It's often the first thing on the to-do list for a new business owner, just after choosing a business name: get a logo.
This often happens when the business is a newborn and there's not a lot of time or money in the budget for branding or logo design. And we get it - not everyone has the budget to spend on a designer while their biz bébé is an infant. And there are cheaper ways of doing things and you really need to have that logo, so you'll just go 99designs and worry about it later.
But you think these elements are stopping you getting started?
I'm holding a pin, ready to burst that thought bubble.
The logo design contest trend is rippling through the interwebs. A new business owner puts forth a brief, then designers have a free-for-all hoping to design a winning logo (and hoping to be paid for their work). The owner then has a buffet of dozens of designs to choose from.
So what's wrong with that?
The problem is: most of these designers will design the logo they think you're most likely to PURCHASE, not the logo that will work best for your business. Not to mention good ideas are vulnerable to poaching and none of that is good for the industry.
But back to the business owner- know this:
Design and branding aim to find solutions to a problem - and the problem here is how your business solves those problems for your ideal customers.
A good designer will crawl inside your ideal client's head, find out what lights them up or scares them silly, then have a look at the marketplace to find your position in within it. Lots of research needs to be conducted and this means lots of communication between designer and client.
Think of it this way, would you go on a date with someone after reading a brief about the person or after multiple conversations to see if they understand you (or in this case, your business)?
So, research phase complete- the designer then proposes a design knitting all your requirements together. It's quite a process, hours of investment on the part of a designer and you, relying heavily on the creativity and experience of the designer.
When you enter into graphic design contests for your business logo, none of these questions get asked (or answered!) And if they do, it's only in a cursory way. The graphic designers in a contest have little investment in you or your business because, let's face it, they might not get paid for their work so why should they care?
Designers have to keep a hundred design entries on the go in order to keep food on the table in this business model because they are only 7-9% likely to win any single contest.
You may end up with a huge range of choice and styles but the issue here is that you may then feel compelled to choose one you personally like, or your family, friends (or their cousins) like without thinking about your market and ideal client because you've not had a designer go through that process with you.
Alrighty then, what about Canva? Can you just do your own logo in this free program?
Le sigh. You'll likely run into many of the same issues here, plus legal ones. Your design will not be unique - everyone else has access to the same resources within Canva. You will not be able to trademark a design and you may well run into another business who looks like you. Yikes.
And from a tech perspective: you won't be able to access all the file types required for web design. SVG is an important one as it's infinitely scalable and therefore always crisp; Canva can't create these file types.
Because design solves a problem, you may end up with something which does not solve problems for your business or more importantly, your ideal client.
We hear you! A bias for action is always a good thing - get started, now! Then adjust later. But please, don't let bad design get in the way of communicating how awesome you are. Here are our tips for getting your design done without a pro.
One of the worst thing we see baby businesses do it grab some clipart or a convoluted design, attempting to explain everything they do in one picture.
Examples: a hairdresser logo with scissors and a comb, a restaurant with pizza and a glass of wine. Chances are your ideal clients know exactly what you do and you're complicating the space with redundancy.
If you do ANYTHING at all - keep it simple. Logos don't need to be literal or show exactly EVERYTHING you do. That's what copywriting and photography is for. Copywriting will explain your services, photographs show your products or what your business physically does, and your logo and brand designs will set the tone and vibe of your business - just enough to catch your ideal client's eye.
Just pick two fonts (carefully mind you!) and use them as a text-based logo.
How should you choose a font for your brand? We've written all about that over on our agency website. How to choose a font for your brand: https://www.alineddesign.com/how-to-choose-a-font-for-your-brand/
It's so much better to play it safe than be brave with colour. Sure, colour is a great way to make a statement... but it's gotta be the right one. Don't fall into the trap of "I like purple, so my brand will be purple!". Look at what your ideal client wants to see from you, and how to get them to notice you. Whilst it does take a person to come up with unique colour combinations, developing your own palette can be fun AND we've got some ways to ensure they are all toned to sing together. AI, my friend.
Here's our favourite resources:
Palx palette generator - the best for broad web palettes: https://palx.jxnblk.com/
Colour psychology: https://99designs.com.au/blog/tips/how-color-impacts-emotions-and-behaviors/
Creative and original designs do make your business stand out. But rather than sift through thousands of designers in logo design competitions, do save and make the investment with a trusted professional once your brilliant idea starts making a profit.
There is something about a truly custom design that says so much with little space. *mwah* so lovely.
Do we advise to completely avoid logo design competitions? No, actually! Get out there and get started, and if this is a tool you want to use then do so. If you're clued up on how to speak with a designer and give the right kind of feedback to get things going you might (and that's a heavily qualified might) find the design unicorn you've been looking for. BUT - choosing that one special and talented graphic designer and bringing them into your business is magic. They'll be there on the journey with you.
Best wishes on your new business!