Once you’ve made the decision to go ahead and start that small business you’ve been dreaming about, one of the first things you’ll need to obtain is a logo for your company. A logo is a must-have for any new business and is the first step towards branding your business and starting to create its presence in the world. Today, we’re going to walk you through our creation process for a new logo, things to consider as you decide what you want your logo to say about your new company, and then how to get that logo created.
When your company is new, there isn’t a lot of extra funds for a logo, and there doesn’t need to be. There are tons of ways to get a quality logo that you can brand your company around without spending thousands of dollars. Or even hundreds. And you certainly don’t need to have any design skills either. Later, when your company is making money like crazy and you’ve grown out of the startup phase, then you can hire a professional marketing company to upgrade your logo and really make your brand sizzle. But just because you’re a startup doesn’t mean you can’t create a quality logo for yourself. We’ve rounded up a bunch of options on how to do that for today’s blog, so come along and let’s get your logo designed.
First, before we get into how to make a logo, we always find it helpful to brainstorm a little on what you want the logo to look like. Starting from scratch is hard, because there are endless possibilities out there and that’s just too many choices. So, it’s helpful to narrow it down and we like to start with colors. You probably have some idea of what colors you’d like the logo to be, just not specifics. If not, look around your room or home for colors that inspire you. Or jump online and do an image search for things that you like: coffee shops, bed and breakfasts, classic cars, anything like that, and start browsing through, looking for colors you like. Once you have a color that you think will represent your business well, you’re ready to decide on your color palette.
What is a color palette you ask? It’s just the colors that you’ll use for your branding. Color palettes are pre-designed groups of colors that work well together and complement each other. Just pick a color palette and then keep all your branding within the color palette. The next step then, is how to get a color palette? This is really easy. Head on over to a free color palette generator like Coolers.co or Canva.com. They have hundreds, if not thousands, of color palettes to choose from, and this step will help you refine your logo ideas in your head even more. Do you like all similar colors, to make a soft and muted statement? Or would you prefer a few understated colors offset by a couple bold, contrasting colors to really make your designs pop? Or do you want a collection of colors that are all bold and strong? These websites have all of these types of palettes and more. Browse through and find the one you like. You can always come back to the palette chooser after you create your logo and adjust the colors if need be but starting with the color palette will really help get you off on the right foot.
You’ll notice each color on the color palette has an alphanumeric code on it. This is called its hex number, and just about all professional design programs and services allow you to choose colors based on their hex number. Think of it as the identifier for that particular color. So if you pick a nice shade of sage for your logo, you want to be sure your printer will print that exact shade of sage when you go to get your business cards printed. The color’s hex code ensures that will happen. Depending on what logo creation method you use below, your exact colors may not be available, and that’s ok. If you find a color in the logo maker that’s close, or that you like better, you can just use that. And the more sophisticated design methods will allow you to use the exact code for the color you want. Regardless of what you decide, it’s super helpful to have your color palette, with all its hex codes, for all your future design work. This will insure that all your marketing collateral works together and creates a comprehensive, cohesive statement about your company.
Ok, so now that you’ve got your color palette all picked out, you’re ready to design your logo. As we mentioned, we’ve pulled together a few different options depending on your skill set and budget.
First up, no design skills, and no budget? No worries. There is actually a way to get a quality logo that is actually free. You have to be careful, because if you just search “free logo design” that’s exactly what you’re going to get: logos that are free to design, just not free to use. And you’ll go to a ton of design work only to find out they won’t let you download it until you pay for it. If you’re really new to graphic design you may be asking yourself, well if I can design the logo for free, why can’t I just screenshot the logo I designed and skip having to pay for it? Two reasons. First, the web works off of an image quality setting that is way too low for print quality. Meaning if you screen shot it and try to use it the logo will print out all jagged and pixilated. Monitors and printers don’t use the same ratings for image quality but a rough comparison is the web is usually at 72-140 dots per inch (if you screen capture them and print them out) whereas print quality images need to be in the 300-600 dpi range for most letter sized publications. The second big reason is that in addition to buying the logo design, you’re buying the license to use that logo from the person or service that created it. Licensing is very important, because without a license, you can’t legally use the logo. We’ll talk more about licensing as we go along.
But back to our free logo. Head on over to namecheap.com. They have an honest to goodness, no hidden fees, free logo maker. You can create as many free logos as you want, they’ll be high quality and high resolution so you can use them for print media and products, and they really are free. The system will walk you through a bunch of steps to design your logo, allowing you to pick font type, colors, and icons. Once that’s done, you’ll be presented with the results of your choices and a bunch of different logos to choose from. Pros? Various logo ideas to choose from, different color and style options, and, as we mentioned, its free. Cons? The logo creation is really limited. You have no way to add images, the icons are really basic, you can’t choose your colors by hex number and you’re just really limited on your design. But if you have zero design skills and zero budget, this is a great way to get logo files so you can get to work on branding your company.
If you can free up a little bit of budget for your logo design process, the options and quality of your logo are going to go way up. Canva.com (the same people who have the color palette generator we mentioned above), logomaker.com, looka.com and freelogodesign.org are all websites that allow you to create much more varied and unique logos than the truly free option. And you’ll note many of them say “free logo design” but, again, it’s just the design process that’s free. The logo files and license cost money. But as of this writing they start at just $40 and you get a lot more images and design options compared to the free option. Looka will walk you through starting with design inspiration and then will create a bunch of different logos for you to browse through and choose from. Logo Maker and Free Logo Design work similarly. Looka and Free Logo Design are both true logo makers. Canva is actually an entire suite of web-based design software that has a logo function, but also a lot more. So if you find you like Canva, you’ll be able to design fliers, notices, social media posts, and all kinds of other stuff.
So what happens if you don’t like any of the logos that these logo makers come up with but you still aren’t great at graphic design? Head on over to iStockPhoto.com and simply type in whatever you’re looking for. Own a coffee shop and need a coffee shop logo? Type in “coffee shop logo” and you’ll get over 5000 designs all ready to go. Just choose the one you want. If you have basic design skills, you can edit these files in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop to add your company’s name and tagline. If you don’t, do a search for “M logos” or “logos that start with M” or variations such as that, and you’ll get plenty of logo ideas that don’t need any modification. iStockPhoto lets you buy an image outright, or signup for a subscription service to get a certain amount of images for free each month. The subscription method gets you wildly discounted prices, and, if you’re starting your business, besides your logo, you’re going to need things like websites, sales sheets, social media posts, etc, and if you have the subscription you can get all the images you need for a fraction of what buying them individually would cost, as long as you are content to do the creation process over a few months. And honestly, we all plan to do everything the first week but actually creating all of your collateral over a couple months is much more realistic.
Once you find an image you like, you’ll be given a standard license with your download. The standard license allows you to use the logo on your products and advertising as long as anything you print is less than 500,000 copies and your products aren’t for resale. So, if you’re putting your logos on pens to give away to potential customers, your fine with a standard license, but if you want to sell t-shirts with your logo on it, you’ll need to upgrade to the extended license. There are a couple other considerations on the license so be sure to click on the license link before you download and make sure it will work for you. Note that in iStockPhoto’s terms and conditions, the wording makes it sound like you can’t use their designs for logos without a special license. We reached out to iStockPhoto and the incredibly nice customer service folks over there clarified for us that you can use any of their images as your logo or as part of your logo (with the proper license mentioned above) you just don’t have the exclusive use of the logo. And, if your company gets successful and you love the logo you bought from iStockPhoto, they will allow you to buy the exclusive rights to your logo, meaning no one who hasn’t already purchased it will be able to use it. Exclusive rights start at about $30,000.
The last option we’d like to discuss in this blog is creating your own logo. Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop are incredibly handy tools to be able to use and, honestly, they are not that hard to learn. You won’t be able to do professional quality graphic design in the first week, but Adobe has done a great job of making their software simple enough that you can master the basic techniques required to create a good logo in just a few hours. And there are thousands of free tutorials on YouTube. Adobe sells their software on a subscription model, which makes it easy to fit into your budget because you’re not having to drop thousands of dollars on software all at once. You can buy individual programs like Photoshop or Illustrator for $20.99 a month, or you can get a photography suite that includes Photoshop and Lightroom for only $9.99 a month (yeah that doesn’t make any sense to us either but that’s how Adobe has it priced). If you spend $52.99 a month, you get the entire Creative Cloud Suite that gives you Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premier Pro and Acrobat Pro, which will allow you to create just about anything you could possibly need for your business including advertisements, sales sheets and sales videos.
If you’ve always wanted to be able to use Photoshop or Illustrator, now is the perfect time to learn. Adobe gives you a free 30-day trial so you can download the software and then jump into the YouTube tutorials. Adobe actually has a ton of tutorials built in to help you get started with the software. And you can even click on Hands On Tutorials and some of the web’s most talented artists, photographers and designers will walk you through how to do what you want to do, right inside the program. Additionally, Adobe Creative Cloud gives you access to about a bazillion free fonts and they also have their own stock photo library you can get access to, similar to iStockPhoto. And once you learn these programs, you can save yourself thousands of dollars in design costs while your business is getting started.
Regardless of which of the above methods you choose to create your company logo, the important thing is just to pick one and do it. Once you have a logo, everything else can flow from there. You can use the color palette you chose along with the logo to create flyers, get business cards printed, or paint the inside of your shop. There are a million things that need to be done to create your successful business, but they pretty much all start with your logo. So go ahead and get started creating your dream business!
If you’re starting on your business, we’d love to hear from you! Leave us a comment, or feel free to reach out to us to collaborate or discuss just about anything. If you’ve gotten to the end of the blog and you feel there’s just no way you can design a logo yourself, contact us. We’re happy to help.