What makes a good logo?
A logo is the graphical representation of your business. It is often the first thing that people notice on your website, and should be one of the first things that come to mind when someone thinks of your business. A well-made, professionally-designed logo helps to build trust in your website and your company. It is a great way to level the playing field with your competitors and let your customers know that you are just as capable of meeting their needs as a larger company or even a major corporation.
If you stop and think about it, most of us can identify hundreds of logos at a quick glance. There are even online games that give you the chance to do just that. What is it about these logos that makes them so successful?
Experts agree that there are a five main characteristics of a successful logo. Let’s explore each one.
SimpleLogos need to be simple so they can be noticed and digested at just a quick glance. This is why most logos consist purely of a few words and/or an icon or symbol. Simple text and colors can still subtly communicate messages about your business. Logos with too much going on, like lots of text, colors, or graphics, are difficult to recognize quickly.
MemorableIf someone can’t remember what your logo looked like a few minutes after seeing it, then your logo doesn’t work. It sounds harsh, but that is the reality. An impactful logo will leave an immediate imprint on the mind of the viewer. Your logo should help people recognize every piece of media, digital or offline, that you release into the world. This is at the heart of a company's branding.
TimelessBeware of logos based on a current stylistic trend. If you want your business and brand to stand the test of time, it is important that your logo sticks to timeless design principles rather that a fly-by-night fashion that might be out of style by next year. One way to address this is to revisit your logo every few years and make sure that it is still relevant or if it needs to be redesigned or updated. Look at what Coke, Google, and Starbucks have done over the years to increase their longevity.
VersatileYour logo should come in variations that take advantage of spaces that are landscape (short and wide), portrait (tall and narrow), and square in nature. Also consider having versions of your logo that are in full and single color (black or white). Sometimes it's hard to devolve a full color logo into a black and white logo, so I advise starting with a simple black and white logo and then thinking about adding colors.
AppropriateDoes your logo fit your audience? If your business caters to children, having a stuffy and overly-formal serif font with a rigid angular icon probably isn’t going to go over as well as a playful font with bright colors. Does your logo’s imagery match what your company currently does? Many companies pivot or shift focus and never take the time to consider if their visuals are still appropriate.
Can you design a logo yourself?
This is one of those areas where I think it really pays to work with a professional. While you can use a program like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop to create a .png file and put it on your website, a professional can help you through the process and come up with something unique and effective. Even if you are just working with text for a logo, a professional can help you think through colors and fonts. A professional can also ensure that your logo files work in all situations and all sizes, which will make your communications look much more polished. Go ahead and make sketches and suggestions, but when it comes to the final design, it is best to leave that to the pros.
The dangers of using a bad logo
It’s a problem if your business doesn’t have a logo, but as I mentioned above, having a bad logo can be a disaster that costs you business. Think of your logo as a reflection of your business—of your attention to detail and your professionalism. It reflects whether your business is up-to-date or stuck in the past. For many, it reflects how serious you are about running your business. A subpar logo really sends the wrong message.
A bad logo can also put you at a disadvantage compared to your competition. The 99designs CEO Patrick Llewellyn recommends comparing your logo to your competition’s. If your logo does not look as slick or professional as those of your competition, it could be hurting your business. Never underestimate how powerful of an influence design has on your audience.
If a customer looks at your website and sees what they perceive as an unprofessional logo, they will assume that your entire business is conducted in an unprofessional manner. According to Llewellyn, if no one is complimenting your logo, there may be a problem. Furthermore, most modern websites and templates place more focus on the logo than ever before. If you have a “do-it-yourself” logo that is underwhelming, that will magnify the potential negative effects.
Signs that it's time to update your logo:
- Your logo utilizes clipart.
- Your logo has embossed or 3D text.
- Your logo has a heavy drop shadow.
- Your logo relies on a reflection.
- Your logo includes text that is difficult to read because of font or color choice.
- Your logo uses more than two fonts.
- The edges of your logo are pixelated and not crisp.
- You don’t have a scalable version of your logo.
- You don’t have a version of your logo with a transparent background.
How to get a professionally-designed logo
Many people assume that working with a professional will cost too much. But that doesn’t have to be the case. If you have a budget around $500 to $10,000 and want to work with someone local, try searching the term “logo design” in Yelp for your city. You’ll find both freelance designers and different-sized marketing firms who can help. The final cost will depend on a number of factors from the skill and reputation of the designer to the number of final variations and assets delivered. This is likely the most expensive option but will give you a guaranteed good result. This could be a good option if you are rolling your logo project into a larger branding package.
When budget is more of an issue, I recommend using 99designs for your logo work. You can get a new logo delivered for less than $300. I have personally used them for several projects and been very happy with the results each time. They use a very cool process where they position your logo project as a contest and invite their network of thousands of designers around the globe to compete for your business. You will get dozens of professional logo submissions to choose from and most of the designers will take your feedback and adjust their designs to meet your needs.
No matter which method you use, make sure that the final deliverables for your project include a few different versions of your logo:
- Ideally, I’d ask for a large .png version with a transparent background.
- Ask for both full-color and one-color versions (in black, white, and maybe even grey).
- Also make sure to get vector files of each variation of your logo. A vector image format will show up as an .ai or .eps (as opposed to a .jpg or .png). Vector images are scalable and used by professional designers and print shops. They allow your logo to be crisply output at any size—from business cards to a full-size billboard.
How to use your new professional logo
Once you have the variations of your logo in hand, start to use them everywhere–both online and offline. Add it to your business cards, your signage, any print materials, t-shirts, the sky is the limit. (This is why it’s important to get a vector image of your logo—printers usually can’t use .jpgs or .pngs because the quality won’t be as good.)
When it comes to your website, many of the new Jimdo templates have great spots in the upper-right or upper-left of your website for you to insert your logo. Try using a full-color version if the background of the logo area is a solid color. If you are using an image as a background, make sure to use the one-color version (again this would likely be black or white with a transparent background). If you are using a template with a hero area, consider a larger, centered version of your logo.
It’s also a good practice to subtly watermark any images you send out through your social media channels with your logo in the upper or lower corners. If you don’t have a tool like Photoshop that allows you to do layers, you can make a watermark by using a free online tool like Pixlr. We do this with all of our featured images for blog posts. Then share the same images on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn.
First impressions are vitally important in both business and websites. You want your customers and viewers to start their interaction with you by seeing a logo that demonstrates that you are trustworthy and professional; one that sets you apart from your competition and sticks in their memory. If you don’t have a professional logo, or if you have a do-it-yourself one, consider taking this opportunity to upgrade and help boost your business to the next level.
Multi-talento at Jimdo
Brent Gummow has been building websites for small businesses, non-profits, artists, and educators for the past 17 years in both Ohio and California.
He currently serves as the Multi-talento in Jimdo's San Francisco office, solving problems, educating users, and helping to grow awareness about Jimdo, the easiest website builder on the web.