Your logo is one of the most important elements in your business brand, representing your company in visual form. It must be arresting, memorable, relevant and able to convey your brand at a glance.

Here are some tips and examples on what makes a winning company logo.

Types of Logos

In general, most logos fall into one of three general categories:

  1. Business name or letters (such as eBay or Facebook’s F)
  2. Abstract symbols (such as the Chase bank or Mercedes-Benz logo)
  3. Images (such as Apple’s logo or the Rolling Stones’ tongue)

While business names or acronyms are easy to identify with your business, they can also be somewhat boring.

Abstract symbols can ultimately become very memorable (think of Nike’s swoosh), but it takes time and lots of marketing before an abstract logo will be embedded in customers’ minds.

Images are highly memorable and appealing. The ultimate is an image that stands in for your business name, such as the logos for Apple, Shell Oil or the American Red Cross.

Factors to Consider

What personality does your logo need to convey? In other words, what is your business brand? The logo for a cupcake store will be very different than the logo for an accounting firm — one could be frilly and fun, while the other needs to convey reliability and expertise.

What do your competitors' logos look like? Identify what you like and don't like about them. Make sure that your logo doesn't look too similar — otherwise, your customers could confuse your business with theirs, or your competition could accuse you of copying their idea.

Where will your logo be used? Think ahead, and consider all the possible places you might want to put your logo, including:

  • Store signage
  • Business cards
  • Letterhead and stationery
  • Brochures or flyers
  • Your website
  • Product packaging
  • Store shopping bags
  • Billboards
  • Bus stop benches
  • Employee uniforms or name badges
  • Banners
  • Lawn signs
  • Car door magnetized signs
  • Promotional products such as coffee mugs, baseball caps, tote bags and T-shirts
  • Social media websites/avatars/thumbnails

Your logo must scale up and down and be equally identifiable whether it's a tiny thumbnail on Twitter or a giant banner in your store window. Don’t limit yourself with a logo that only works in a couple of ways.

Is it relevant to your industry? You might love a particular image or abstract symbol, but if it's not relevant to your industry, it will just cause confusion. For example, a logo that looks like a mechanical gear could be perfect for a manufacturing company, but wouldn't make sense for a childcare center.

Does it rely on color? A good logo works as well in black and white as in color.

Apple’s logo, for example, can be translated into black, white, silver, rainbow striped and still convey the Apple brand at a glance. Don't use too many colors in your logo: Using more than three colors will make it much more expensive to print.

Is it too trendy? There's a fine line between looking current and looking like a "fashion victim" when it comes to logos. The less exaggerated and simpler your logo is, the better it will stand the test of time.

Designing Your Logo

Because your logo is so important, it’s best to use a professional unless you actually have graphic design expertise. Hiring a designer doesn't have to break the bank. At websites, such as Deluxe, DesignCrowd, 99Designs, and LogoWorks, a stable of experienced designers will design logos for set prices. If you want more flexibility, sites such as UpWork, Freelancer and Guru can connect you with designers who will bid on your project.

If you want to work with a designer in person, ask friends and colleagues for recommendations. A professional designer will be up to date with current design trends, knowledgeable about the psychological effects of colors and shapes, and able to create a truly unique logo (such as one using a custom typeface created just for you). You can even find a graphic designer who specializes in your industry to really give you an edge.

Before working with a designer or design service, know what is included. How many revisions can you make to the logo? Will you own all rights to the logo?

Protect Your Logo

Once your logo is finalized, get copies of the artwork in in the appropriate digital formats for both print and online use. Then visit uspto.gov and trademark your logo, so no one else can use it. Your logo is a big investment, so be sure to protect it.

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