When I consult with business owners about their Branding and Marketing challenges, one of the things I’m tasked with most often is designing a visual brand identity (aka: your logo). Most entrepreneurs come to me with an idea of what they want it to look like, but unless they already have a background in graphic design or marketing, they usually haven’t considered the most basic logistical aspects of their vision.
So, I figured why not write a blog post about it? Hopefully after reading, you’ll know what to look out for when shopping for a designer to create your visual brand identity (trust me, it’s best when you rely on aprofessional to do this for you).
1) Keep your Brand’s Core Values in mind
Your logo should be a direct representation of the core values that your business seeks to share with it’s customers. (You may have already read my post on The Relevance of Brand Values, if not, you can check it out here). You don’t want your customers first impression of you to be through a generic and unmemorable graphic. The color choice, typography, graphics, and composition should all have some relation to your business’s personality and marketing objectives.
For instance, if you’re starting a high end beauty salon, it might be helpful to include imagery associated with luxury and pampering. You might want to have a nice cursive or classy font.
For a completely different example, if you are a children’s facing brand, you may want to go with a bright, colorful, playful theme.
2) Choose color carefully
In guideline #1, we touched on why color is important as a way of expressing brand values, but color also has implications for broader design psychology in general. This is not a post on color theory, but it is important to always keep color theory in mind when thinking of the way your brand will be perceived (more info about the basics of color theory can be found here in this Fast Company article). Colors have a very significant impact on our emotions and are strong communications factors. In addition to color, it’s also smart to be careful about the imagery you choose. The more the graphic concept that you choose relates to your business, the easier it will be to have your customers make the brand association that you want them to. Takeaway: don’t just go with your favorite color or image, be informed and purposeful.
3) Keep it Simple
The best logo designs are beautifully simple. Less is more. The reason for this is that your visual brand identity must be versatile enough to translate into a multitude of sizes and situations. The more complex detail that you place into your logo’s design, the more likely it is that something will be lost in the re-purposing process. I like to tell my clients that your logo should look good on a billboard, a business card, and/or as your social media profile picture.
4) Use a vector art program
Adobe Photoshop is so well known that it has become a verb (i.e. “that picture looks photoshopped”), however, when it comes to logo creation, Adobe Illustrator is actually the industry standard. This is so because Adobe Illustrator, and programs just like it, fall into the category of “vector”. The most important thing for you to know about vectors are that they are the opposite of “raster”. Raster based files have a limited number of pixels (think of pixels as the atoms that make up an image) and therefore lose quality whenever you enlarge the image past the point that the pixels in it were meant to handle. On the other hand, vector images can be any size you want with zero loss of quality. The selfie you took to celebrate purchasing the new iPhone yesterday? That’s a raster. The little cartoon people you drew on your old computer’s paint program? That’s vector. When designing your logo, don’t be a raster, be a vector (laughs).
5) Ask for multiple formats and sizes
When I officially handover a final logo file to a client, I make sure to give them at least one vector based file, a .PDF/.eps, a high resolution jpeg, and three different .png files. I also usually ensure that the PDF I give them can be edited by any designer they may choose to work with in the future. It may sound overwhelming or redundant, but the reason that you want to have your logo in this many file formats is that you want to be prepared for each scenario you will encounter during the life of your brand. You want to be prepared for the point at which you have to send your logo to be professionally printed on a large poster or sign and also be prepared for when your app developer needs it for your smartphone app icon. In the former case, you always send PDF or EPS and in the latter instance you go with the smallest png. Takeaway: One of your questions for your graphic designer should be, in what file formats do you hand over the final product?
Bonus: Respect the process
This is a bonus because it’s not quite a logo guideline per se, but is a great piece of advice if you’ve never worked with a creative professional before. When the average person thinks of a logo/web site/design product, it is easy to think that the creative product itself is the only product being delivered. This couldn’t be any further from the truth. The asset that you end up with when the design process is over is the most tangible piece of the puzzle, but the service you receive during the creative process is what makes the biggest difference between any two creative professionals. Stated differently, the mark of a good designer is how they design just as much as “what” they design. This basic principle applies to every service based industry that I can think of. When you hire a service provider, you pay them for their process. Takeaway: ask your graphic designer about their process. Do they keep an open line of communication with clients during the creative process and if so, how frequently do they check in? What are their timelines like? How many revisions do you get once the initial samples are produced? These are the small touches of professionalism that go into the great outcome that will form an effective and long lasting brand identity.
Thank you so much for reading! Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Also, let me know if you have any other questions regarding logos and visual brand identity. I respond as soon as I can and I may even devote a future blog post to it!