Why is a logo so important?
A logo is a memorable graphic or logotype that identifies your product or service among the sea of brands. It doesn’t aim to encapsulate your mission statement or everything you sell, service or specialize in. Your logo is the foundation of your business identity and it works hard on your behalf. First impressions of that logo can make or break a potential customer’s impression of you.
Your logo should appear professional and appropriate to the business you’re in. It will be seen in ads, on merchandise, labels, signage, on the web and in social platforms. When you spread the word about your business, your logo is the unique and memorable graphic that gets associated with your business and you. Yes, it’s that important.
So can’t I just pick a cool font and go with that?
Good question! Two important things about this…
#1 If you’re using fonts/typefaces in advertising for a brochure or flyer, etc. then it’s fine to use whatever commercial font you choose. Notice I said “commercial font” because a lot of free fonts restrict their usage to personal projects (scrapbooking, homeschool use, etc.) My mantra, read the end-user licensing agreements associated with any font you download. If a font is restricted to personal use only, I don’t even download it, no matter how cool… it’s not worth the legal battle if I forget which one of the thousands of fonts I have ends up in a commercial piece and someone happens to recognize it. Just sayin’.
#2. A “bulletproof” logo design is unique and can’t be duplicated simply by typing your business name in a cool font. Bulletproof means it’s unique and not easily confused with a similar brand or another brand that uses the same font for their name. Developing that unique, custom logo, inspired by a cool font or not, requires a proficiency in computer graphics, and an understanding of print and web production, and/or social media standards and platforms.
But there are plenty of graphics on the web… can’t I use one of those?
In a nutshell, if you find a graphic online, it belongs to someone else—the artist, designer or photographer—unless they’ve licensed their artwork to be sold as stock under one of the plethora of stock agencies. Even still, unless the licensing agreement specifically says you can use the graphic for a logo, you’re headed for trouble.
Don’t count on using free, royalty-free or stock graphics for your logo unless you’re absolutely sure the end-user licensing agreement (EULA) permits you to do so… and even so, be wary. Unlike most advertising graphics and photography, logos are custom branding tools and are typically trademarked so that your company or organization has the exclusive right to use that logo to promote your products and services. Otherwise, you’d have several companies using the same graphic—leading to major confusion and lost dollars on any advertising you may invest in since you’ll also be advertising for the competition using that graphic, or something very similar. Your business is not generic—your logo should be anything but generic!
As a business owner there are many tasks that you alone must handle. Developing a professional logo isn’t one of them.
You could spend years learning about graphic design, printing processes, web standards and computer graphics software, but is that really what you want to spend your valuable time doing? Instead, take the time to talk with a professional designer about your business—how you do things differently from your competitors, what makes working with your company great, how you provide stellar customer service. Get clear about your business message and promise to your customers, then hire a designer to translate that into an effective, memorable logo that identifies your company (and you) professionally, and connects with your customer base.
Support your local creative. Find a designer in your community to collaborate with on an effective logo strategy for your business or organization.