What's In A Logo?

I do a whole lot of work for small businesses locally.  The majority of items are promotional items and signage.  Those items almost always prominently display a logo.  When the customer enters the store asking about these things, it can go very easy or it can be EXTREMELY difficult.

The I ask a customer is, do you have a logo?  At least fifty percent of the time, the answer is "do I need one?"  Simply put, yes, every business needs a visual image that will stick in a customers head and help your business stand apart from the rest.  Without a logo, you're just a name and, all too often, names get forgotten.

The second most common answer is either "Yes, I had it designed by a guy on Etsy" or "Yes, I designed it in Publisher".  That is always the moment when my stomach drops and I steel myself for a long, long day.

I will skip all of the fancy graphic design talk about feelings, images, and such.  I will just discuss the bare basics of a logo.  To begin with, a logo should be readily visible, it should be comprehensible, and text should be legible.  If you can't tell what a logo is, can't read the writing on it, or can't make it out, you've already defeated the purpose.  No matter how pretty the text is and how much you like it, if people can't read it, you're losing business.

Next, a logo should be versatile.  No matter the size, you should be able to clearly see the detail.  Generally, simple is better.  If you make an incredibly elaborate piece of art for your logo and shrink it down to go on a business card, most of the time it will just be a blob.  Not to mention, if you want vinyl work done, you will often be out of luck.  Then factor in a 3d lit sign for your store, will they be able to do what you want them to see on the finished sign?  These are very, very, very valid concerns when you are deciding on your logo design.

Logos should also be in the proper format.  Sure a jpg or a png is great for a website or a business card, but photo formats turn into blocks as you enlarge them.  Also, these formats often have a solid background and aren't suitable for engraving, stamping, embroidery, or vinyl.  To make your logo truly usable for your business, you need to have it in a vector format, basically meaning it is composed of lines and angles that are infinitely re-sizable.  The most common way you will see these is in a eps, cdr, or ai format, but even that doesn't guarantee it's a true vector.  Always ask your artist for the vector files.

Once you have all this information firmly in place, you are ready to find a graphic artist....and then the work really begins.  Advertising agencies have staff designers that are familiar with the art requirements for almost any medium, IF they are good.  A file that you would use to laser engrave your logo will be composed differently than the file you use for cutting it out in vinyl for your front window or for vinyl on your car.  Both of those are different than what you would use for having your shirts embroidered, which is different than what you would use to sublimate employee t-shirts.  When you talk to your artist, tell them how you intend to use your logos, what materials you want to use your logo with, and how you wish to display it.  Make sure they are comfortable with all aspects because if you drop it off at a vinyl shop and they have to rebuild it, it can easily cost you $100 an hour for their time.

So, how much should a comprehensive logo package cost?  If you have a design in mind, are willing to listen to your designer when they make suggestions, and you communicate your needs effectively, you can expect to pay around $1500 for a solid package.  If you don't communicate well, or if you have no clue what you want, expect $3000+ because they will be using a lot of extra time trying to figure out what you want.  If you want the original artwork and vector design files as well as the final product, many designers will charge you another $500 to $1500 for the files because that essentially enables you to cut them out of the loop for future design needs.

If a designer seems too reasonable (under $500), chances are you are going to end up spending twice as much in the long run.  Designers charge for their skills and knowledge of the mediums their art will work with.  A competent designer will save you thousands of dollars in conversion and rebuild fees.  Cutting corners will do nothing but cost you money dealing with people like me in the future.

If you're in the Lubbock area, stop by and talk to me before having your logo created.  I will be happy to point you in the right direction of a designer that will work best for your needs.  Hopefully it will save everyone involved a lot of time and energy while helping your business growth stay at the level your business deserves.

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