows the value of a brand, and who is willing to pay an expert to help them establish theirs.
The key is for each party to know their role. The boss is not the designer. And the designer is not the boss. There’s balance to be had somewhere in there, and it comes when all parties play to their strengths.