Tips for designing a logo for your business

You’re just starting up with a new business venture. You’ve got your product or service, maybe even a company name. You want to be taken seriously as a business, and perhaps one of the first things that pops into your mind is… 'I need a logo'.  

Ask any brand or design agency for a logo and they will tell you that your brand is 'not just your logo'… but what happens when the last thing you seem to have the time or money for is a branding project and large creative process? 

It doesn’t take a brand master to tell you that having certain ‘branded items' will help get your business off the ground, but the choices you make at the start of your journey will echo on for years to come, and soon enough you may be uttering the word…. rebrand! 
[Rebrands needn’t be painful, by the way, but we believe it’s important to make the right choices from the start to put you in a strong position for growth - check out some of the logo evolution winners and losers over here – spot the logos that stand the test of time!]

So, where do you start? 

Here’s our tips for designing a logo for your business:

Ask questions
You’ll know a lot of this already, but it’s worth writing it down, especially if you’re going to be asking someone to design a logo for you. 
- What is the company? 
- What does it do and how? 
- Why does it exist (history)? 
- Who are your competitors? 
- What makes you different? 
- Who are your customers?
- Where do they find you/see you?
- What do they say about you?
- Why should people buy from you?
- When do you need your logo/brand (don’t forget to allow for print timings if you need stationery)? 
- How much budget do you have (you’ll need to consider design costs, as well as cost of printing)?
- What are you going to be putting the logo on (stationery, website, products, signage, merchandise etc)?

OK, now you have a good set of information for briefing a designer or agency. Now...

Be honest
Regardless of your available time or budget, one of the most crucial things is to be honest. 

There’s nothing we haven’t heard over the years: 
“I don’t like light blue - it reminds me of an ex-girlfriend’s Cortina” 
“I don’t want it to look like our competitor, but I like the way they use the ribbon, can we work with that?” 
“I don’t like the font, it’s too modern” 
“I want something that jumps off the page, and shows inspiration"
“Make us look well established and bigger than we are, but not stuffy and formal”

And the one every designer loves to hear…

“Can we go back to the last design we saw…?"

While we all endeavour to be kind in what we say, it’s important that we know what’s in your head, whether it’s a style you like, a colour you detest or feedback on a design that’s not hitting the spot for you. The more we understand what you have in mind, the better the end result.   So please, be honest.

Be open-minded 
So now you’ve told us you don’t like green, you’ve shown us a couple of websites or printed items you like the look of, we’ve absorbed the brief, and we’re off into creative wizardry. 

There’s something rather mystical about creative people… give them a whiff of an idea and they are off into realms you can’t imagine. 
You’ll no doubt be presented back with a number of ideas, anything from initial sketches, colour swatches, supporting rationale or fully computerised designs. 

You’ve probably come to the meeting with your brief in mind, knowing you want certain elements, possibly imagining how your logo might look. But before you hold up the creative output against what’s in your mind, take a moment to set that aside, and be open to the possibilities that are put before you. They may have you spellbound with something you weren’t expecting. 

The answer to your logo brief may be very obvious, it may have been nailed first time. Or… there might be something on the table that takes you by surprise. Perhaps it’s even green! 

“Oh, yes, I see what you mean. That really does work.” 

Be forward thinking
With the creative process well underway, whether it’s a quick logo design or a more in-depth brand creation, we all need to keep sight of where you’re going. 

Bear in mind that a logo is not just for ‘now'. Apple’s logo has been the same shape since 1976, the BMW logo has barely changed since it’s creation in 1916! 

That’s not to say you’re forever stuck with what you have, but by making decisions early on, dreaming big dreams for your company, imagining where it could be in years to come, it’s not unreasonable to want a logo to stand the test of time. 

Be practical
Back in the day, designers would often start a logo design in black and white.  Why? Well, does it work on a fax machine!?

Technology may have moved on leaps and bounds since then, but there are always practical things to consider: 
Can you read it at different sizes?
Can you print it on a T-shirt in one colour? 
Would it work in low quality news print?
Does it have drop shadows or colour gradients, and will they print/display well?
Do you need to be mindful of colour blindness? 
Will it fit on your invoices if it’s an unusual shape? 
Does it need to have a landscape and portrait version depending on where it’s seen? 

While these things will be considered by the designer, it’s great if you have them in mind too. That way, you won’t be surprised when they tell you that silver ink doesn’t have a web colour reference ;)

Be consistent
Once you have your logo, protect it with all your might. Being consistent builds credibility in the mind of your audience. 

There have been times when we’ve been told… “I didn’t have the logo so I made one in Word, it will do…”. No, it really won’t. 
Equip your staff with the tools they need – provide them with a copy of the logo, and consider a set of guidelines to help them use it. It’s everyone's responsibility to ensure the brand is used consistently, but they can only do that if they are equipped to do so.  

Brand Guardianship is an incredibly important role. After all, you’ve invested a lot in creating this – the last thing you want to do is ‘bastardise’ it or undermine your own investment. 

Be assured
We don’t expect any of our clients to be design experts, and you should have peace of mind that an agency will guide you through to a successful result. 

We pride ourselves on working with clients to create successful brands, and with the expertise that Jules & Lis bring to the process, we’re more than happy to hold your hand on the journey (not in a weird way, mind you!).

If you’d like to see some of the brands we’ve created, head on over to our Work section, or take a browse through our Blog. There’s some tasty stuff in there! 

The Agency Disclaimer ;)
Your brand is not just your logo! While we love to help startup companies create initial brands to get them up and running, we’re champions for a true 'whole brand' approach, and we’d highly recommend you chat to Jules about how you can think smarter with your brand and communications to really make a difference to your company.