What’s in a Logo?

What’s in your logo?What's in a Logo

I’m glad you asked…Think of AT&T, McDonalds, Apple or even The YMCA. Do you know where the names and logos came from? Do you know what the letters in YMCA or AT&T stand for? Or where McDonalds got it’s name? Doesn’t really matter does it? When we see a graphic of a bite out of the side of a fruit, we know we’re looking at some cool, technological stuff that sometimes plays great music through ‘white’ earbuds.

I once had a client tell me his business consultant told him he doesn’t need a logo. Really? I asked him to close his eyes and mentioned several companies like Nike and Pepsi among others. And each time, he was able to tell me what the logo looked like. Why? Because Logos work. They brand a sense of quality, deliciousness, consistency, speed, hype, technology, caring, personal service and everything you want to convey about your company.

It doesn’t take a lot of colors and specialty fonts. And the logo doesn’t necessarily have to explain what you do. In so many cases, the name of the business is the logo. And sometimes the name of the company doesn’t convey what they do either. It’s the consistent marketing of the brand that eventually makes your logo synonymous with who you are.

Finally, we think about how it will be used. Are you going to screen print t-shirts? Are you willing to go full color or do you want it to look good as a one color print. Will you embroider it? Too much detail will get lost. What about Business Cards, Websites, Brochures? All of this goes into the creative juices that design a great logo! Sometimes, simplicity is the winner.

The steps to take in creating a logo:

  1. Does the client have anything in mind?
    • Colors, fonts, graphics
    • Do they want a graphic involved or just use the name of the business and make that the logo
  2. The initial stages of logo development are black and white (B&W)
    • The logo should always look good as a B&W image
    • This means it’s the shapes that grabs your attention, not just colors
    • At some point, you many be advertising in a local bulletin or paper, and can only print B&W — sometimes, full color just won’t print well B&W
  3. The graphic should be designed as a vector image using software like Adobe Illustrator
    • This allows for the logo to be enlarged or reduced WITHOUT LOSS OF QUALITY — think Banners!
    • So many times, we’ll receive artwork created in a raster based program which means it’s made up of lots and lots of pixels (dots) — these CAN NOT be enlarged without loss of quality
    • The initial design can be saved as an AI (Adobe Illustrator) or EPS (Encapsulated Post Script) file
    • Your [real] graphic designer will love you for it
  4. Font choices are so important
    • You wouldn’t expect to use a nice calligraphic font for a karate studio or use big/bold ‘fat’ text for a women’s fine clothes store
    • Don’t use a myriad of fonts in your logo — 2 (maybe 3) should be max
    • But using different styles of the same font is fine — such as italic, bold, italic/bold, condensed, etc.
  5. Several layouts are created and shown to the client — remember, all B&W
    • From this point, they usually find bits and pieces of different layouts they like
      • For instance, they might like the graphic from one but the font from another
    • Then we put the different choices together to finalize the original, B&W logo!
  6. Next, we add colors
    • Be careful, just because you can use colors doesn’t mean you should use all of them!
    • Red is a very strong color — think blood, Green can convey money, Blue is cool and so on
      • Red: lighten that and you get pink: For some reason, folks think when you lighten red, you get light red…no, you get pink!
    • You shouldn’t overlay red on blue or blue on red — for many, this color combination creates a halo around the image due to varying degrees of color blindness
    • Certain blues, if not produced with the right CMYK color mix, will print purple
      • Your designer should know this
    • Choose your colors carefully– try using a Pantone book of colors and look at the different paper stock samples
      • The same color printed on different materials like matte, semi-gloss, gloss, canvas, etc. CAN AND WILL PRINT DIFFERENTLY — so be prepared
  7. Once the right color mix is completed, the logo is jazzed
    • This can mean adding special effects like shadows, highlights, bevels, metallic imagery, lighting and so much more
    • The art is created in a raster file using a program like Photoshop
    • This is SIZE and RESOLUTION dependent
      • Meaning, once created, you CAN NOT enlarge it — if you need it bigger, you have to recreate it — but you can reduce it in physical size and resolution
      • You can not add resolution/increase the DPI — although so many folks try
      • Please note: software like Illustrator gets better and better and can also provide many special effects that were once only available in a raster based program like Photoshop
  8. Now that your logo is complete, use it everywhere!
    • Business Cards, Letterhead, Envelopes
    • Email signatures (but keep it small for download speeds)
    • Post Cards, Direct Mail, Brochures, Slim Jims, Counter Cards
    • Decals and Labels
    • Websites, eNewsletters
    • T-shirts, Jackets, Caps and Bags
    • Promotional/Specialty items
    • Did we mention everywhere?
  9. This also means using the colors in your logo in all your media — staying with a color theme helps with ‘consistency’
    • If you’re not sure what the colors are and you don’t have software that uses Pantone colors, you can ask your designer for either the closest RGB (Red, Green, Blue) or Hex value — especially the lighter and darker versions of your specific colors
    • These are great if you want to color the background of brochures and business cards — so it’s not all just white

Can you update your logo later on? Yes. But you don’t want to change it too much — because if it looks entirely different, you’ll have to start a new marketing campaign. For example:

  • Apple updated their logo, but all they did was take the rainbow colors out and made it solid…no big deal
  • Pepsi did a complete redesign, so unless you have their marketing budget, I’d think twice about a complete redo

Your logo will say a lot about you and your business. In the end, what goes into a logo can be as important as what it goes on.


Posted on November 24, 2013, in Marketing: Starting a Business. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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