Once you have your company name (see my blog on choosing a name), it's time to think about your company image. Here are some tips on designing a logo and considerations of branding.
- Use Google images of existing logos, free logo template websites (which narrow ideas down to your business area), and even Shutterstock to find ideas and inspiration.
- Are there local landmarks you could use, or your most iconic product etc?
- Create a mood board of your favourite elements.
- Don't copy someone else though. Apart from potential trademark breaches, you are your own company. Part of your business success will depend on your difference to the competition, so make sure your logo is unique too.
- Use Windows Paint or other basic image editing software to combine and play around with your chosen elements.
Branding is about more than just stamping your logo on everything – it's the font, colours, formatting, tone of voice – basically your entire business identity. You must keep all of these elements consistent to reinforce your image. It's a form of marketing.
DIY or Professional...
Designing a logo is one of the less time-consuming elements of setting up a business so is a good DIY task.
You may know your business best so DIY can be beneficial. Or you may not! If you are very new to starting your own business you may not yet be sure of exactly what you will be offering/selling/where etc. It can be helpful to draft your business plan first (see my blog on why you need a business plan) to give you a clearer idea. But it can also be wise to speak to a professional with experience of working with lots of businesses.
DIY logos may be more suitable for physical shops with little competition
Free logo sites will produce files you need for a relatively low cost such as £50 (eg logojoy.com).
You can ask friends and family for their thoughts on your logo and branding designs, but unless they have marketing experience, they will be limited to saying whether they like it or not. And sometimes they won't tell you the truth for fear of hurting your feelings.
Business to business and luxury products need to stand out, be flawless, and very high quality so it's best to use a graphic design or branding agency.
A graphic designer will cost less than a branding agency. They will produce various designs for you to choose from, provide the high quality image files you need for your website and stationery etc and the font name and hex and CYK codes for the colours used. You need these so you can match your website and any literature etc to create brand consistency. A service such as this will set you back approx £500. A designer may be willing to advise you on your own logo design and provide the files and information you need at a lower price than starting from scratch.
Branding agencies will talk to you about your business, your target market etc and come up with not only your logo, but your straplines, and your entire styling.
There is lots of research you can do yourself on branding, and you may be creatively minded and able to design your own logo. But the only way to know if it works is to try it. And sometimes to try is to fail.
Expert help can be expensive, but experience is invaluable. You may be on a tight budget, but it is wiser to spend your money on solid foundations such as branding than throw it at advertising which proves ineffectual because potential customers get put off by your business image.
Who you are is your branding and your branding is who you are. You will be building your whole business around this so you need to be confident you have got it right.
The Dipitus Story
I began by simply searching for “logos” on Google Images, and downloading ones I liked. I didn't have to like the entire logo, it could just have been elements such as the font, the colours, the relationship between words and image etc.
From the logo template sites I entered 'communications' as my business category. Once I'd weeded through the phones, I saw some logos with a pen or pencil which were appropriate for a writing business, so I was drawn to those (see the pun?).
I went back to Google to look at real examples of logos like this. Some of them were also mountains and as I love hillwalking, I liked that too.
But they seemed a bit old-fashioned, and lacking the dynamism of the 'looks' I'd picked out at first.
I looked at using the letters of my company name to form a logo. Shutterstock was useful for this, as were some self-designed attempts at intertwining. (NB this was when I was simply going to be called 'Yorkshire Writing Services'.)
The logo template sites also had speech bubbles and marks. I looked back on Google and saw some speech bubbles in orange and blue and really liked the colours. They stood out, weren't garish, and looked contemporary. I preferred speech marks as bubbles were more suggestive of oral communication. So I tinkered with speech mark layouts in those colours (no fancy software required, just Paint in Windows).
In the end, it was the French version of speech marks (guillemets) that I liked better as they have a sharper, more modern look, and are also suggestive of brackets. I opted to have them enclose my business name which was in a typewritten style font. I played around with the blue and orange as colour combinations. Then I worked with a graphic designer for some professional input and output for my finished product.