Investing in your brand at any stage of business is a great way to help you move towards your goals. However, this may not always be possible – especially if you are a new business and funds are a little tight.
Working with a brand designer to create a full experience is ideal and will help accelerate your business faster than a DIY brand, but if you are looking to create a logo for your small business yourself until you are in a position to invest, there are some things that will help you along the way while you save to invest later.
Before we begin, if you follow me or most other designers, you will read this time and again – YOUR LOGO ISN’T YOUR BRAND. It is a part of your brand, a reasonably important part, but it is not going to take you far on it’s own. I talk about this frequently, so we won’t hover around this point for long, but it really is worth keeping in mind.
What goes into creating a logo?
Oh, my dear reader, SO MUCH. Here is a brief list of some of the things I include when creating the logo element of a brand project:
So you can see, all of this combined with my 12+ years of practical design experience all go into the melting pot for every logo. It’s kind of like creating the Philosopher’s Stone, all these seemingly unrelated things go into the mix and then slowly form to become part of the magnificently unique brand.
If you are not a designer and are looking for something to tide you over, here are 5 things to help you along your DIY logo design journey:
Time and again I see posts in Facebook business communities asking for feedback on logo designs that have various levels of stock imagery.
The first challenge is that these images can be bought and used by many other businesses, including your competitors. It could cause confusion for your customers, a lack of perceived professionalism on your part and it damages that beautiful level of trust we are trying to build by instilling doubt in the potential buyer.
And that’s the least of it.
Most stock imagery sites exempt logos usage from their license. This at best could mean you can no longer use the logo you have created, so you’ll need to rebrand and spend more time and money to redo all your work, embarrassment for your business and it impacts brand trust and recognition with your customers. At worst, you can face legal issues for breaching the license and copyright laws you agreed to when you purchased the image.
Just don’t do it.
DESIGN TIP: Use simple shapes, colours and fonts to create something unique and remind yourself you are not a designer and that’s ok. You can use stock imagery to build further elements of your brand but keep it out of your logo.
Trendy logos date quickly. Whether it’s the blue and gold watercolour designs, or script writing over rose gold – trends come and go. This doesn’t mean you can’t use them for your brand but keep your logo timeless, so the fundamentals of your visuals don’t date.
You can add flourishes, patterns, metallics and more as part of your wider brand (remember your logo is only a single element). Think of companies like Apple and Vogue. Their logos has remained pretty much unchanged over decades. They are iconic and stand the test of time, but they have updated their creative brand style over the years as the marketplace has grown and progressed.
DESIGN TIP: A classic font, a simple colour palette and a clean design will stand the test of time and ensure your logo is flexible enough to work with shifts in trends and creative direction.
A common mistake in big and small businesses alike is forgetting that your logo is not for you. In fact, nothing you create in your business is for you. It is all for your customers. You are designing, writing, creating, selling, motivating, nurturing and crafting for THEM.
If your favourite colour is hot pink but your target market is corporate men in the late 50s – you may find it difficult to draw them in with your brand, because it doesn’t feel like it’s for them. Because it wasn’t, it was for you.
Keep your customer at the heart of everything you do. Customer experience is a huge part of branding and building advocates, your logo can either work to support that or be the spanner in the pigeons that makes it difficult.
DESIGN TIP: Ask for feedback on your logo concept from your audience (not a random Facebook group) and ask them – what can you tell me about this business from this design?
It’s tough creating for yourself, even I struggled when I was going through my own rebrand. You’re so close to the design and in the creation process that it’s a bit like coming up for air but still being blurry eyed.
It’s great that you understand the importance of branding and that you’re doing your research (which I’m assuming is why you are here), at the end of the day this is not your expertise, and even experts struggle to design for themselves.
Your business is going to change in so many marvellous and magnificent ways that you may not even be able to imagine right now. You may find after a few years the design feels limiting, restrictive or simply doesn’t cut the mustard anymore. Your client base may change, or you lose files or consistency as you grow. It falls behind because it was created as a make-do.
This is ok. Really it is.
If you find your DIY logo sees you through anywhere from 6 months to a couple of years, that’s brilliant. Then you will have a better understanding for what your business needs, where you are heading and the money to invest in a designer who can build from your foundations to make something to carry you to your business dreams.
DESIGN TIP: regularly review your brand to make sure it is still working for you and to keep consistency in check.
This is probably the single best bit of advice I can give you. Don’t overcomplicate or over design. Every element in the logo should have a purpose. If it is there ‘because it looks nice’ then it goes.
Here are some reasons to include elements in your logo:
Everything else can be built as part of your wider brand.
DESIGN TIP: Use a legible font that isn’t trendy. Use a simple colour palette of 2-3 colours (including your neutrals). Add an icon or graphic only if it communicates something essential or balances the design.
And there you have it. Your brand, and as part of that your logo, can help you achieve your big business goals. It doesn’t need to be complex but it does need to be unique and attract the clients you want to work with.
If you are looking for more design advice, I am running a Live Masterclass on the 4th September called How To Design A Simple Logo For Non-Designers where I’ll be going into detail on logo design, software and share examples and tips on how to create a logo for your business.
Early bird pricing is available until the 31st August 2020, so pop over here for all the details and to book your spot.
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