Over the last week, we've been talking logos and branding. We started out by examining logo design 101. We talked about what elements go into a good logo design and why certain logos have become so memorable. We talked a little about choosing a graphic designer for your own logo project. Finally, we wrapped it up by discussing a good process for logo and branding design brainstorming.
Contrary to all the praises I sang in regards to hiring a graphic designer for your branding, I'm going to spend a few minutes busting the myth that you must hire a graphic designer who understands branding to create your own logo or your entire business will fail. Before I upset every graphic designer out there, let me start off by saying that I really believe that if it is at all within the realm of possibility for you to hire a graphic designer experienced in branding, it will absolutely pay for itself.
But as someone who has launched a few of her own businesses before, I'm completely realistic. I understand the financial struggles most of us face when we're first piecing together a new idea. The idea of spending $500 or more on one little graphic is terrifying.
Today I'm giving you permission to put your logo on hold. It's not going to destroy your chance for success, and it's not going to harm you if you decide to rebrand yourself once your business has reached a level of success that makes you feel comfortable enough to start really investing some money on things like proper branding.
SAVE YOUR DAZZLING LOGO FOR LATER
I've spent quite a bit of time lately reading books that emphasize just launching your business already! Of all the business books I've ever read, these resonate with me the most by far. The point always goes something like this:
- You can't accurately predict if a good idea will become a profitable business.
- No amount of research in the world will guarantee success.
- The more time and money you dump into your business before you launch, the more heartbroken you'll be if your business fails.
- Many, many businesses fail.
- Most successful entrepreneurs experienced multiple failures before a big success.
- Just do it! Spend a few weeks creating an idea, piece together what you must (ie, a website, a rough logo, some coordinating graphics, your actual product) and just GO.
- Gauge your success as you go, and alter your plan as it becomes necessary to do so.
Many super successful Internet entrepreneurs of late have started their businesses this way, often in less than a month from the time they hatched the idea to the time their business was released to the world (and usually for very little cost). For a fantastic round-up of businesses who invested very little time and money up front, check out the book the $100 Startup.
All this reading led me to some soul searching. As a graphic designer with a background in marketing and branding, of course I think that I'm a necessary piece of that puzzle. But the truth is, with a little bit of skill, you are completely capable of creating or finding a logo that will be completely acceptable. Will it dazzle? Make a statement? Be forever memorable? Probably not. But there have been plenty of startups with dazzling logos that didn't survive. A logo alone is not going to make or break you. This I promise you.
A really lousy logo can break you. Completely incohesive graphics, an overwhelming and ugly homepage, lack of a website, a subpar product or confusing offerings - these things can certainly break you, and I wouldn't recommend any of them. But there's a middle ground to be reached in the interim.
DIY YOUR LOGO
I've met many self-taught graphic designers these days. I'm one! What started as an appreciation for pretty design turned into an obsession with pretty design and eventually, a lot of online classes and years playing with programs like Gimp, Pixlr, Pixelmator and eventually Photoshop and Illustrator. There are plenty of people out there with really awesome design sense. With the right tools, those so blessed can turn that design sense into a logo that might even dazzle! Some of the most popular programs these days are Pixelmator and Canva. They're super intuitive and easy to figure out, but they don't offer the complexities found on the more complicated Photoshop-wannabes like Gimp and Pixlr. Take your pick! I'd definitely recommend checking out our logo design 101 and brainstorming posts before dipping your toes into your own design. For inspiration (but be careful not to completely copy others), I'd recommend browsing on sites like Pinterest, Behance, logo of the day or logofaves.com.
THE PREDESIGNED, ONE-OF-A-KIND, AFFORDABLE LOGO
I've met a lot of women entrepreneurs who swear that graphic design isn't their forte. They can appreciate the beauty of good design, but they don't have a clue how to replicate it. That is totally okay, my friends! We can't all master every skill! If you don't have the time to learn about graphic or logo design and don't want to spend hours learning a new program, head on over to Etsy!
I've found Etsy to be a good treasure trove of one-of-a-kind, predesigned logos. I think this is a great middle ground for new startups. It's not a premade, resold-unlimited-times design, which is okay for local businesses that are starting up and have no plans to ever expand beyond the local market, but not good for businesses that sell nationally or globally. It's not a custom design that will cost you hundreds of dollars, either. Sometimes graphic designers like myself have a little spare time and a great big idea. We hop onto Illustrator for an hour or two and turn those ideas into something tangible then release them to the world via Etsy. It's a one-of-a-kind logo that's relatively affordable, usually coming in at under $100. The down side is not having any control over colors, concepts, or graphics; but you never know - you may just find the perfect logo waiting for you there.
KEEP YOUR BIG PICTURE IN MIND
While DIY'ing your logo can get you by in the interim while you're vetting your new business and before you've made enough to justify spending money on design, I think you should keep your big picture in mind, even in the beginning. Big logo changes can be more harmful than smaller updates. While I don't believe it will break a small business to radically deviate from its current logo, it can't hurt to have your ideal logo in mind and try to shoot for something as close to that as possible. Smaller logo changes are also more affordable. While I don't foresee this happening to most of us small business folks, let's never forget the lesson Tropicana taught us. When trying to rebrand their packaging in 2009, their sales plummeted 20% in just a few months, at which time the company had no choice but to go back to its original and familiar packaging.
A good logo design is important. I don't want to deemphasize that or lead you to believe that it plays no part in the success of your business. But there's time for great logo design when your business has been established and you've had enough sales to justify it. Depending on your target market, design blunders can harm your business enough to prevent it from ever becoming a success. So when in doubt, consult with someone with some background in graphic design. But don't let a lack of funds deter you from going forward with your brilliant business plan!
In the coming month we'll be releasing our free graphic design 101 manual, so if you're feeling a bit clueless about where to even begin, fear not and stay tuned!
Have you DIY'd your own logo? We'd love to see it!