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Need a logo? Five things to consider

So you’re starting a new business, or launching a new product. And you think, hey, I need a logo. And then you contact a designer and put in your order. “I just need a logo,” you say.

But it’s not just as simple as that.

1 | Do you need a logo, or an identity or something else altogether?

Strictly speaking, a logo is a mark that stands in as an identifier for your company. Think the Nike swoosh: when you see that, you think of athletic dedication and prowess, as well as athletic wear. Here’a s quick glossary of some branding terms:

Logo   a graphic mark, emblem or symbol that acts as a visual stand in for a company or brand.

Logotype or word mark   a text-only typographic treatment of the company or product name.

Trademark, registered or otherwise   a recognizable mark that identifies a brand, product or service. Trademarks may be registered to protect against infringement and may be licensed for use by other companies. A logo or logotype can become a trademark.

Icon   a mark that stands in for a smaller concept than a business. Think of an envelope as an icon for email.

Identity   the set of rules that a company follows in all communication with the customer. Includes the logo/logotype, fonts, colors, image curation, voice and sound.

Brand   the comprehensive impression of a company or product, build over time through communication with the customer.

So a logo or mark is only the beginning of a long series of communications between you and your clients or customers. Over years, every customer interaction builds your brand. Branding is a continuous activity.

2 | Logos appear in various places

Logos can get a lot of use, or not so much. If it’s a logo for a special event, it might just be used in a few places: advertising, event materials, banners. If it’s for a business, it can show up on a website, on business cards and other print materials, on signage, and more. Provide and discuss as many of these options as possible with your designer. If they are only talking on medium, such as only discussing web use, then you might want to find a designer that specializes in branding. While many web designers have taken on branding and identity as part of their specialty, it doesn’t mean that they think of other applications, like signage or print. Likewise, a print designer might not think of how a logo will work on the web.

Ideally, a logo should work at both a large and small sizes, and should have both a color and black and white version.

3 | It takes some time to create a logo

Contrary to popular belief, logo creation takes some time. Ideally, your designer will do some research into what other companies in your space are doing. She’ll talk to you about your special sauce, what makes you different from those other companies. She’ll pull this together into concepts that you’ll be able to discuss and modify. She’ll mock up different applications, and ideally, create usage guidelines so that you can communicate your identity to other folks that might need to use it, like employees or other vendors.

4 | Who will maintain your branding?

Once you have your logo, who will be responsible for maintaining the consistency of your brand? Large corporations spend a lot time and money maintaining and protecting their brand, including an internal team, pages of identity standards and a registered trademark. If your identity is pretty simple, it might just be you and your designer. For consistency, build a team: a designer, a developer, a marketing/copywriter, a good printer. You may want to work with the same photographer or image repository. Make sure everyone is familiar with your brand.

5 | You can start slowly

You don’t have to jump into everything right away. Some designers might disagree, some industries have different standards, and some logos are easier to change or modify than others. In the end, you might just need a business card that looks nice. You might just need a website that works reliably. If you decide to go slowly though, keep track of what’s working, and build a team that you can count on.