A good logo for your business can seem like window dressing—something nice to have down the road. But not having a logo, or having a bad logo, might be costing you business just when you need it the most.
Does a logo really matter that much? And if so, what’s the best way to get one that doesn’t break your budget? In this post we’ll talk about what makes a good logo, different ways to get one, and how to know when your current logo is ready for a refresh.
Why is a logo important for a new business?
A good logo makes your small business appear more experienced and more trustworthy. It’s usually the first thing people see, and just like a custom domain, it gives the impression that you take your business seriously.
In the blink of an eye, a logo tells customers that you are just as capable of meeting their needs as a larger company or even a major corporation. So it can really help your small business compete with big players.
What makes a good logo?
Most of us can identify hundreds of logos at a glance. According to experts, the most successful logos share these five characteristics:
- Simple: Logos with too much going on, like lots of text, colors, or graphics, are difficult to recognize quickly. That’s why most logos have just a few words and/or an icon or symbol.
- Memorable: People may not remember your name, but they’ll remember the general look of your logo and the feeling it gave them. It will help them recognize you when they come across your stuff in other places.
- Timeless: It’s easy for logos to start looking dated after a few years. That’s why even the most recognizable brands in the world will tweak their logos to bring them up to date.
- Versatile: The point of a logo is that you can use it everywhere, so it needs to work in different settings—full color, black and white, small and large, square, landscape, etc.
- Appropriate: Does your logo fit your brand voice and appeal to your audience? Does it match what your company does? Many companies pivot or shift their focus and forget to check if their visuals still match the business.
What’s the best way to get a business logo?
1. Logo Creators
If you’re just starting out, a logo creator is a perfect low-cost option with very little commitment. You enter your business name and topic, and the tool will recommend logo fonts, colors, and icons to match. The logo maker will narrow down the choices and only recommend combinations that are sure to look nice, so you won’t get overwhelmed by too many options. Play around with it until you’re happy, and then download the logo files.
Pros: Affordable, quick, and low commitment. Logo creators fit the bill If you’ll mostly use your logo online for your website, social media accounts, email signature, etc, and for small print projects like business cards.
Cons: The options are slightly less customizable, and you don’t get the one-on-one help from a designer.
2. Design Competitions
With platforms like 99designs and DesignonClick, designers from around the world compete to design your logo. Choose your favorite design, then work with the winning designer to finalize it. This is a more involved and expensive process, typically costing anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than $2000, depending on the package you choose and the caliber of designers you want to attract.
Pros: You get a designer’s eye at a lower cost. And you’ll usually get all the design files you need.
Cons: You have to wade through a lot of options, and the quality can vary greatly. Logo packages can still cost many hundreds of dollars.
3. Traditional Designer
If you can afford it, working one-on-one with a professional designer can help you come up with something really unique. The process takes longer, but you’ll get a brand identity and design materials, including many different file types to use in different settings. Working with a designer can be rewarding, but it’s really only worth the investment when your business is more established and you know what you want.
Pros: You’ll get a complete visual brand, and typically something one-of-a-kind.
Cons: Expensive. You’ll only want to invest in this kind of logo if you know you’re going to keep it for many years. You’ll also get fewer options, which can be tough if you’re not sure what you want.
What kind of logo files do you need?
No matter how you design your logo, make sure that the final deliverables for your project include a few different versions and file types:
- Large and small .PNG versions with transparent backgrounds.
- A full color version (If your logo is in color, make sure it’s still legible if you print it in black and white).
- An all-white version that can show up on dark backgrounds.
- An .SVG version that can scale up or down without losing quality.
- Nice to have: a version with just a small icon or initial that you can use for your website favicon.
Tip: For logos, use a .PNG instead of a .JPG file. .JPG files are typically best for photographs and .PNG files are better for graphics like logos. That’s because they keep nice crisp lines even when you zoom in, and they can have transparent backgrounds. If you only have your logo available as a .JPG, you’re limited in how you can use it. Learn more about optimizing images for your website.
Logo dos and don’ts—and 11 signs you need a new one
Think of your logo as a reflection of your business. It represents your attention to detail and your professionalism, and it tells customers if you’re up-to-date or stuck in the past.
If your logo has any of the following traits, it’s probably time for an update:
- It uses ancient clip art.
- It uses old Microsoft text effects like embossing, 3D, heavy drop shadows or reflections.
- It’s difficult to read because of the font or color.
- It uses three or more different fonts.
- The edges are pixelated or fuzzy.
- It’s difficult to resize—it looks grainy when you enlarge it or is illegible when it’s small.
- It’s very long or very tall, so it won’t fit in lots of different places.
- You don’t have a color and a black/white version of it.
- It doesn’t have a transparent background.
- You only have it as a .JPG file.
- It looks dated compared to your competitors’ logos.
Where should you use your logo?
Once you have a sweet logo, it’s time to start using it!
- Add it to the top bar or hero area of your website.
- Update the profile pictures of your social media accounts.
- Use it on business cards and stationery.
- Update it in online directories (you can use Business Listings to do this automatically).
- Make it into a watermark and add it to photos and infographics that you share online.
- Add it as a favicon to your website.
- Put it on your press page or in your press kit as an available download
- Use it to create a color palette for your website. Jimdo will automatically recommend a color theme for your website based on your logo colors.
As a general rule, your logo should only appear once in each place. This gives it the most impact. For example, it’s better to have your logo appear once at the top of your web page instead of putting it in lots of places. Same goes for business cards.
Your logo is one of the best ways to establish your company when you’re just starting out. And even if you’ve been around for a while, the logo you’ve had for a few years might be ready for an update. Fortunately there are more affordable options for making a logo than ever. So get started today!