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Design a Logo that’s Right for You

Wednesday, November 28, 2007   By Mike Reddy


Attracting new customers and getting them to recognise the benefits of using their product is a perennial problem for SME business owners. One basic brand element with the capacity to attract attention and enhance the way the public views your business is the logo you use.

Developing an effective logo means thinking carefully about two issues; the graphic image that will work best for you and how to get it translated into a good piece of artwork. Coming up with an image begins by defining what your business is about - what does it deal in and how do you want customers to think of you? A house is a natural logo element for a real estate agent, a tree for a nursery. But images can also represent concepts such as reliability or growth (think of the associations of an acorn or an elephant) and some firms might prefer to foreground what they stand for rather than what they do.

Even an entirely abstract design might create the right message for some businesses - a young high tech company can use orbits or geometric shapes to create a dynamic image.To focus your thinking, summarise the message you want to convey in a statement like: ‘We are a construction firm specialising in low energy, environmentally friendly housing.' Keep the statement simple. You don't want to include so much that you can't hit on an image that encompasses the core message you want to get across. A simple and attractive logo has the best longevity. Now think about the images that might suit your description. When you have a suitable statement worked out and some preferred images, you're ready to start the design phase. To turn out a really good design it's usually best to call on the services of a professional graphicdesigner. Because they are familiar with a wide range of graphic elements and with how to match them to the aspirations of a business, they may also have some valuable ideas to offer in the way of an image.Check out a number of designers and ask to see examples of their work, especially logos they've designed for other firms. If you like what you see and the price is satisfactory, you've found the right person for the job. Whether developing a DIY logo or working with a designer, keep in mind the factors that will influence its final usability and cost. Using lots of colours, a rainbow for example, is going to lead to expensive printing costs as well as difficulties in reproduction. Keep the number of colours to a minimum and you'll save quite a bit in the long run. If the logo is to appear only on stationery it's usually possible to reproduce any colours you like. If, however, you're going to use it in newspaper or magazine advertising, problems in reproducing colours can arise. As a general rule, the easier the logo is to reproduce the better it will meet your needs, both now and in the future. What size will it be reproduced in? Some logos look really great on a billboard but can't be seen when reduced to the size needed for a business card. The design has to work in both large and small scales. If you're designing your own logo stay away from clip art or the dummy logos that come with some programme on your PC. Chances are pretty good that someone else has already used them. You want a design unique to your business, so these just won't do. When you have everything worked out go ahead and develop several concept designs or get your designer to come up with a number.

That's plural - you'll need to see several possible versions of the logo before you decide on the one that works best. Even when you're sure you have a winner don't rush straight into having all your stationery reprinted. Give the new logo a test run with as many people as you can. Dummy up some business cards and letterheads with your new logo to see how it works on these two important items of stationery. Ask a range of people, including customers, to take a look at it and give you their impressions. If they all ask you "What does it mean?" or comment on how the colours clash, you need to rethink the design.

When you're absolutely certain your new logo is just right for your business, make it work for you - display it on every item of stationery your business uses as well as in your signs, advertisements and other public touchpoints. Every time people see the logo they should think of your firm.

Mike Reddy is a Chartered Accountant, business coach and advisor helping businesses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast to easily increase their profits and cash flow. He is currently President of the North Sydney Chamber of Commerce, a Regional Councillor for Sydney North East and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sydney leadership team. As well as advising businesses, Mike presents business development seminars and webinars and is regularly contacted by the media to comment on small business matters. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.