Advertising and branding has been a part of our households since before we met. Bob Roush, my dad, taught me the importance of logos, typefaces, clean styles, readability when I was nine. As a cheerleader in 9th grade I learned how to reproduce type from Letraset catalogs for larger banners that needed to be legible and convey emotion each week as we challenged local teams. Janie Frigge Longo and I would spend hours with piles of Marks-A-Lot wide pens, rulers, and rolls of banner paper creating the messaging for the week. If only we had more photos of those efforts. They were impressive, we were told. We are exposed to logos at an early age with grocery shopping, clothing, toys. We identify with those brands of our age. As we get older they are nostalgic and take us back to a time and place in an instant, like a familiar song from school dances, first concerts, weddings, and broken hearts.
When it is time to create your logo, slow down. As a graphic designer, it’s obvious who used a logo maker service for $99, Fiverr, and other quick graphic solutions. You see the non-descriptive shapes such as dots in a pattern, swirls, repeating shapes as the mark, but it says nothing about the company, the brand, the service or their company culture. It should evoke an emotion of some sort.
You have probably noticed some company names and logos that were probably created while drinking a lot of beer with friends at a table and brainstorming ideas. This is what I mean by slow down. Sit with it on a fresh day. What are your competitors doing right? What are they doing wrong with their branding. Learn from them. Will your logo alert people as to the decade you created it, or will it be more timeless and unique?
Look up various types of logos in search. Try “futuristic logos”, “medical logos”, “1940’s logos” and a few others. See what comes up and if any are the feeling you are looking for. Just because a logo or font makes us happy, it may be the very personal memory we have that it is evoking. What is your target audience? What is the message you are trying to convey? Do you want to appear warmer, larger, trendy, established, casual – you need to decide this before you go any further. This is typically part of your first hello to people checking out your company. Run it by people with taste that will be honest with you. Ask them for more details about their feedback. You may get insights as to how your company will be perceived. It needs to start building trust and curiosity right away without being so cryptic that no one has an idea as to what you do.
Here’s a short checklist of what to consider before you finalize a logo.
- It is easy to see clearly very small, like in icon in the browser?
- It is high contrast to be clear to those with visual impairments?
- How does it look in black and white?
- How does it look grayscale?
- How does it look on both a light, dark, and transparent backgrounds?
- Do you want to include your tagline and an optional version?
- What is the font for the tagline? Do you have the rights to use that font? If a graphic designer is making it for you, do they have to rights to use the font, then pass them along to you?
1. Our logos get used in many ways and in a ton of sizes. Are you going to want it big enough for a jumbo-tron in a stadium? On a bus or billboard? Do you need it for an app icon? Will it be easy to read or distinguish from similar looking icons? You want to be careful in case there is a similar icon used by an unsavory company. Use Google’s “find similar” tool to see who has a logo similar to the one you are considering. Does your logo require a “glow”, outline, drop shadow? That will limit how you use it. It needs to be clean tiny and stripped down.
2. 25% of people have visual impairments of some sort. We’ll cover that in more detail in an upcoming article. Just think of basic red-green colorblind people – 10% of the population. Can they distinguish your logo and will it convey the same feeling that someone who can see all colors will feel? Or will it be so dull, the details will be lost?
3. Testing a logo in black and white is a true test of how effective it will be in all situations. It’s also handy if you are going to sponsor events and your logo goes on the back of a t-shirt, on a water bottle where you get one color – black, and the negative space, white. No grayscale. One color. This is also good for engraved awards you may give out to your team. You can order colored awards, but it’s more common to have a metal plate with simple engraving. You want it clear.
4. Grayscale gives you more options, but it will also show you more of how there isn’t enough difference between elements. Gray-scaled green and gray-scaled red look about the same and you won’t have that definition. Whomever is designing this for you should show you all variations.
5. This brings us to the “on dark” version, versus “on light” version. You may need to change your colors slightly for both versions in order for it to pop more. You’ll want to keep a style guide with all of these details and colors in both versions, fonts you have licensed, or have permission to use, and any other requirements for displaying your logo. Keep this on a shared drive for anyone involved in creating marketing materials, including social media posts. Same goes for transparent versions. Make sure the edges are clean and not jagged and that there is no overall outline around the logo.
6. If you have a tagline, be sure to include all of the specifications for that – font, size, weight, letter spacing, alignment so it is consistent. A tagline is not a mission statement. It is short and easy to read small if you include it in the logo on your website. Also if you are printing it on shirts, hats, etc. can you read it if it is embroidered? ConnectAndSell Conversations matter. Conversations matter. is their tagline It’s short. It’s in the same font. You can read it small. It embroiders well, too.
7. There are tons of fonts anyone can use for any purpose. But there are a lot that must be licensed by the designer, Adobe, whomever. You want to check the rights on the fonts you are considering using. I had a client a few years ago that insisted on a specific font. The designer wanted to charge him $1,500 for the rights per site. At this time, the client had 23 sites – one for each location. We had to negotiate it based on traffic, purpose, and my personality. He could have gone back and billed this client each year for renewal. Do not take the designer’s word for it. Look up the licensing info for the fonts your self, download and put it in your branding folder. Do not let them purchase on your behalf. You want it in your name in case you sever ties with that designer.
If you get stuck or want help with the planning or design of your logo, we love creating branding for clients and have been doing it for more than 20 years.