Okay MilSpouse Entrepreneurs, do you have a product idea or a business ready to launch and need that all important logo to get the ball rolling? If that’s you, stop right here and get my FREE (really, no strings guys) 6 Step Guide to Designing Successful Branding. I designed it specifically for you. Why would you not? In the meantime, I’ll jump ahead and talk about why you need to rethink this whole logo thing.
Simply put, your logo isn’t that important. Let me give that some context.
Your spouse has a rank. The rank has a name. It also comes with a symbol to identify them by. Now let’s say your spouse is a captain. One day they end up in a room with another captain who has the exact same last name. As the two begin talking about who can do more pushups (that’s normal, right?) their Colonel walks in with an important task to assign. He looks at the insignia. He looks at their name. And then he makes a decision and gives this all-important task to your spouse.
But…why? What was it about them that swayed the Colonel?
Guys that is exactly the point when it comes to your logo. It doesn’t matter how pretty your mark is, if you don’t have any mojo behind it, it won’t make any difference. Logos do not persuade any more than names persuade. They identify. That’s all. What you do with your branding, which includes customer service, communications, product or service excellence and visuals…that is the quality builder for your logo. Not the other way around.
That said, if you’ve taken care of branding business (ha!) then let’s build a logo that reflects the awesomeness that is you and your awesomely awesome self. First up…
1. HIRE A GRAPHIC DESIGNER TO CREATE YOUR LOGO
This might seem like a shameless plug (I do offer design services as a matter of fact) but many will skip this step in hopes of saving a buck. That’s cool, do your thing, but remember, it’s easier to start with quality than to try and shoehorn it in later. How much more money and time will you have to spend reprinting business cards, flyers, material on your website etc. when you realize Cousin Pete and his pirated copy of Photoshop just aren’t cutting it anymore?
Oh yeah, if you do decide to hire, get them to work your TOTAL brand, not just the logo. What good is an identity if it doesn’t match your company?
2. DESIGN YOUR OWN LOGO WITH SOME DECENT SOFTWARE
I know I said it doesn’t matter how pretty your logo is if your business model stinks, but if its smellin’ good and lookin’ fine, then a nice trademark will be an asset to your brand. There are a number of software packages and services available to you to dip your toes in the logo design pond. Here’s a quick list:
Professional Software (expensive, steep learning curves but unlimited creativity)
- Adobe Illustrator – My ‘go to’ choice. The learning curve is steep, but the options are limitless. Plus, your logo can be resized to any degree because of its vector-based makeup. As an added bonus, you can now subscribe on a monthly basis through Adobe.com.
- Adobe Photoshop – Also a steep learning curve, but there’s pretty much no effect you can’t create with this powerhouse. Combined with Illustrator, you’ve got yourself a studio. Monthly subscriptions at Adobe.com are also available.
- Corel Draw – Another good vector package. I actually started out with this program some 15 years ago. If I had to choose I’d go with Illustrator, however.
Affordable Packages (get the job done with a little creative thinking)
- Logo Maker – My top choice for MilSpouse Entrepreneurs on a budget. Pretty robust design tools for the price point.
- LogoSmartz Logo Design Software – Here’s another decent logo design tool. Quick and easy creation.
3. DECIDE ON A LAYOUT FOR YOUR LOGO. KNOW WHERE IT’S GOING.
When designing a logo, think about where it’s going to be displayed. Having at least an idea of this can help when deciding if you should follow a horizontal or square framework for your logo. The longer your logo stretches, the more space it takes up and the harder it becomes to fit into various designs. What works on your website will take up a buttload of space on your business card. Remember that.
My philosophy is to design logo variations. Have two alternatives that you can use in place of your main logo format that are immediately identifiable. Use them sparingly. You want your main format to be the most recognizable. But when the situation calls for an alternative, use them, and do so consistently. Your other branding elements (color, photography, illustration, tone, font choice) will anchor it.
One more thing. You can do what you want. It’s your company. But if you choose a vertical layout for your logo, it’s your funeral.
Seriously, though. Get your Free 6 Step Branding Guide.
4. WHAT LOGO TYPE SHOULD YOU USE?
Well, in my Free Branding Guide…
Joking guys. Okay, there are five types of logos. In general, you will find one common rule between them. Keep it simple. Logos should be quick reads, not epic novels. Here’s a brief rundown:
Symbols– super simplified images that represent some aspect of your business
Wordmarks – your company name spelled out. Usually with a modified or completely custom font. I often advise more personalized businesses building their own brands to go with a handwritten script. Be sure whoever is doing the writing keeps it readable, but memorable at the same time.
Lettermarks – The company initials arranged in a unique way. If you’re looking for looking for a logical logo variation, having a wordmark as your main format and a lettermark as a space saver alternative is a good combination.
Combination Marks – You see them all the time. Wordmarks combined with a symbol. By far, combination logos are the most popular choice and the reason is simple. Versatility.
With a combination logo, you get the best of both worlds. You have an easily identified symbol and name recognition. There’s really no design space you can’t make a logo like this work.
Emblems – Think police or military badges. Emblems are cool when your audience is government, sports, or institutional. They provide a ton of creative freedom since you can add details. The downside to emblems comes when you have to shrink down those details. How do you retain readability? And because your word mark is embedded within your design, you can’t separate the elements.
Because of the challenges, I say avoid this type of logo unless you are a designer or willing to hire one.
5. LOGO COLORS NEED TO BE FLEXIBLE
I won’t go into the science of color choice here. You should be doing that when you design your brand, no your logo. What I want you to consider are the time when your logo will display on a various backgrounds, either light or dark. You need color variations that allow legibility to remain consistent. These variants can be as simple as changing the color of your main or sub heading to changing the entire logo’s color. A good rule of thumb to follow: light backgrounds need darker logos. Darker backgrounds need lighter logo colors.
Before these situations come up go ahead and have the alternatives ready.
BONUS: HAVE SOME KILLER REFERENCE MATERIAL
- Top 10 Logo Design Inspiration Galleries (Logo Designer Blog)
- Iconic Logo Designers (David Airey)
- 45 Rules of Creating A Great Logo Design (Tanner Christensen)
- 80 Beautiful Typefaces for Professional Design (Smashing Magazine)
- The Ultimate List of Logo Design Resources (Just Creative Design)
There’s a lot more we could cover when it comes to designing logos. I’ll be posting more soon. In the meantime, keep pushing, keep learning (Get your free guide now) and I’ll keep rooting for you and yours. See you again, soon.
Do you have any ideas or questions on identity creation? I want to hear about them.