Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lesson #131: How to Design a Logo & Tagline

Posted By: George Deeb - 12/12/2012


& Comment

Your company's logo and tagline are often the first visual experience a person has with your brand and company.  And, you always want to make a good first impression with potential customers, employees, partners and investors, coming across as someone they want to do business with.  This post will address what research should you do in preparing for a logo and tagline design project, what creative elements should go into designing a logo and who can help you with the actual design itself.

In terms of research, it is always good to get a sense to how others in your industry are marketing themselves first, to see what you are up against.  So, visit a bunch of sites in your industry. You always want to come across as equal to, or better than, the other players in your space.  Your logo and branding can't feel like 2003 in design, if you are trying to come across as a 2013 next-generation product or service.  And, you want to think about colors and logo treatments that won't easily get confused with others in your space (e.g., if other companies are using blue, perhaps you use orange to stand out).  Unless, you need to bias colors that are the default color for your industry (e.g., green for eco-friendly companies), or you want to use colors to create a certain brand mood (e.g., red for speed or excitement).  And, don't forget about unintended missteps, like picking a red color (symbolic of losses) for a company that helps drive profits (in the black or in the green).

As for the logo design itself, I am typically a fan of a clean company name in a sharp font, a memorable graphic image to the left (which is optional) and a company tagline below the name (also optional, but much preferred for startups).  The font style of the company name should be representative of your industry (e.g., block university letters, if appealing to college sports fans), as certain fonts will help you to better communicate what your business does.  The graphic image should uniquely tell your company story (e.g., an airplane encircling a globe, for an international air travel business), and be easily identifiable on a stand alone basis (e.g., as your Twitter profile image, or mobile app icon).  And, the tagline for a startup should best describe what your business does, in as few words as possible, being careful not to be too vague to start.  For example, for Nike, "Just Do It" works well for a 40 year old brand that the world knows for high performance athletic wear.  But, for their startup years, "High Performance Running Shoes" would work better, helping to simply explain what the company does before any brand awareness has been built.

In terms of the designer doing the work, you have many options if you need an outside resource.  Here is my list of reputable design firms in Chicago.  Focus on the ones with branding and logo design expertise.  But, frankly, why hire one firm for a logo, that may charge up to $5,000 for their design, when you can get over 100 logo samples to choose from, for only a few hundred dollars, when working with crowdsourced designer sites like Crowdspring, 99 Designs or DesignCrowd.  I just used Chicago-based Crowdspring for a logo design project for one of my clients, and was very pleased with the results.

As a case study, take a look at the Red Rocket logo and tagline on this site.  I wanted to come across as a professional consulting and fund-raising firm that knows how to help startups get their businesses off the ground at warp speed.  I think our logo and tagline does a good job of telling that story, otherwise it wouldn't have caught your attention to keep reading the content of this post.

At the end of the day, you only have a few seconds to make a good first impression and clearly communicate "your story" and brand message.  Your logo, graphic and tagline can go a long way to telling that story and getting the attention of your target audience.  So, take the time, and get it right.

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