Choosing the Right Logo Can Give Your Business a Jumpstart

By having a professional logo, your company can make that all-important first impression.

In the business world, first impressions are important. Companies spend millions designing their showrooms to be comfortable, clean, and eye-appealing for customers. They have training and dress codes for employees to make sure customers have a good experience with the company. Even websites and advertisements are designed to make the company look good—all to make a good first impression.

But have you ever considered that the very first impression your company makes is with its logo? Before the customer drives up to the business, clicks on their website or interacts with a well-trained employee, they most likely will have seen your logo first. So, isn’t it obvious that having a great looking logo is just as important as having a shiny showroom floor?

Logos represent your brand
If you hadn’t thought about it before, logos are the visual representation of your brand. The shapes and colors in your logo are what people associate with your company and their experiences with it. A high-quality logo can help retain customers and create interest in your company to lure new customers. A bad logo can have just the opposite effect. When a logo is well-designed and properly used, however, it can be the one of the greatest assets a company has. For instance, if you’re driving through an unfamiliar town and your car breaks down, where is the first place you’ll turn? Probably the place with a logo you recognize and trust—even if the parking lot is dirty and the mechanics are greasy. If you can’t find a place you recognize, then you’ll probably go to the place with the best logo. Even with no prior knowledge or experience with the company, you’ll automatically trust a company that has a professional appearance more than one that does not.

Are you sending the right message?
You know that a logo says a lot about a company, but is your company sending the message you want your customers to receive? Are you using the right combination of colors, images, and messages to strike a chord with your target customers? It’s not easy: large companies have spent millions of dollars to find the meanings of different colors and shapes in order to create the right logo. Much can be said about color and shape psychology, but I won’t expound on it here. There are plenty of resources available to aid you in learning more about it, and it wouldn’t hurt to do some research to be more familiar with what works and what doesn’t.

One key is that a simple logo is much more powerful than a complex one. The most prominent logos in the world are usually the most simple. FedEx, HP, Chevron, McDonald’s: the list could go on forever. These companies all use simple shapes and color combinations that are easy to remember. The more colors and images you have in a logo, the harder it is to remember anything about it.

Also, don’t feel like you need to summarize your company with a logo. McDonald’s doesn’t need to include a hamburger in its logo for you to know they sell hamburgers. Chevron doesn’t need a picture of an oil field, a refinery, or a tanker truck for you to know they sell gasoline. Keeping your logo simple will make it easier to remember and recognize.

Another thing we can learn from the world’s top brands is their consistent and appropriate use of their logo. For the most part, it’s unwise to change a logo temporarily. The colors and the relationships between the different shapes must always be the same. Even the slightest change in the shade of blue you use can give the impression that the logo represents a different company. Of course, slight changes may need to be made when adapting the logo for use in different applications, but these should not change the shape, color, or feel of the logo.

When does it make sense to change a logo?
Since a good logo can have such a powerful positive influence with customers, it’s important to make the logo last as long as possible. When a company has built a successful, powerful brand using a good logo, it would be foolish for them to design a completely new one. Imagine what the impact would be if Chevrolet started using something besides their classic “bow tie” shape on their vehicles.

But there are times when a new logo is necessary, or when a face-lift could really make a difference in the company. Obviously, if you are starting a new business, there is no better time to invest in a professional logo than now. But for those not lucky enough to start out with a clean slate, a new logo might still be worth the investment.

If your business is not attracting the kind of customers you want or if people don’t view your company the way you want them to, it may be time to consider getting a new logo. Looking at your success in meeting your business goals, looking at the kinds of customers you have, and asking people how they view your company can tell you a lot about the success of your current logo. At other times, a new logo should be considered when new management takes over, when a new product gets launched, or if the name of the company changes.

Logo makeovers are more common than brand new logos
Most logos will not last forever, and after a while they will need updating to keep looking good. The changes can be minor and should not drastically alter the look and feel of the logo because that will alter the look and feel of the company to customers. The idea of a logo makeover is just to freshen it, to keep the company looking up-to-date, and to help customers feel like your business isn’t falling behind the competition.

Options for getting a new or updated logo
There are many avenues for getting professional logo design. The most obvious is to do it yourself. While this option is cheap, the resulting logo often reflects the price. Customers will be able to sniff out cheap logos. Another option is to hire an advertising agency.

Ad agencies are the traditional source for professional logo design, but are also the most expensive, with average prices ranging from $2,000 to $10,000, which is why many small business owners forgo this option.

A third alternative is to hire a freelance designer. This is normally much more affordable than ad agencies and much more professional than logos designed at home. But since freelancers usually work on an hourly basis, prices will vary depending on the designer’s abilities and the business owner’s spending power. Another downside to freelancers is that it’s difficult to gauge the skill level and credibility of the designer, and dealing with timelines can be frustrating. Also, since only one brain is coming up with ideas, freelancers are limited in the number of designs they can come up with.

The newest option for logo seekers is to look online for solutions. Online logo design companies cost much less than ad agencies, use professional designers, and can come up with a greater variety of designs than other resources. Make sure you do your research when looking online for solutions. Below are some good questions to ask:
• How many designers will work on my logo?
• How many concepts will they provide?
• Is there a revision process or return policy?
• How much do they use my input vs. their own ideas?
• Does the company do anything besides logos?
• How long will it take to come up with a logo concept? How soon can I expect revisions to be done? When will I see the final product?
• Can I see some of their previous work to see if I like their other ideas?
• Do they have customer support in case I need to talk with someone about my logo?
• How long have they been in business?
• Are they approved by the BBB (Better Business Bureau)?

By having a professional logo, your company can make that all-important first impression in style, and with a good professional image, people will remember your company the next time they need whatever you have.

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Reader Comments

Monday, March 16, 2009 at 10:20 PM
THINK! 360 says:
Great stuff! When I thought about my logo I first asked myself. I need a logo that shows my customers how I conduct business and if I was ever asked.."how did you come up with your logo" I can easlily explain. It works
Monday, November 17, 2008 at 9:11 PM
Ed Roach says:
Excellent article which is right on the money in my opinion. And Jack's comment is also from someone who appreciates taking your logo seriously. many cheap designers and logo mills view logos as art and not communication solutions.

Thank you for the great read, as I spend the evening browsing blogs.
Saturday, December 22, 2007 at 7:01 AM
Jack says:
I just had a freelance designer do a new logo? I would add two or three points to the article:
1) Ask for the resulting logo not only as a single file for high quality printing but also in all its componant parts and in different qualities, so you can use each element in various ways to create new documents, for example using powerpoint or for the website.
2) When you commission the the work for the logo, also commission a practical implementation, like an external sign or a website homepage. That gives important focus to the work.
Also re cost: I had offers starting at $500. My freelance quote $4500. In reality she has worked for that and I am convinced that we have something much better as a result.

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