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Your logo is your brand's first impression. Here's why you need to get it right
So you've decided to undertake a new business venture and have leapt over that first hurdle, the name. Perhaps you went the witty route by nailing a pun, like a laundromat called Lord of the Rinse. Alternatively, you may have shot for something awe-inspiring along the lines of Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net. Whatever the case, that second hurdle is now fast approaching. You need a logo design that tells the world you're serious about taking their money.
Today we're going to dive into why a symbol of your business can be just as (if not more) important than its moniker. Like that old cliché goes: a picture tells a thousand words. One seemingly insignificant squiggle can effortlessly convey your intent and significantly shape your public perception. As far as branding investments go, the humble logo is one of the most important decisions a business owner can make.
So how much does logo design cost?
You have a range of options at your disposal when it comes to getting a logo designed. You can hire a graphic design agency, you can use a logo generator software tool or you can hire a freelance graphic designer. Let's have a look at what you can expect to pay for each.
Logo design from an agency
Upwards of $2,500 USD
Logo design with a logo maker tool
From $20–80 USD
Freelance logo design
The average project is completed on Freelancer for $88 USD
So what are the pros and cons of each?
Hiring an agency is likely to produce high-quality work. Agencies employ expert graphic designers, and they have a lot of experience with logos and branding. It might take some back and forth, but you're likely to be happy with the end result.
Obviously, the big drawback to hiring an agency is the cost. You can expect to pay at least $2,500 USD for a logo design, and oftentimes much, much more.
Plus, you'll be one of numerous clients for the agency. It's likely your contact will be with an account manager, and not with the actual designer working on your logo.
Online logo makers certainly offer an attractive price. The big downside is the level of customization. An online logo maker is likely to produce a logo for your business that looks like a whole lot of other logos for a whole lot of other businesses.
By contrast, freelance graphic designers can offer the best of both worlds. You'll get a 100% unique logo designed to your specifications, and it won't break the bank.
Having a logo is a non-negotiable. Having a great logo is an investment that will pay huge dividends for your business. And here's why...
1. Logos set first impressions
We live in a cynical, competitive world where all first impressions better come with some wow-factor. Deliver anything less than the baseline of professionalism that your customer expects, and you've lost a sale. A well designed logo ought to state to the viewer that you unequivocally own your particular niche in this market. You simply do it better than any of your competition.
Basically, a decent logo needs to hook eyeballs and pique interest levels in such a way as to turn a passerby into a paying customer. With the right design you can effortlessly broadcast your mission statement (be it efficiency, entertainment, innovation, etc) or the tone of your service (laid-back, playful, professional). Forget about words. You'd be amazed at what can be shouted with the right mix of icons or fonts alone.
2. Logos seize attention
And here's the thing: logos can communicate all of the above mentioned first impressions in the blink of an eye.
Studies on human attention spans have revealed that most people take less than three seconds to scan a full web-page and form their first impressions. Once that's done, the very next thing they'll look for will be that logo of yours. From here you'll have an even smaller chance to snatch your viewers’ attention and get across your company’s core values in a quirky, clever or commanding way. That, or they'll be quickly repulsed and amused by the half-assed MS Paint doodling that you commissioned from Kevin the Comic Sans loving intern. Either, or.
3. Visual memories endure longer than text
Colors and shapes are far more recognizable and memorable than a string of words. Obviously, they can also be much more universally understood than any written language out there, too. That being said, your logo will be a (hopefully) unique piece of identification for you; a symbol for your brand that customers can easily recall and emotionally connect with, time and time again.
If your logo has been expertly designed to be aesthetically pleasing, it can make a customer conjure fond memories about the marvellous goods/services you provide. Some of the cleverest logos can eschew words altogether and still communicate exactly what you're about and how well you provide it.
4. Logos set you apart from the pack
Any decent graphic designer out there will be out to craft a logo that goes above and beyond the status quo. Any schmuck with access to an internet's-worth of clipart can get across the basic idea of a business. However, the shrewd designer who knows how to push the envelope can dare to be a little different and then subconsciously broadcast more exciting promises to a consumer. Suddenly you're not just one of the crowd; you're different, special, premium. There's a certain je ne sais quoi to your brand that makes you a bit more forward-thinking, environmentally minded, quality obsessed or any number of other positives attributes.
5. A logo is the anchor of your brand identity
Once you've locked in your logo, everything else will bloom from it. The visual narrative of your brand must now continue into other things as part of an overarching theme.
In a micro sense, the color scheme you go with will need to be repeated in the text of your email signature. Likewise, it will need to bleed into the design of your printed letterheads, business cards and the design of any corporate website you decide to setup.
Finally, macro examples would include storefront signage, company car liveries or large outdoor advertising spaces. The artistic foundation you choose for one seemingly innocuous icon — be it color, tone and fonts — could be used in a much larger brand story than you could imagine. Getting it absolutely right on day one is very important because...
6. Your logo becomes an expectation
As your business continues to grow and it you make a reputation for yourself (hopefully a good one) your faithful customers will absolutely notice if something gets changed in your logo design. Without being able to put their finger onto exactly why, chances are many of them just won't like it. This is essentially because we're all creatures of habit. Human beings crave familiarity because known quantities come with a perception of trustworthiness and quality.
All that being said, there's really no way around this one: nailing your first pass on a logo and keeping it consistent over a number of years will create brand recognition. A good logo, a good trademark, gains meaning and power over time, a type of trust. That's a sacred thing, and it's never a good idea to tinker with a good thing because you took a class and learned some new tricks in Adobe Illustrator.
7. It's a personal ego boost
Here's one plus that's overlooked. Unless you've come up with a truly revolutionary product or service, chances are you'll be entering an overpopulated and potentially hostile market. Staying motivated and on task in that sort of rat race can be tough, even for the most glass-is-half-full types.
That being said, there's a certain amount of personal pride to be drawn from glancing up from your particular salt-mine to see your very own logo smiling back at you. It makes your business and your sweat and tears into a tangible thing. Much like dressing for the job you want, not the one you have, early investing in a bad ass logo (for a garage-based business) can help push you to greater things.
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So, what makes a good logo?
We can give you a few choice tips on where to begin and what pitfalls to avoid. Mind you, you're probably going to want to get in touch with a decent graphic designer for the absolute best results.
Discovering you are some sort of naturally gifted logo artisan is pretty unlikely. For starters, let's cover off a pet peeve for those long-suffering professional printers out there. It's not enough to have a logo that looks good on a computer screen. 300 dpi should be seen as a minimum resolution for a bitmap design, and the best case scenario would be to have everything in an infinitely scalable vector format.
Also, while we're talking hardcopy, you'll need a design that looks presentable in greyscale and color both. There's no use having the sort of technicolor logo that would bring a tear to Monet's eye if it also looks like an awful, illegible smudge when photocopied.
Secondly, for the love of God don't mix fonts if you're new at this. Just as colours spark certain emotions in the viewer, all fonts come with their own moods and communicate different intentions. Only a designer with considerable artistic nous will know how to get away with using two different fonts in a single logo design. If your fonts clash they can trigger discordant emotions in a viewer that can fight against one another. Conversely, it can get confusing for the beholder if they're too similar.
Those are a few key cardinal sins to avoid when making a good logo. From here on out, it's all up to you, your own creative juices and a downloaded copy of GIMP (or similar).
Bottomline: just remember to focus on keeping the logo design simple and streamlined, but also versatile so it can be used in various mediums and applications. You'll also need to keep it targeted to your audience and appropriate to said consumers environment.
Finally — and this is the trickiest part — you'll need to find a way to make your design memorable and timeless. But not in a “so bad it'll be meme'd and reposted forever on Reddit” kind of way.
With all that being said, you can easily save yourself a nail-biting tiptoe through an artistic minefield by hiring a professional logo-slinger on Freelancer.