Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Far More Than A Pretty Picture - Logo Design Demands Professional Expertise

Business owners go to great lengths to select the ideal names for their business. They know that a name plays a key role in creating a first impression about the business, and is an important consideration in making that impression both positive and memorable.

There’s a visual first impression that’s every bit as important as the verbal message delivered by the name. A company’s logo is a unique symbol that identifies a business or other organization. It represents the business in advertising, on wearables, on signs, and in every other way the business connects with key stakeholders. As people become familiar with the logo, they associate it with the company’s characteristics.

Business owners and marketing directors understand the value of having a logo, which explains why obtaining one is one of a new company’s first steps – and why a company that’s eager to change its image will often begin that process with a new logo. While they understand the need for a logo, few of those people have a deep understanding of the considerations that go into logo design, or about the most effective ways to create a logo that will stand the test of time.

Easy – or is it?

It seems that it’s amazingly easy to design a logo. After all, everyone from the local quick-print shop to the guy down the street who makes T-shirts claims that they’re capable. Unfortunately, sources like that typically design a logo that’s perfect for the immediate need but doesn’t accommodate all the other applications you’ll have. For example, a colorful logo that looks great on a computer screen might lose its charm when reproduced in black and white on a fax cover sheet. A logo that’s stunning on letterhead might be poorly suited for signage. And a dazzling, intricate design can drive the price of an embroidered golf shirt right off the course.

Those reasons and more are why it makes good sense for anyone serious about a new logo to turn to a professional graphic designer. Designers have the training and expertise to understand the many challenges involved in distilling a company’s personality into a graphic symbol, along with the practical experience to know the many ways in which that symbol will be applied.

Look for versatility.

A skilled graphic designer will consider the many places your logo may eventually appear (including some you might not have considered). That may include everything from business cards and letterhead, to vehicle decals, to store signage, to premium items, to advertising, to that familiar golf shirt. The designer’s goal will be to create a logo that provides a consistent image of your company, no matter how and where it is used.

The designer will also consider the various forms your logo may take. It may appear in full color on your signs, in just two colors on your letterhead and business cards, and in black and white in newspaper ads. It may be blown up to six feet wide on an outdoor billboard and shrunk down to a half-inch on a product label. Sometimes, it may appear in white on a dark background. As the designer moves from initial concept to finished design, all of those potential uses will be considered, and concepts that fall short will be discarded.

A step-by-step process.

Most professional designers will begin the process of logo design by asking you questions and listening carefully to your answers. They’ll develop a thorough understanding of your business and what makes it different from your competitors. You’ll probably have opportunities to review a variety of very rough sketches before the designer creates three or four recommendations. If the designer does not provide sketches showing how the logo will work in a variety of applications, be sure to ask for them before giving final approval.

Be sure to tell the designer about any special applications. For example, if it’s critical that your logo be etched into metal tools or applied as a decal to a service truck, knowing that will help the designer ensure that you’re not disappointed down the road.

How much?

Logo design is like many other things in business: prices are all over the board, but you’ll typically get what you pay for. That newspaper sales representative may create a logo for next to nothing, but when you try to use it elsewhere, you’ll find that next to nothing is about what it’s worth. If you work with a graphic designer or design studio, you’ll typically pay between $1500 and $10,000. When you consider that your logo will symbolize everything about your business, and will be used everywhere in your company, that’s a small investment.

How do you find a graphic designer?

A good way to start is by paying attention to logos you like. If you notice that a local business has an impressive logo, call the owner or marketing director and ask about the designer. If they’re happy with the work, they’ll usually also be happy to make a referral – and if they’re unhappy, you’ll want to know that, too. Focus on thinking

Once you connect with the designer, ask to see samples of his or her work. When looking at a particular logo, go beyond its appearance. Ask about the challenges the designer faced and what the client wanted to convey. After all, marketing and communications savvy is just as important in logo design as artistic taste – and there’s a big difference between a designer who takes an approach because it served a need and one who took an approach because it “seemed cool.”

Remember that you’ll live with the logo you choose for many years to come – and making a change down the road will be far more costly and disruptive than investing the time and money today. Your logo may never be as famous as Nike’s swoosh, but if it presents your company in the best possible light, it’s every bit as successful.

Alexandra Leonova is the founder of an eleven-year-old award-winning graphic and web design studio - Alex Design LLC based in Carmel, Indiana. If your current business logo needs a makeover or if you’re looking for a new logo, you can contact Alex at (317) 815-0449 ext 1


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