What is a logo?

In bare terms, a logo is a visual representation of a company.. It might be just a symbol, just text or both. It sounds simple enough right? Find a graphic you like, slap on your company name and you’re done.

Well.

No. Not really.

I’m often surprised at how little thought many businesses put into their logo. Often the first time owners think about it is when they go to get business cards made, so they rush design something because they think they need one.  A good logo design requires thought and planning.  A good designer will ask many questions in order to ensure your logo will grow with you.

A Logo is often the first thing people think of when they think of a company, it helps them recognize you from a distance, find you on a shelf crowded with other similar items, etc. It should reflect your business in a positive way, be memorable, distinct, and easily recognized – often at a distance.

For example, Joe comes to me and says he needs a logo for his ice cream shop. I could spend a couple minutes and come up with something like this:

It’s kinda cute, it gets the “Joe’s Ice Cream” message across clearly.

But there are problems:

  • What if Joe is planning on expanding in a few months to include sandwiches and coffee? Hmmm.  I don’t think Joe wants three sets of business cards, three sets of signs, etc.
  • What if Joe is thinking of adding more stores and/or trademarking the Logo? He may run into problems here as well. There is already a Joe’s Ice Cream in the Bay Area with a similar logo.
  • While the design is different, it’s close in color to Baskin Robbin‘s Logo

What is wrong with using that color? Color is part of the Trademark – operating a similar business with the same color scheme can get you in trouble.  For example, a few years ago T-Mobile won a lawsuit over an AT&T subsidiary that was using T-Mobile’s distinct magenta-pink.

Maybe Joe is thinking “I’ll just get a new logo in a few months when I expand”.  That’s fine… BUT in the meantime his customers are learning to recognize his shop by the the ice cream cone. Are they still going to come when he swaps that out in a few months? The casual customer may think he went out of business and was replaced by a new shop. If McDonald’s suddenly changed from Golden Arches to Pink Rectangles would you still be able to find them when driving down the freeway?

By no means are you stuck with what ever you choose at first, McDonald’s has simplified their design over the years as have many other major brands. Just be aware that it can come with a cost losing brand recognition. Big companies rarely make drastic changes to their logo, instead they make small changes over time to keep their logo looking modern, but still recognizable.

 

Logo design, and branding in general should be part of a business’s strategic plan.

Many of the same questions I ask as a designer are the same as one asked when creating a business plan.

  • Who will buy your product?
  • Who is the product ultimately for?
  • Where will you be doing business?
  • What are your plans for growth?
  • Do you plan on Trademarking or Servicemarking the logo?
  • How will you be using the Logo?

All of these questions, and many more are part of the design process. Knowing your competition is important, as the design should help differentiate you from them. Where you plan on selling your product is also important. The meaning of symbols and colors vary by region and culture.

Another potential problem with waiting until you need cards/signs to design the logo is when you go to Cards n Banners R Us ‘s website (I made that up… please don’t look for them!) is you are not likely to get the copyright to the design. Why is owning the copyright important? What if you want to have merchandise printed elsewhere with the logo? Legally, another company cannot print for you if you do not have the copyright. Many print companies, hold not only the image files, but the copyright so you are forced to only do business with them.

 

What you will get from Cow and Rooster Design:

  • An Original Design
  • All Image Files in multiple formats.
  • Research into competition’s logos and possible Trademark conflicts
  • Legal Copyright Transfer
  • Style Guide – includes color codes, fonts, Usage recommendations such as placement, relative size, and more.

Hopefully you are not concerned about cost after reading this. While yes, I do go beyond what a basic printer will do, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s priced out of reach for small and new businesses.

Contact Cow & Rooster

Have more questions?

Call 209-432-9278 or email info@cowandrooster.com

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