You’ve finally taken the plunge and decided to start your own business! After doing all the legwork to set it up and coming up with the perfect name, now it’s time to think about your logo. This is big. A logo is the face of your business’s brand and one of the first things customers will see. In general, a logo functions to identify a brand quickly and easily. It should appeal to your business’s target audience and communicate something important about your brand. Having a logo for your business is a given. But what makes a logo good?
Our Golden Rules of Logo Creation
We’re not here to get into the nitty, gritty design choices such as how many colors to use or whether you should pick a serif or sans serif font. While these are important decisions to make eventually, before you get into any of that you should know, or at least be aware of, the “golden rules of logo design” as we call them. Take a second to think of some of the most famous and recognizable logos that you love or that come to mind first. We guarantee they all follow these major rules no matter what style the logo is or what industry it comes from.
So, here are five critical considerations that you should keep at the forefront of your mind when creating your small business logo.
- Logos should be versatile.
- Logos should be scalable.
- Logos should be simple.
- Logos should be original.
- Logos should represent.
1. Logos Should Be Versatile
You never know where you’ll want to stick your logo in the future. Could someone easily embroider your logo onto clothing or textile items? Could you commission someone to wood burn it into a custom cutting board? You never know when the need will arise, so try to imagine as many situations as possible where you might want your logo. This usually means that things like gradients and fancy textures such as watercolor will be unsuitable for a logo. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, but in general know that if your logo would look good in just black or just white, it’s probably going to look good in any situation.
2. Logos Should Be Scalable
This one falls under the versatile category, but it’s so important that we’re giving it its own section. If they say “location, location, location” in sales, then in the logo design business it’s “scalability, scalability, scalability.” Your logo should look good big on a storefront window or a billboard. Conversely, it should look just as amazing small. We’re talking printed on a postage stamp, pen, chapstick, or even just a digital ad with limited space. While it can be tempting to add as many elements as possible to your logo, try to limit it to two (or even better, one) of them. If you think your logo needs a rainbow, two robots, and a ball of yarn (hey, we’re not here to judge), try sizing it down as small as it can go before you start losing detail to get an idea of how visually limiting it is.
Our own logo is very simplistic and can be seen even in very small sizes. For even more adaptability, we can use just the icon when there is very limited space, such as with a favicon.
3. Logos Should Be Simple
This goes together with the scalability issue. You’ve heard the phrase “less is more.” The same thing applies to logos. Typically, simple logos tend to pack a punch and leave a lasting impression on audiences. Consider Nike, Chanel, and McDonald’s. All very different businesses and logos, yet iconic in their simplicity and even more importantly, their recognizability.
4. Logos Should Be Original
Your logo should be unique to your business because your business is unique! You want your logo to represent your brand and help you stand out from the crowd. By using imagery that is already available (such as using a template logo or clip art) you run the risk that your logo is extremely similar to something that’s already out there. Plus, how many famous logos that use clip art come to mind?
A secondary concern about being original is the legal ramifications. It is important not to use any copyrighted elements. That means you can’t just Google any random illustration and use it in your logo. If you decide to use more generic stock vectors and illustrations elements or if you’re using any typefaces, make sure that the licensing level is appropriate for commercial use, not just personal use. Downloadable font sites like DaFont and Font Space offer many great typefaces for free, but a large majority of them are suitable only for personal use. Set your filter settings to commercial license to ensure that you’re only looking at options you can use.
In this custom logo we did for a small business bakery, we steered away from clip art and stock elements entirely by creating an original custom typeface.
5. Logos Should Represent
Your logo should represent your business. This can be done abstractly by evoking a certain feel, or you might allude to important aspects of your small business. You can even get literal, like the hamburger joint that has a hamburger in its logo. But you don’t have to. Sometimes a symbol is enough. Sometimes even just a typeface is enough. Don’t feel like you must include something that shows customers what you do. If you’re a clothing company, you don’t have to include clothes. If you’re a coffee shop, you don’t have to use a cup of coffee. This is especially true if the type of business is reflected in your name and therefore your logo. For example, X Photography or Y Salon. Adding in a camera or a blow dryer respectively might just be unnecessary.
Take a look at this behind-the-scenes glimpse of the subtle meaning behind our logo!
In addition to ensuring that our logo was simple, versatile, scalable, and original, we put a lot of thought into correlating it with the meaning behind our brand name.
This is the same process we go through for each of our clients to ensure that they end up with a representative logo that really speaks to their target audience about who their brand is.
Getting Down to Design
So those are our five most important rules to consider when it comes to what a logo should be, and when we say important, we mean absolute must-haves. If a design doesn’t have one of these five critical considerations for an effective business logo, it’s not a good logo.
That’s why our advice is to create a logo that you love the first time around. If you want, you can definitely design it yourself. However, if you decide your logo design isn’t meeting your expectations, invest in your small business and hire it out. Custom logos can range anywhere from $5 on sites like Etsy and Fiverr to upwards of $5,000 from big-time professional designers. While it’s not necessary to spend thousands of dollars, we want to offer a word of caution about going for the cheapest option. Most of the time, the resulting logo is not fully customized to your brand and needs. Often the final creation does not even meet all our five critical considerations for an effective business logo. If a logo doesn’t meet these golden rules, it’s not a good logo, and more money and effort will be spent down the road to fix it when your small business is growing. Who has time for all that? If you decide to hire out your logo creation, research your options and find a professional logo designer that can translate your vision into a fully customized logo.
Watch out for our next blog on how to find the right logo designer for you, including what to look for and questions to ask. Interested in hiring us as your logo designers? Reach out and send us a message and we’d be happy to do a free consultation to determine if working with us is right for you!