May 3, 2017
So, you’ve got your idea for your business and have been busy working on a plan, defining your why, and narrowing down your ideal client. You’ve decided on what you’re going to offer and the products for your inventory. You’re so close to showing your hard work to the world.
At the beginning stages of your business, there are so many different areas you’re managing. And starting a business can get expensive, especially if you are a product based business. Having a visual representation for your business is important, but at the beginning you may not be ready to invest in a full brand identity design. I get it.
I understand how tight cash may be at the beginning stages of your business. You can’t make that full investment into hiring a brand designer and think a $15 pre-made logo is the best option for you.
I’m here to tell you to save that money for later and bootstrap your brand design yourself.
Rather than spending the money on a logo that isn’t exclusively yours, instead invest that time in DIYing your own logo and save for the future. You’ve already defined your why and created a mood board, so you have a visual and emotional idea about what you want your business to look like. Now it’s time to create something uniquely yours. Knowing a few smart tips about logo design will help you until you can invest in a full brand identity.
The first thing you should know when DIY-ing your brand is what makes a logo.
Vector format allows for easy scaling of your work, either up or down, without losing any quality. Programs like Photoshop are raster based, meaning that the file you are working with is made of pixels (tiny little squares) and when they are scaled up too far, or the resolution is forced to its limit, you could have grainy looking images. Think of it this way: If you create your beautiful logo in a 2”x4” artboard in Photoshop using 72ppi, you will never be able to scale it up large enough to be able to place it on a canvas tote bag, or even to place it on a poster sized image. If you were using a vector-based program, you would easily be able to scale your small logo up to use on something as large as a billboard.
It’s important to know that when you make a logo, you’re using the correct program. Industry standard is using Adobe Illustrator, a vector based program that is amazing for creating things like logos, marketing materials, blog graphics, worksheets, cards….I could keep going, but I’m sure that you understand by now. Illustrator is how I create 95% of my work and I couldn’t imagine my life without it.
It’s easy to think that you need a flourishy, overcomplicated logo—watercolor, floral clip art, swooshy script text. It’s all so unnecessary. Sure it may look pretty, but incorporate it into other areas of your visual identity. Your logo should simply, cleanly, and impactfully identify your business. Whether that’s through a strong graphic element, or through a type mark, less is more.
At the beginning stages of your business, it’s completely fine to use a text based logo if you don’t feel comfortable using a program like Adobe Illustrator. Platforms like Squarespace come equipped with the capability of allowing your website logo to just be text and they have a whole slew of options to choose from. Knowing the personality of your brand will help in determining which kind of typeface to use.
If your business is feminine and fun, go with a casual san-serif like Sacramento or Quicksand. Modern and minimal? Bebas Neue and Oswald will do the trick. Classic and romantic? Try a classic sans-serif like Great Vibes or Playfair Display. The best part: all of these are available on Google Fonts and in apps like Canva so that you’re able to use them in other areas of your business to begin establishing a cohesive look. (See my previous post to download all six of them.)
The whole point of being in business is for potential clients to be able to know who you are. Make sure that your logo is easy to read and digest. If you have a long business name, avoid using overly flourished fonts. If your business name is multiple words, avoid running your type together. In the coming weeks we’ll go over some typography lessons on ways to keep your type legible, but in the meantime, keep this in mind:
Clean, even spacing.
If a client can’t read your business name, how do you expect them to identify you in a sea full of other small businesses? There is a time and place for that calligraphy font you found, but if you have a three word business name, you should probably save it for something else.
There are plenty of successful DIY brands out there, done by creatives who put in a lot of hard work and aren’t graphic designers. If you just keep in mind the tips above, you can put together a brand identity to get your business started until you can make the investment in a brand designer.
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