Logos easier to make, but need expertise

  • Friday, February 28, 2014 12:55pm

I love to design logos. In its simplest form, a logo is a wonderful combination of typesetting, graphics and market positioning. With social channels, the web, cable TV networks and all kinds of co-promotions, the right logo is a crucial component to the marketing program of any business.

When I first began my career, creating a logo was a complicated, time-consuming process, making them a luxury that only those businesses with a considerable advertising budget.

Most small businesses did not have a logo. Keep in mind, when I began designing logos there were no computers.

In fact, the only “technology” available was a pocket calculator. When I set out to design a new logo for a client I used to sit on a stool, hanging over a drawing table, with black magic marker in hand, scribbling different typestyles until my hand was numb (I still have the calluses I developed from back then).

This scribbling would eventually lead to tracing. I’d take what I already had and slide it under another piece of white paper, moving the letters and incorporating graphics. Generally the layout paper used with magic markers was too thick to see through, thus making tracing almost impossible. I’d do my many hours of tracing by taping the original piece of paper to a window and then tape another piece of white paper over it. The sunlight shining through the window would enable me to copy what I wanted to keep, taping and untaping the paper as I moved it around the window to reposition the letters underneath.

Eventually, I would have a rendition that fulfilled my vision for that particular logo. I’d then do another version, using colored markers, so that the client could better visualize the new logo. This was just the design process. After that the rendered logo still had to go through typesetting, paste-up and photostating.

Creating a logo required a lot of time as well as access to some very expensive equipment. It’s easy to see why logos were expensive and out of reach for most small businesses.

Computers have really simplified the process of creating a logo. Essentially anyone with the right publishing software possesses all the tools needed to create a logo. That’s where the problem is. What I’m finding is that many of the logos that small businesses have today are not very good.

I think that’s because a lot of businesses are “designing” their logo themselves. Which is fine provided there is someone in your office with the expertise needed to do such an extremely important task.

Your logo is a crucial part of your marketing. It will affect market share and sales. An investment in your logo right now will pay huge dividends in the not too distant future. When it comes to designing that logo, think of it as the valuable asset it really is.

You wouldn’t ask someone without experience to build the addition to your manufacturing facility. Don’t ask someone without any expertise to design your logo. Hire a professional designer. You can find a good logo designer by asking for a referral.

If there’s a business you know of with a logo you think is good, ask them who did it. When interviewing potential designers always ask to see samples of other logos they have designed. And, just like when working with a skilled carpenter, don’t tell your logo designer how to build it. Give them direction on what sort of message you want your logo to reflect and then get out of their way. The design process will be different for every designer, but you should expect to see several different design interpretations based on your directions. You will then be able to adapt any of those designs until you have one that best suits your needs. Your logo designer should be able to guide you through this entire process. I personally have created a three-step process for logo design that makes it easy for my clients to make the right choices in choosing a new logo. In the end you should receive both black-only and color versions of your new logo.

They should arrive to you in TIFF, JPG and EPS (vector) formats. Here’s the best part — computers have eliminated the arduous process of sketching, tracing, typesetting and paste-up. A skilled designer can work fast, making it cost-effective for almost any business to have a professionally produced logo for as little as $300.

As always, if you have comments about this article or questions about your own business marketing, I’m here to help.

David L. Cook, president and creative director of Origin East West, a local company providing strategic marketing, graphic design and creative copywriting to a wide range of businesses on both coasts. Contact him at 425-315-6464 or david@origineastwest.com.