Logos | How To Create a Logo for Your Small Business

As a small business, your logo is your main identifying mark. It portrays what you stand for as a company; is one of the first things that comes to mind when customers think of your brand; and when used effectively, can be leveraged to create loyalty and to promote the positive attributes of your business. In this post, we discuss the different types of logos that exist; the important factors that comprise a logo; and the steps required in creating a logo that is both effective and aesthetically appealing.

Types of Logos Three types of logos exist — font-based, illustrative, and abstract:

1.) Font-Based Font-based logos consist primarily of text. Think of companies like Google, Facebook, and Sony. All use text as the foundation of their logos, and then add a “twist” to make them unique, distinct, and memorable. If you’re a jeweler, you’d likely use a classy, delicate font, whereas a construction firm might use a more rigid, bold font to exude durability and hardiness. 2.) Illustrative– Illustrative logos depict what your company does or what it stands for. Take the NBA, for example. Its logo features a basketball player dribbling a ball– the core of the entire brand. 3.) Abstract– Abstract logos contain symbols that appear meaningless until your company communicates the underlying associations. The Nike “swoosh” and McDonalds’ golden arches are both famous examples of abstract logos.

Successfully linking your brand to an abstract logo requires considerable time, effort, and marketing dollars, which growing small businesses can rarely afford. Additionally, font-based logos tend to be too generic. Therefore, a logo that clearly illustrates what your small business does or how it benefits customers may prove the best choice. Many experts believe individuals should be able to tell what you do just by looking at your logo.

Brainstorming Ideas 1.) Determine your message. Decide what you want your logo to communicate about your company. Consider your target market, the tone you wish to convey, and what factors will set you apart from competitors. 2.) Study your industry. Research competitors in your industry. Focus on the types of logos they use and whether or not you consider them effective. From there, determine how you plan to differentiate your logo from those of rivals. 3.) Keep it simple. Your logo must be clean, functional, and scalable. It should look just as good on your business cards and packaging as it does on the front of your building or the side of your delivery van. Taking cost and various mediums into consideration, try to keep your logo design to a three-color maximum. It should also look good reproduced in black-and-white. 4.) Avoid trendy designs. You want your logo to remain current for the next 10 to 20 years. Don’t plan to make multiple logo changes, and if you undergo a re-design, make alterations gradually. Quaker Oats, for instance, modified the “Quaker Man” on its packaging over a 10-year period to avoid alienating customers.

Hiring A Designer Unless you — or someone within your small business — have graphic design experience, consider hiring a designer. Graphic design doesn’t have to be expensive — there are hundreds of local, independent designers who are reasonably priced and produce excellent work. Do your research, shop around, and find someone familiar with both your field and your competition. Another option is crowdsourcing your logo design through sites like Fiverr, 99designs, and crowdSPRING.

Protecting Your Logo Once you’ve created a logo that conveys your message, is aesthetically pleasing, and looks different from competitors, you’ll want to protect it from being used by others. To do so, apply for a trademark from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. For additional assistance, contact their Trademark Assistance Center (TAC) at 1-800-786-9199. Additionally, Creighton University School of Law’s Community Economic Development Clinic is a free service for small businesses that can help you put together your trademark application.

Your logo is an essential part of your overall brand and will be used in all of your marketing materials, so spending some time and money now will pay off exponentially in the long run. Feel free to share your comments below, or contact our SBDC office at (712) 325-3376 for help in developing a logo for your small business.

The Iowa Western Small Business Development Center is a free resource for small businesses and start-ups in Southwest Iowa. We serve seven counties – including Cass, Fremont, Harrison, Mills, Page, Pottawattamie, and Shelby – and provide consulting services to help businesses start, grow, and prosper.

(Photo credit: Doug88888 / Flickr)

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Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA). All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA