Target. IKEA. Pepsi. Simple logos with power. A logo is an instantly recognizable symbol for the business. Whether the business is a fast food restaurant off the interstate or a startup advertising agency, a logo identifies the business...distinguishes it from other businesses...and serves to attract customers through recognition and familiarity.

Whether simple or elaborate, logos define identity. Without a logo, the name of the business would fade in to a wall or a newspaper page. By creating a logo for a business, a business must capture the essence of its brand and stand out in a sea of competition. A logo will be the identifying marker for all aspects of the business, and should be consistent: everything from the sign outside the business to company letterhead should have the identical logo.

Where to Start?

New businesses should consider the following during the logo design process:

  • Think about the purpose of the logo. Does it need to attract customers walking past the store, driving on the highway, or reading a magazine?
  • Consider logo size. When discussing logos, consider size. If the logo is needed for large sign and letterhead, can the size of the logo accommodate a size change?
  • Look at logos for your competitors. While you won’t want to copy, look at what elements work for businesses in your field.

Establish a design team within the company to gather to discuss specs, vet new designs, and finalize the new logo design concepts. List out exactly what you want in the design, even if you don’t consider yourself creative. Find examples you like and present them to your designer as an idea of the direction you want to take.

Finding a Good Designer

With budget in hand, the next step in the logo design process is finding a graphic design firm or freelancer. Consider the following questions when searching for a good graphic design firm:

  • Does the design firm offer a money back guarantee if the firm is unable to produce a satisfactory logo?
  • What is the staffing? Many designers? Solo practitioner? Does it matter to you?
  • How many designers will be assigned to the project?
  • Deadlines -- What is the late work policy?
  • Changes -- What is the revision process?
  • Over budget? Check with business colleagues for the reputation of the business for staying on budget.

While it may not matter whether you work with a freelancer or a firm, consider that often you can find an affordable freelancer or college student, which is great if you’re on a shoestring budget. But also know that design firms are considered more professional and possibly reliable, as they usually have multiple designers and have a stable of experience.

Get Creative with Winning Designs

Another affordable option for small businesses on a budget is to use a design marketplace where many designers all create a logo for your business in the hopes that you will choose theirs. You set your specs, budget, and expectations, and choose the winning design from all of the designs submitted. With a firm like 99Designs, you set how much you are willing to pay for a logo design and select the one you like the best.

You can get the input of others by sending them a link to vote on their favorite logo. This can help you gauge how your logo will be perceived.

The Logo Is In! Now What?

Once the design is in, gather the key decision makers. Share the new logo drafts with others within the company. Also, ask for feedback outside of your company to get unbiased views.

Ask the following questions:

  • Does the logo symbolize the company?
  • Does the color scheme work?
  • What does this logo say about the company?
  • Is what it says what you want to express?
  • What changes need to be made?

Before giving final approval, proofread! It’s all too easy to overlook simple grammatical errors, so do it before you’ve signed off on a design. And don’t hesitate to return changes to the design firm. Part of its job is to ensure you get exactly what you want, so if the shade of green is just a bit too bright or the logo needs tweaks, be as detailed as possible in what you want and ask for the changes. Ask, too, how many rounds of changes are included in the rate you were quoted, as sometimes they come at an additional fee.