How to Design A Decent, Marketable Logo to Get Your Business Going (For Non-Marketers)May 22, 2023
Alright, so, before I begin, I’m just going to put out a disclaimer loud and clear: I’m not a designer. But I have worked with hundreds of business owners to get their business branded and off the ground.
I think designers and their input is extremely valuable, and this article is not meant in any way to dismiss the crucial expertise they bring to the table.
BUT sometimes, business owners start out on a shoestring budget.
Logo designers and graphic artists are out of the question. And so, DIY it is. Get rich or DIY trying?
(I just had to go and ruin it, didn’t I?)
Well, for those of you that are ready to roll up your sleeves and get this logo together one way or the other, let’s get right into it.
Now here’s a few key things to keep in mind when you’re designing your logo:
- You can’t please everyone, but if you had to focus on one group, it is your target audience or ideal customer.
- A logo is definitely essential, but it will not make or break your business. Whether you fail or succeed has nothing to do with your logo.
That’s everything else such as business model, product, service, integrity, customer service, and all the other things that go into getting a business on the winning track.
- A logo is, however, a fundamental identity piece that the world sees when you’re putting your business out there, so put some work and thought into it and make sure that you like it.
- You can ALWAYS rebrand later. The biggest corporations in the world do it.
- There are some great tools out there to design your logo. Your output might not be a technically perfect logo, but I’ll share a few universal rules here that you can follow to make sure it’s good enough to get the job done.
The job being – get your business out there and start selling. Ready?
Here are some universal rules on creating a decent logo even if you haven’t a creative bone in your body:
1. Beauty lies in simplicity
Keep it super simple. Your logo does not need to be a work of art – it just needs to be a neat, well-aligned representation of your business, and good enough so that you feel comfortable taking your brand out there.
Especially if this is the first avatar that your business is going to wear out in public, keep it uncomplicated. Maybe even just a word logo instead of trying a design beyond your expertise?
Minimalist logo design goes a long way, is pretty well-received, looks classy, and means that you don't have to think about complicated curves and figures.
2. Think big, test small
Always remember that your logo has got to look good in its tiniest and largest forms.
When you blow up a logo to full screen, it might look great with all the little details and colour shades. But remember that you're going to lose all that detail on a phone screen or in an app.
So, use large, easy-to-read fonts, bold strokes and big (ish) elements, so that when your logo is shrunk down to an icon or printed in the footer of a letterhead, it still looks clear, recognizable and stands strong.
3. Don’t ‘just design’ (Do your research)
Ok, so, let’s get this straight: No matter how much of a vision you have in your head for your logo, you don’t want to skip the research.
Do a clear target audience and buyer persona exercise. Take some time to get to know the brands, colors, styles, and cultural influences your target audience resonates with most closely.
Do they prefer Nike over other sportswear? What can you learn about them from their online habits, behaviours, and interactions?
Study your competition, check out what’s working and what isn’t working in your market.
Above all, carve out a space in the market that is yours and then think of how you want your logo to represent that space. Now don't confuse research with overthinking – research falls within the realms of thinking. Overthinking is pondering over it for eight weeks… implementing 108 revisions and still not having anything even close to a logo.
4. Life might be Technicolor, but your logo doesn’t need to be
Even if colour and vibrancy are a well-thought-out and deliberate part of your brand personality, be sparing with your use of multi-colours in your logo (and any other brand assets).
The best logos work beautifully in monochrome (just black or white), so avoid gradients and shading as the base of your logo design.
If your logo does not hold meaning or cannot be recognised in monochrome, then you should probably go back to the drawing board and think of simplifying it so that it does.
As for which colours to use for your brand and logo, here’s an interesting, in-depth article on color psychology explaining the pros, cons, and symbolism behind 12 widely-used colours.
5. Work it into the mix
It’s easy to stare at a logo for hours, or even days, tweak it, obsess over it and completely forget that it needs to exist alongside your brand name, and perhaps even a tagline.
It has to live on your website, your business cards, your social media channels, your print collateral, perhaps even be blown up by a projector.
As you're working on your logo, be sure to keep testing it in as many of these settings as possible. Throw it into a PowerPoint template, a website mock-up, or an image of a plain white cup to see how it would look.
Don’t forget that it doesn’t exist alone and will almost always be taken in along with the brand name, tagline, a product, or whatever else it is that is carrying your logo.
When you're building your business from the ground up, it can be challenging but gratifying when you knock every little brick into place yourself. There's just something about it that makes you want to puff your chest with pride.
Once again, I am not discrediting the expertise that a qualified or experienced designer would bring in, but I can think of a few different scenarios where you might not be ready to take your concept to a designer yet.
I know when I first started my content agency, or even now, when I’m branding my next business, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and decided to ‘scrap that idea’ for a brand name or logo that I’d been working on for two weeks.
That’s just how it is. So, why not just roll up your sleeves and give it a shot?
Even if you don’t have a logo at the end of it, you’ll still be richer for the experience.
Please feel free to run your ideas by me, ask me for more resources or information, or even schedule a chat with me to brainstorm some brand-building ideas. No judgment here, I promise.
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