Logo Design

What every small business should know when getting a logo designed

LOGO DESIGN | WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Logo design is likely the most important visual aspect of your new business. It’s so important that you get this done correctly the first time. If you don’t, you’ll find yourself needing to replace a whole bunch of materials in the future. The logo is often the very first impression a prospective client or vendor is going to have about your company. Make sure you’re making the right impression.

When you begin the process of either creating a logo or having a professional do it for you, it can feel overwhelming. There are so many options available to you, and it can be hard to know where to begin. The first thing you should consider is what not to do.

  • Clipart insanity

I cannot tell you how often I see new businesses trying to cut the corners of logo design by downloading clipart from the google images section. While you may tell yourself and others that you’re just using the clipart as a temporary solution, what you’re actually doing is shooting yourself in the foot. If someone’s first impression of you is that you don’t care about your own business, why would they care to do business with you?

Below is a logo that’s actually being used by a professional therapist. I bring this up because recently The Grey Matter worked on some projects for a therapist in the Denver area. As part of our research, we like to look at what the competition has created for themselves. This clipart logo is in no way giving off the professional messaging that someone seeking therapy would want to see.

bad logo design

If you’re someone that wants to be taken seriously if you want your new business to be taken seriously, then you should be avoiding Fiverr like the plague. The old adage “you get what you pay for” applies here. This website is littered with people trying to make a quick dollar, and they prey on those who don’t take matters like this seriously.

When using companies like Fiverr and 99 Designs, you’re going to get one of two things. The first likely outcome is that you’re going to get a generic logo. The logo will be one that doesn’t capture what it is that your company is trying to convey. It might be a recycled logo that they change just enough that they can sell it over and over again. The other likely outcome is that you’ll get clipart-based designs to choose from. These are not customized and are widely regarded as very amateurish. This is what you can expect for the price.

  • Family ties

The last thing that I’ll address is the idea of hiring someone in the family. Please don’t do this. Save yourself the headache. There’s nothing worse than when you feel like you have to use the logo that your cousin made for you.

KNOW THE LOGO DESIGN LINGO

Just like anything else, logo design comes with its own language. Luckily, there are only a few terms that you really need to know.

  • Vector vs Raster
  • Filetypes: .AI .PDF >PSD .SVG .PNG .JPG
  • Outlines vs Live (editable) text

Vector artwork is something you definitely need to understand when getting a logo design for your new business. I want you to imagine a line graph. If you were told to put a dot at the 2:2 position, it would mean you’d start at the zero point of the graph, count two spaces up, then two spaces to the right. That’s where your dot would live. Here’s the interesting part, if you zoomed into that graph, you might see all the numbers that were between the numbers zero and two. Let’s say as you zoomed in, you could see: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4… all the way up to the number 2. It wouldn’t matter how much you zoomed in or out, your dot would still live at 2:2.

This is the basic principle of vector graphics. Each point the designer creates in their vector-based program can be scaled infinitely up or down. The same file could be printed the size of a building or as small as the head of a pin.

On the other hand, raster images contain pixels. Every photo you take with your phone or camera is a raster image. These types of images can only be scaled up or down a certain amount before they begin to appear either blurry or indistinguishable.

What this means is, when you’re getting a logo design for your new business, you want to make sure that the designer is using vector-based software like Adobe Illustrator to create your logo. Furthermore, when you receive your logo files at the end of your contract, you need to make sure that you have all of the appropriate file types for later use.

Vector Image for Logo Design
Raster image

The two images above show the difference between a vector (left) and a raster (right) image. Notice how sharp the curved lines are in the vector image and how the raster has a feathered edge.

You are going to want to make sure that you have the following: AI file with all layers in outline form (I will explain below what this means). You will need the same file in a PDF file (PDF files can indeed be vector files). You will want a JPG or JPEG file. These can be used for things other than printing. You will want a PNG file with a transparent background. These can be used on your website. You will want an SVG file especially if you have a web designer worth their salt. These are vector files that can also be used for your website. You’re going to want to make sure that your designer gives you the font(s) or typeface(s) that were used in the creation of your logo. Lastly, you’ll want to make sure that the designer gives you a detailed list of the colors that were used. Make sure to ask them for the hexadecimal (hex) codes for each and every color of your logo design.

The last item on our list is “outlines.” I want to be clear up front, if your designer doesn’t know what setting a design to outlines means, you need a new designer, like now. Outlines are actually not at all what it sounds like. When we think of the term, we think of drawing around the perimeter of an object. This is not the case, well not exactly. “Outlines” is the final step of a design, where the designer changes the editable text into shapes (for all intents and purposes).

Let me explain in a more clear way. Letters are nothing more than shapes. The computer allows us to use our keyboard to add these shapes to our design (typing). When text is editable, we can change it in multiple ways, just as you can change the text in a word document. You’re also able to change the look of the text by changing the font, right? Right. When a designer changes the text to outlines, what’s actually happening is the designer is telling the computer to treat the text that was created as if it was a shape that was drawn, and not as the actual text. We do this because if the logo’s font doesn’t exist on the recipient’s computer, it will default to something else. Obviously, this is an issue, especially if the recipient is a printing facility. Setting a design/text to “Outlines” certifies that your design will look the exact same on every device it’s sent to. It will also look the same every time that it’s printed.

LOGO DESIGN AND LIMITED COLOR USE

Adding a bunch of colors to a logo can lead to some limitations that you may not have considered. The Grey Matter can perform a brand audit for your new business, or for your rebrand, but we will almost always recommend a limited color pallet. There are a lot of reasons for limiting the colors.

First and foremost, there’s a hidden cost to using lots of colors. Take a look at the logo below. While it’s attractive, this would cost a small fortune to make into channel letters (signage on a storefront). You would likely need to either use a totally different type of signage, or you’d have to change the logo completely to keep the costs down.

Furthermore, anytime you print the logo in black and white, it’s going to lose a lot of its appeal. In fact, with this particular logo, when it’s set to black and white, it looks like you’re running out of black ink.

Lastly, your logo should be memorable. You want your logo to be stuck in the minds of the people that you’re trying to attract to your business. Take a look at the logo above. Really look at it. Stare at this logo for 10 seconds. Now close your eyes. What color is the letter “r”? If you couldn’t remember, that proves the point.

LOGO DESIGN AND FONT USAGE

Nothing speaks more loudly to your audience than the font choice that’s used with your logo. You may not believe this, but the truth of the matter is font usage and the art of typography plays an enormous role in the way people look at your company.

Without getting into the weeds of typography, you should consider the following when having your logo designed.

  • The industry you work in
  • The feel that you’re trying to get across to your clients

I will have another article that goes into detail about typography. For now, it’s important to remember that every component of your logo needs to be thoroughly thought out if you want the best result. This absolutely includes any typographical elements that accompany your logo.

LOGO DESIGN FINAL THOUGHTS

A logo is something that should speak to your potential clients. It should be inviting to them specifically. If you go off track with this element of your business, it’s going to end up haunting you later. The Grey Matter provides brand audits as a service. We take a look at all of these and other elements to create the best possible outcome for our clients. We highly recommend that you take the time to find the right designer for your company and that you don’t take shortcuts when it comes to designing your logo. We may not be the right fit for your company, and that’s ok. Let us help you find the right fit. Contact us today for a free thirty-minute consultation. If we’re not the right fit, we’ll make sure we help find you someone that is.