When people start a business or aspire to launch a new product, the creation of a logo often means a lot. It is the first step to envision what they want to offer or sell. It symbolizes the existence of the company or product. A rapid, visual representation of their brand’s message and position in a certain market. The creation of the logo is important, but it is not where it ends. Sticking the logo on everything will, as many wrongly assume, not solve the issue of the brand’s exposure or position.

There are roughly three ways to get a logo.

When dealing with a small or non-existent budget, the logo is often produced by the owner himself (is that a globe with your initials?) or by a more talented relative (clipart really?) or one might use the nowadays overly popular online logo maker websites like http://logotypemaker.com/ or http://www.logogarden.com/ (close, but nah).

You request a logo online for free, receive about 40 generic looking designs, and if one of them pleases you, you can download a high resolution version for about 20 to 30$.

Personally, in my life as an artist and originator of brands, I don’t recommend any of the three options above. The results are seldom professional or thought through, let alone beautiful. A logo maker website often converts randomly created, uninspired designs. It is almost as if they were fabricated, without any human interaction, by a machine or application.

I strongly believe that, with a shamelessly self-promoting “leave the design to the designers” in mind, to hire a specialized freelance designer or graphic studio is a much better-value-for-money option. This undoubtedly requires a bit of work in researching what exactly it is you want, but the results will be massively more superior. Starting off with a good logo can only help business and serve the brand’s reputation once positioned in the market.

The third option, although in a much higher price range, is to assign an agency to come up with a logo. Agencies are experts not only in all visual aspects but are also gifted with the creation and management of all aspects and assets that surround a brand. A brand is much more than a logo, it’s every interaction with a name or a design that identifies and separates one business, product, or service from another.

A brand embodies the positioning, the messaging and communications, the graphic design and visual elements, the target market, the voice, the marketing and promotions, the presence. It is the experience any individual has with the business, product or service online, offline, or in person.
An experienced agency can deliver a full package with all the elements above, AKA the brand identity guidelines.

A complete set of brand guidelines contains and defines the following aspects:

  1. Brand Essence
    A complete strategic overview of the brand, brand values, brand promise, brand image and message, and goals.
  2. Logo and Tagline
     Sizes and proportions of the logo with and without tagline, all variations and brand extensions.
  3. Colour Palette
     The primary, secondary and tertiary brand colours.
  4. Typography
     A clear definition and explanation of which fonts to use together with the brand.
  5. Positioning, size, and clear space
     How to use the logo and other graphic elements on stationery and other collaterals.
  6. Imagery
    The style of images best to use together with the brand.
  7. Voice and style
     Instruction for the voice, tone, and style of the messaging and copywriting in the branded communications.
  8. Trademarks and intellectual property
    The use of the service mark, trademark, or registered mark.
  9. Layouts and grids
     Templates for common uses of the logo and brand elements.
  10. Application examples
     The dos and don’ts of how to use logo and brand elements across varied applications.

In general a logo or logotype includes a graphic mark or emblem, a name, specified colors and a tagline. A well-designed logo evokes a memory or emotion from the viewer depending upon the relationship with the brand.

The confusion with the term brand stems from its origin in livestock branding where it is described (Wikipedia) as a distinctive symbol burned into the animal’s skin to differentiate one person’s cattle from another’s (so basically just a logo mark).

A logo is only a part or facet of a brand. It is important to get a good logo from the start as it will be the symbol and a powerful tool to help communicate the brand and represent the brand within its comprehensive universe.

This article was originally written for Pink Entropy’s blog section called the Pink Tank.