An entrepreneur has to be a Jack (or Jill) of all trades – along with acting as an accountant, a manager, a secretary, and a salesperson, new business owners often have to dabble in graphic design and come up with their own business logo from scratch.
Most people have some idea as to what they want their logo to look like, but the process of transitioning from an idea to the finished product can be bumpy, especially for those without much artistic talent. No matter how experienced you may be artistically, here’s my advice when it comes to designing your own company logo.
Three Tips for Designing Your Own Company Logo:
1. Keep it Simple
As major brands begin to parse down their own logos, minimalist design has become a bit more mainstream which is a good thing. Your logo should not be a mish-mash of colorful pictures and words – no one wants to spend ten minutes trying to identify the different parts of a logo.
Logos are supposed to be a visual method of distinguishing your product, and thereby your company’s reputation, from those of your competitors. A simple design can also be very striking as the entire logo can be taken it at once, rather than section by section. Just compare the current logo of Starbucks to its first one, or Apple’s transition from the Newtonian woodcut to the much simpler bitten-apple design.
Textual elements, if any, should also be fairly basic, as you do not want your text to overpower your actual design. Keep things clean and keep things simple.
2. Be Consistent
When you begin working on your logo, start thinking about laying out a color profile. Most designers like to stick with three main colors, and then use variations of those colors to create a full palette. This way your website, logo, packaging, and marketing can all use the same, or at least very similar, colors.
Utilizing a color profile early on also helps you establish trade dress, which is another visual method of distinguishing your product and company. Find three primary colors that go well together, and keep in mind that your text will have to be in one of those colors. Something like light blue, yellow, and white, then, are not the best choices for a color profile. A color profile along the lines of a darker color, a lighter version of that color, and white is usually fairly safe.
3. Protect Your Work
A lot of business may think they are too small to trademark their logo, but all companies can fall victim to intellectual property theft, even if the business is run out of a home office. Obviously, a lot of thought and effort goes into designing a logo, and there are plenty of people looking for a quick solution to their own branding problems. Once you settle on a final design for your logo, begin filing for a trademark. You should also try searching through the USPTO’s database of registered trademarks, just so you are confident your logo is, indeed, unique.
Along with being an important part of a business’s identity, a logo lets you inject a little bit of your own personality and creativity into your company’s image. However, you cannot approach the design process like you would for most other types of art – a logo has a very specific purpose, and it needs to function as intended. An expertly drawn, highly complex logo will not have the same branding power as a minimalistic, eye-pleasing design. For whatever design you finally settle on, don’t forget to protect it with a trademark – the last thing you want is for someone else to profit off of your hard work.
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Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation, an online filing services company that specializes in incorporations and LLCs. Find her online at mycorporation.com and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.