It's a sore spot for designers: meeting someone new and asking for a business card, to discover that horror of all horrors, they have created their own logo. We call these the DIYers. DIYers might be new business owners who a) don't think they need a logo or b) cannot afford to have a logo designed, so end up putting together their own logo out of a generic clipart image and some poorly placed text. These might look familiar:
Common culprits are realtors, health professionals and financial advisors. Believe it or not, even these industries can have logos that don't involve faceless characters, a key/house symbol, a lion or a bank. A lot of these DIY logos are the result of Google images, which unfortunately doesn't always show the best examples of logos, so business owners replicate what they see for their own. Here is why this method is not effective:
- Quality: The logo you create for yourself is likely going to be a low resolution .jpg. This means that at the size you create the logo, it might look great. But if you were to increase the size, it will appear grainy and lose clarity.
- Originality: Using the same symbol as many other companies may work fine as your logo - but this will make your business seem just like every other competitor in the same industry. Don't be a follower, stand out from the pack!
- Professionalism: When you introduce your business to a colleague or potential client, a clipart DIY logo looks dated and unprofessional. This may give the impression that you do not take your business seriously and therefore your client may not either.
Going back to the DIYers: a business owner often creates his or her own logo because especially when starting out, they do not have the funds to invest in proper branding. Fair enough, as a small business owner myself, I understand firsthand all the expenses involved and having to prioritize spending. You may choose to get branding done by a professional (highly recommended) later on as your business grows, but not in the early stages. Now even though I recommend that you establish your brand from Day One, I don't believe that not being able to do so should in any way deter you from launching your business. So if you do choose to go the DIY route, here are my best recommendations as a designer:
1. Keep it simple. Write your business name in a simple typeface, all in black or in two colours maximum. Do not go overboard with the fancy fonts or the colours! The simpler you keep the logo, the better set up you'll be if you get branding done later on and clients aren't expecting an identity in 4 different colours and a script font. Look at some of these examples:
Simple, clean and professional. If your usual computer fonts aren't cutting it, try out something new on a font website.
2. Create the logo in Adobe Illustrator, in .ai or .eps format. These are called vector files and they are the best format to use (no more .jpg) because you can virtually resize them to any dimension and they will always look clear. Adobe offers Illustrator on a free trial basis, but if you can't or prefer not to use the program for any reason, try Canva and create the logo as large as you can in .png format. . png images have a transparent background, so you'll be able to use your logo on top of any background without an ugly white box surrounding it.
3. Create a basic colour palette with 3 colours at most. This website gives you great ideas on complementary colours. Write down the HEX codes (# followed by 5 characters) so you can find the same colours in any program you are using. Then stick to this colour palette for anything associated with your business.
4. Choose one to two brand fonts. Usually these are the ones you use for your text logo (hence, keeping it simple). Basic practice is to have one main title font to use for headlines and titles, and one simpler font to use for any letterhead, documents and collateral. Try choosing a classic sans serif typeface to use as your secondary font. Consistent typography is another key element of your brand identity which will make a big difference in presenting your brand.
As an alternative option, did you know that there are hundreds of premade logo templates out there that you can customize with some basic knowledge of Illustrator? Click here to browse one of our favourite sites for quality, high resolution premade logos that will be great to use until you are ready for custom branding.
That's it! If you can make the investment, do consult a professional for your branding, it will make a big difference. But if you need a simple logo to tide you over until you get more established, stick to the guidelines and remember: simple is best and consistency is key.