In entrepreneurship, you can have a great idea, a fantastic prototype, and a sound business plan, but unless you’re able to create a brand identity that people can easily fall in love with, none of it matters. In today’s fast-paced, unforgiving world of internet consumerism, first impressions are everything. As an aspiring entrepreneur, the only way you’re going to be able to successfully launch a business, connect with prospects, gain traction, differentiate from competitors, and build a sustainable, profitable business with a solid reputation is by developing an unforgettable brand. There’s a lot that goes into developing a strong brand and brand identity—it doesn’t all happen at once. It’s a layered process that occurs over a number of months and years as your business grows and evolves over time. There is, however, a starting point that kicks the process into motion for every new business: It all starts with the design of a logo. In business, your logo is the cornerstone of your brand identity. It shapes your brand story, it differentiates you from competitors, and it affects every single visual branding decision you make as your business grows. As an aspiring entrepreneur, you can’t afford to create and use a bad logo. So the question is: where do you start? Here are 7 essential logo design tips that you can use to create a winning brand identity of your new business:
Tip #1: Educate yourself before you dive in
Before you get too far into the process of designing a logo for your business, it’s important to take some time to educate yourself on topics like design theory, branding, logo design, and brand storytelling. Doing so can help you make better decisions about the overall direction of your brand and the message you want to present through your logo and other visuals that shape your identity as a business. To get started, take a look at these 5 helpful resources:
- The Effective Logo Design Series by Maggie Macnab for Smashing Magazine (Part I, Part II, Part III)
- Why The Shape Of A Company's Logo Matters by Annie Sneed at Fast Company
- Here's What the Most Popular Brands' Logos Have in Common by Katie Richards at AdWeek
- Sticky Branding: 12.5 Principles to Stand Out, Attract Customers, and Grow an Incredible Brand by Jeremy Miller
- Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team by Alina Wheeler
In order to design a compelling, memorable logo for your business, you have to understand what makes a logo great. The resources above will help put you on the right track.
Tip #2: Think about the bigger picture
In order to design a logo that can successfully grow and evolve with your business, you have to think about the bigger picture. To develop something great, you shouldn’t think of the creation of your logo as a single, necessary to-do item that has to be completed before you launch your business. Rather, you should treat the action as the first step toward creating a compelling brand identity for your business, products, employees, and customers. As mentioned above, your logo will act as the foundation of all future visualization and brand styling for your business—so it’s important that you develop a logo that not only looks good, but also accurately represents your business and the message you’re trying to present to your target audience. To think about the bigger picture, consider these questions when designing your logo:
- Will this logo still be relevant in 10 years?
- Is this logo be flexible enough to easily use in a variety of different places (print, digital, swag, letter heads, etc)?
- Is this logo presenting the right message to my audience?
- What do I want people to feel when they see this logo?
- How does this logo fit into the story I’m trying to tell? Does it relate in some way to my products, the solution I’m providing, or the pain points my customers experience?
Answering questions like these when designing your logo reduces the likelihood that you’ll have to invest in a logo redesign or complete overhaul at some point down the road as you work to scale your business.
Tip #3: Understand color psychology
Believe it or not, the color(s) you use in your logo can have a big impact on how your brand is ultimately received by prospective customers. As such, it’s important to understand how different colors make people feel when selecting the right colors for your logo. There are a ton of in-depth resources out there that you can read to better understand color psychology (like this blog post from CoSchedule, or this chapter from a QuickSprout guide on consumer psychology), but if you’d rather just get a quick snapshot of the meaning behind different colors, take a look at this visual that marketing expert Brian Honigman shares in a Huffington Post article on the impact of color in logo design:
Use this graphic and the information in the articles shared above to pick a color for your logo that helps you present the right message and drive the right emotional response when people interact with your business for the first time.
Tip #4: Put a development plan in place
When you’re finally ready to move forward with creating a logo for your business, one of the last and most important steps you need to take before you begin is to put a development plan in place to guide you or whoever you hire to help you design your logo and build your brand identity. Ideally, your development plan should begin at the research phase and end with a packaged brand identity document that includes brand assets, messaging, and other standards and guidelines to refer back to as you build and grow your business. What you end up doing in between the moments you begin researching about logos and branding and the point at which you finalize your logo and brand identity is entirely up to you. If you’re looking for an established process to follow though, there are a lot of great frameworks shared by other companies and branding agencies online that you can pull and repurpose to establish your own logo design process. All you have to do to find examples is put the phrase “brand identity process” into Google and search through the image results that appear. Here’s an example that comes from author Alina Wheeler, an author who we mentioned above:
As you can see in the example above, the process outlined is focused on brand identity as a whole, as opposed to being focused on simply designing a logo. This again illustrates the importance and value of thinking about the bigger picture when developing the visual components of your brand (refer back to tip #2 above).
Tip #5: Hire the right person and use the right tools
When you get to the point where you’re ready to kickoff the actual design phase for your logo, you have a few options. First, you could utilize your internal designer if you have one on your team already. Second, you could attempt to design the logo yourself. If you decide you want to try to go with this option to save money, there are a number of tools you can use, such as:
Third, you could hire a freelance designer to help you create your logo. If you want to go with this route, you can find freelance designers on the following sites:
The option you decide to go with will ultimately depend on your abilities, your personal tastes, and your budget.
Tip #6: Focus on versatility
As you design your logo or collaborate with your designer, it’s essential that you put an emphasis on versatility and flexibility. Your logo is (hopefully) going to be attached to your business for many years, so it needs to be able to remain usable as your business grows. It’s also important that you design a logo that can be easily transferred and incorporated into letter heads, t-shirts, print ads, digital spaces like your website and social media channels, on product packaging, in email signatures, and in a multitude of other locations and formats. To ensure that your logo is flexible and versatile enough to remain attached to your business as it grows, take the following recommendations into consideration during the design phase:
- Keep the design simple. Use one or two colors max, leverage white space, and use a font that can be easily read and printed on different types of marketing collateral.
- Keep it timeless. Don’t make your logo too trendy or include any types of pop culture references or plays on words. Stick to the basics and focus on creating something iconic.
- Incorporate iconography into your logo. Icons are typically the easiest way to represent your brand on social media sites where profile photo areas are square in size (see the icon used in Pepsi’s Twitter profile). If you’d rather not force an icon into your design, just make sure your logo can be easily packaged into different shapes and sizes in order to account and prepare for all the different formats you’ll need in the future.
Again, as mentioned earlier - focusing on flexibility and versatility will prevent you from having to be forced to redesign or overhaul your branding in the future.
Tip #7: Try the swag test
When you finally have a working first version of your logo developed and finalized, it can sometimes be helpful to take your new logo for a test drive in order to decide if it’s really the visual you want to use as the foundation of your brand identity going forward. One great way to do this is by printing a small batch of t-shirts, stickers, or some other type of inexpensive swag item that prominently features your logo. If you can walk around with a branded t-shirt or traveling coffee mug that includes your logo and not get sick of it or question why it was designed the way it was after a few times of seeing it, it’s probably a good sign that you made the right choices along the way and can move forward with your new logo. There are a handful of websites you can use to develop small batches of swag, such as:
- CustomInk for t-shirts, mugs, and other items
- StickerMule for stickers, labels, and magnets
- Startup Threads for custom swag packs
Producing a small batch of swag can also be a great way to test your name and logo in front of your friends, your family members, and strangers you meet while walking down the street. What other tips would you recommend to new entrepreneurs getting ready to design their first logo? Leave a comment for us below!