written by DWKC Communications Director Erin Billingsley
What is a logo?
Let’s start at the beginning – what is a logo? A logo is a symbol used to identify your business. It is often the first and most important identifier of your brand.
Think of some of the most popular big box stores or restaurants – I bet you could draw their logomarks without even thinking. Target? Easy. McDonald’s? Seared into memory. Nike? Yup. You don’t even need their business name to be included in order to recognize who they are and what they sell.
lo·go /ˈlōɡō/ a symbol or other design adopted by an organization to identify its products, uniform, vehicles, etc.
A logo is used for a variety of purposes, from business cards and websites to magazine ads and maybe even fancy little pens. It must be versatile and designed to be flexible. Too much detail and your logo will look like an indiscriminate blob when shrunk down to the size of a nickel. Too many super-specific colors and it won’t translate in all mediums. If you cannot read or make out part of your logo when shrunk down very small, or when viewed in a single color, then it is not a successful logo.
What files do I need?
This also means that it must be created correctly from the start and saved in various file types and color spaces, not just one. PNG has become a buzzword in regard to designing logos over the past few years – and although it is a very important piece of the puzzle, a single file type will not carry you through every possible use.
A vector file with the endings of .ai, .eps, .svg or .pdf are the ideal filetypes to ensure your logo design is scalable and usable for digital and print usage - and in fact, you need ALL of these (plus those .pngs and .jpgs) in your digital storage file to be a prepared professional.
What kind of logo do I need?
That's right, there are different kinds of logo designs. From logotypes to logomarks, wordmarks, or a combination, it is important to decide what will work best for YOUR business.
A logomark is the symbol that represents your brand – it does NOT include your business name.
A logotype is your business name that has been stylized, but is still type-based.
A wordmark is solely your business name in your brand fonts.
Often, a combination of these things - or a combination mark - is what works best for most businesses.
Logomarks can seem like a good idea, especially for those of us who are drawn to imagery versus words – but don’t get ahead of yourself. Companies like Pepsi or Apple are instantly identifiable solely by their logomarks, but only because they have been around for decades and are globally recognized. As successful as you might become, it will take you a while to achieve instant identification via a logomark alone.
Can I make my logo myself?
The short answer is yes, you can if you really need to. These days there are lots of programs out there that provide easy access to a DIY logo. (I'm looking at you, Canva...) This can be a perfectly fine option for businesses starting on a budget (really, don’t they all?) However, keep in mind that as your business grows you will want to invest in a graphic designer to provide a professional logo that will carry you through any possible required use.
After all, if you wouldn’t DIY your blond bayalage and multi-layered hairstyle, why would you DIY something that can be described as the most important visual identifier for your brand and business? Not to mention, if you use the same logo template as a competitor down the street – YOUR client might become confused and book with your competitor rather than you!
Along these lines, you also want your logo to make your business, product, or service recognizable to your client. If your business name is “Vera’s Designs” and your logo incorporates flowers, a potential client might assume that the business is a florist – when actually, you are a graphic designer. This doesn’t mean you cannot use purely decorative elements in your logo design – but it does mean that if your business name does not describe what you do, it might cause confusion – so choose carefully!
The key goal of your logo is to make your business identifiable. Make it count!