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Creating a Successful Business Logo Embody your company image and establish brand identity in one graphic element

by David Cotriss

"A picture's worth a thousand words." When it comes to company logos, this old maxim couldn't be truer. Think of McDonald's golden arches or the Nike swoosh. These two impressive logos embody these companies well. Yet still, many companies skimp on developing this key identity piece.

Ideally, your company logo enhances that crucial first impression on potential customers and partners. A good logo helps to:

build familiarity between your business and customers establish a brand identity provide the professional look you need as an established business

Consider Allstate's "good hands" logo. It immediately portrays a warm feeling for the company, symbolizing care and trust. With a little thought and creativity, your logo can quickly and graphically express many positive attributes of your business.

Getting Started With Your Logo

Before you begin sketching, first articulate the message you want your logo to convey. Try writing a one-sentence image and mission statement to help focus your efforts. Then, stay close to this statement while creating your logo.

Here are some more tactics and considerations to help you create an appropriate logo:

Look at other business logos in your industry. Do your competitors use solid, conservative images, or flashy graphics and type? Think about how you want to differentiate your logo from those of your competitors.

Your business name affects your logo. For example, if your business name is "D.C. Jewelers," you may wish to use a classy, serif font to accent the letters especially your name features initials. For a company called "Lightning Bolt Printing," the logo might feature some creative implementation of you guessed it a lightning bolt.

Use your logo to illustrate your business's key benefit. The best logos make an immediate statement with a picture or illustration, not words. The "Lightning Bolt Printing" logo, for example, may need to convey the business benefit of "ultra-fast, guaranteed printing services." The lightning bolt image could be manipulated to suggest speed and assurance.

Keep your logo simple. Use nothing more than an image and company name. It should be easy to read in various sizes and easy to recognize.

Make sure your logo transfers well in black and white since you may not always be able to produce it in color. Using color provides more design options, but can also make your logo expensive to reproduce.

Don't use clip art. However tempting it may be, clip art can be copied too easily. Not only will original art make a more impressive statement about your company, but it will set your business apart from others.

Designing Your Logo

Even if you initially design your logo, hire a professional graphic designer to help finalize and produce it. A professional can ensure that the logo is polished and is available in all of the different electronic formats you'll need for various types of production (.gif, .jpeg, .tiff, .pdf and others).

While professional design firms can charge thousands of dollars to create your logo, many home-based designers charge much less, often $20 to $100 per hour. Be sure your designer knows your industry and requests adequate information on your company before starting to design your logo.

Using and Protecting Your Logo

Once you've produced a logo that embodies your company's mission at a glance, use it everywhere you can on business cards, stationary, brochures, ads, your web site and any other place where you mention your company. This will help build your image, raise your company's visibility and, ideally, lead to more business.

And finally, make sure you trademark your logo to protect it from use by other companies. You can apply for a trademark at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office web site at

-- Anonymous, February 07, 2001

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