Now you know who you are, you will be able to start showing that to the world with a stylish logo that encapsulates that and which you can then use in all of your products and across all of your marketing. Note that this does still apply to personal brands – just take a look at any of the big name bloggers and they will still have some form of logo.
A logo is essentially an image – often incorporating your company name – which will act like a ‘calling card’ so that people can easily identify your creations and so that you can easily remind them of who you are.
Popular examples of logos include the Nike tick, Virgin, Apple and Windows. Here are a bunch more to give you an idea of what a logo looks like. See how many you can name:
Your objective then is to create something like this which people will be able to use to instantly identify you.
The process of coming up with a logo though is a little harder than you might think. The main reason for this is simply that your logo will play such an important role in defining your business going forward and in creating marketing opportunities for you. If you get this wrong, then you could well be ‘stuck’ with a logo that doesn’t represent you well for a long time (rebranding isn’t easy). Just as naming your child can seem like an impossible task, so too can creating your logo.
To help you get started, there are a few criteria that a good logo should fulfill. Make sure that your logo meets these and you’ll be along the right lines.
A good logo should:
- Be unique and different – this is important to ensure you’re identifiable by your logo but it’s also important to ensure you’re not infringing any trademarks (we’ll get to that)
- Avoid clichés (like ticks, globes and lightbulbs which have been badly overdone and now appear highly derivative)
- Be appropriate for your industry/niche/subject matter
- Be versatile enough to be used in a variety of different places – avoid thin lines which won’t show up on some backgrounds
- Be simple enough to recreate – if people start doodling your logo in their notebooks you’re getting free publicity
Now you have your specifications, you can start the actual planning stage…
Before you open up any software, you first need to get an idea of what your logo is going to look like and where you’re going with it. We know what we’re aiming to achieve with a logo now and we know what makes a good logo. Next we just need some ideas to start building off.
The first place to start often is with a ‘mood board’. A mood board is essentially like a collage except you’re going to focus on placing lots of different images on it, with the main objective being to create a collection of images relating to your business and your brand that will serve as inspiration.
You can do this either with software or by printing out the images and sticking them down. This way, you can then collect:
- Images of other logos you like the looks of
- Images relevant to your niche/industry
- Images that relate to your mission state/values
- Things you simply like the looks of
Collect as many of these as possible and that way you will find that common themes start to emerge and that you start to get a good feeling for the artistic direction you need to take. You can then start combining elements, color palettes and more to come up with something new.
Playing off your company name is also another option. In most cases you will include the name of your company in the logo and then edit the font or turn specific letters into images.
A great example of this is the logo of Moon Studios – the games developers who recently produced ‘Ori and the Blind Forest’. Their logo turns the two ‘O’s into a moon in orbit like so:
Can you tell what’s wrong with this logo for our purposes though? The font is far too thin. This means that if you wanted to use your logo as a watermark on a video you were making for instance, that you would need to include some black background to make it legible. Simply bulking out the text would easily solve that issue though.
Some logos will also incorporate a symbol or even a character ‘mascot’. An example of this is Xbox which has the large X and Puma which has the puma… You can choose to incorporate something like this as well if you like but make sure that it remains easy to reproduce, versatile and unique.
If you’re still struggling to come up with ideas, then take a ‘brainstorming’ approach and simply draw down as many different ideas as you can. Even if you think the idea is stupid, draw it down anyway. Eventually you will start to see elements that you like and you can then recombine these to create something imaginative and original.
Finally, don’t aim to create one idea. Instead, come up with a few different options for your brand and then try testing it by showing it to people and getting feedback. This is important as often we are too close to our own business and our own creations to view ourselves objectively. Your logo is not for you – it is for your audience. So show the images around and let your customers, your friends or even passers-by in the street and get them to vote on the best one.
You have two options when it comes to creating your logo:
- Design it yourself (difficult if you don’t have any design skills).
- Outsource (cost money).
Let’s talk about each method.
In order to design a logo yourself, you’ll need a program like Photoshop Illustrator available at http://www.adobe.com/products/illustrator.html.
I can’t run through every single step of the process but if you like to learn the basics, you’ll find lots of tutorials on YouTube.
What you want to do is to actually make the logo so that it’s in a form that will be useable online.
This means turning it into an image file that will look high quality and that will allow you to edit it to use online in various different capacities.
Note that when you create your logo, you need to make it using vector software. When you create a JPG, Bitmap or PNG in Illustrator, this is what’s known as a ‘raster file’ meaning that it consists of lots of individual pixels in a file.
A vector file is different because it essentially works as a ‘map’ and a set of instructions which define the direction of different lines, the angle and the weight. In other words, it’s almost like the ‘code’ that tells the software how to draw the image.
This has multiple advantages. For starters, it means that you can resize the image to any dimension and not lose any quality. This is important because you might one day find that you need to use your logo on top of a billboard.
To use your logo professionally, you need to keep the precise ratios, angles and strokes the exact same across every iteration no matter how big or small the image file is. The same goes for colors by the way – so once you’ve creating your image you should also make a note of the precise color codes used throughout. Virgin’s branding isn’t ‘red’ – it’s a very specific shade of red that allows us to create that unconscious connection.
Likewise, vector files are important because they allow you to edit the image without making a mess of things. With a vector image you’ll be able to select any line and then make it wider, change the angle, change the color… With raster files meanwhile you would need to first erase portions of the image and then try to draw them back into place.
Now let’s take a look at outsourcing your logo. This is the best option but obviously requires some investment.
Here is a list of websites where you can get your logo designed:
http://99designs.com – you can start a logo design contest and “crowd source” the design.
http://fiverr.com – a great place to get logos created for just $5. Be prepared for long waits though, designers typically have a large que of orders because the pricing is cheap.
http://elance.com – an all-rounder outsourcing/freelance website to post jobs.
http://upwork.com – another freelance website worth trying.
When outsourcing to designers, make sure you are clear and specific on your instructions. Designers will usually ask a number of questions to understand your business so that they can create a logo that reflects it.
For a brand to be effective, it’s very important that no one else be trading using the same name. This is why you need to ensure you protect your brand by getting it patented once you’ve chosen a company name and a logo.
You can do this by visiting the US Patent and Trademark Office at www.uspto.gov. Here, you’ll be able to check that your trademark isn’t already patented and then patent it yourself for a fee (not more than a few hundred dollars). This will last for ten years, at the end of which you will need to renew your trademark.
When you create a website or write an article, this is going to be instantly protected by copyright and that copyright protection will last until after your death. This is not the same with a trademark – which needs to be actively sought out and renewed. If you’re going to be investing a lot into promoting your brand though, then this is definitely an investment worth making.
Hopefully after doing all this you will have a logo that you’re happy with. The next question though is: how do you use it?
To start with, you might want to try creating some more materials that you can use alongside your logo and that will likely come out of the logo too.
For instance, if you are going to be using any type of video marketing or if you will be vlogging on YouTube, then you may want to create a video opener. This is a short animation, often with music, that will play right at the start of your videos to once again tie them altogether. Often the animation will feature the logo in some way or another and very often it will simply be an animation of the logo either moving around or being constructing in some form.
Likewise, you may want to look into creating some headed letter paper which you can use when communicating with clients and/or some business cards with your logo on. Already you’re seeing how useful and versatile a good logo it can be – and this way, every interaction you have with someone will become a chance to reinforce your brand and to help build recognition.
One particularly big aspect of your branding that you will also need to create is your website. Your website will serve as a portal and shop window for your business, as well as an advert and representative of your business and much more. If your website doesn’t inspire confidence and isn’t memorable then you will miss out on countless marketing opportunities and huge growth potential.
What’s more, if you are an internet marketer or blogger, it may be that your website is pretty much the entire of your business model. If you’re making money from adverts on your website or through sales of digital/affiliate products, then it’s crucial that your website leave a lasting impression so that customers come back to it.
In this case, simply having your logo at the top of your site is not enough. Logos and banners will typically go at the top of a website because a) that fits in with the ‘F Zone’ (which is the region we are most likely to look when we visit a new site) and b) experience teaches us that we should look at the top for titles and branding.
But the fact of the matter is that most people just aren’t that interested in logos and banners. Most of the time we visit a website because we’re interested in the content of a specific article. So as soon as we land on the site, we will scroll down to the text and we will skip past everything else. If you want people to recognize your site next time they visit then you need to differentiate your site in more ways than through the logo alone.
How do you do this then?
One answer is to use the same color scheme and design sensibilities you do in your logo throughout your entire site.
Take Virgin for instance. Virgin is a huge brand, recognizable by its red and white logo. Virgin’s brand is actually particularly important too because it is the unifying feature throughout multiple different branches of business.
Now if you take a look at two of their websites (the main ‘Virgin’ website and the ‘Virgin Active’ website) you will notice that they have something in common – liberal use of the ‘Virgin red’.
As well as quite a lot of white text. This way, no matter which part of the page you are on, you will be reminded that this is a virgin website and the brand will be constantly reinforced.
The same goes for your own site then: try to include call backs to your logo through your choice of color palette, through your background and even through the typeface you use. At the same time, just ensure that your website is recognizable and interesting (without being distracting) no matter which page you’re on or how far you’ve scrolled down. If your site could very easily be any other site in your niche, then you need to think about strengthening its brand identity.
Looking at the screenshot of the Virgin website you might also have noticed something else that is very distinctively ‘Virgin’ – a mugshot of Richard Branson.
As well as his Virgin Brand, Richard Branson has also been somewhat successful in creating a ‘personal brand’. By putting his face and personality at the forefront of much of his marketing and even some of his products, Richard has created an association between himself and his business.
This is something that lends itself particularly well to online business. If you run a website or blog, then you might well use your name as a byline after writing blog posts or you might even appear in videos. Some people will even use their own name as their website name and might use themselves to promote their products. Take a look at Pat Flynn for instance – the owner of Smart Passive Income – whose banner reads ‘The Smart Passive Income Blog with Pat Flynn’. Likewise, Tim Ferriss (who owns the Four Hour Workweek Blog) has effectively built his business around his own name.
If you are selling a fitness product or writing a fitness blog and you happen to be in great shape, then you can use this to your advantage in order to promote your product and to show that it works even.
Attaching yourself to your brand or creating an entirely personal brand is often a good strategy as it helps to build trust (more on that later) and puts a face behind your name. At the same time, people are ‘programmed’ to be very good at recognizing faces and names and as such you can instantly make yourself more memorable by letting people meet the personality behind the website/company.
Some people won’t feel comfortable putting themselves forward in such a way and exposing themselves however and as such may prefer to shy away from the spotlight. Either strategy is fine, just remember that creating a personal brand is a viable option if you want to make your company even more memorable.
The next thing to do with your brand online is to make sure that you are everywhere. This essentially means that you should be on every social media platform, that you should have links all around the web and that generally you should ensure that your potential customers are encountering your brand at every opportunity.
To help your customers find you, you want to create as many in-roads as possible and that means that you should have a Twitter account, Facebook page, Google+ page, YouTube channel, Instagram account, Vine account, Pinterest account, LinkedIn account and more. You can even consider creating an app (even just a simple one) which will give you visibility in the Google Play, Apple App and Windows stores. This also gives your visitors/customers another way to reach you and helps to further strengthen your brand identity (it also still impresses people).
And across all of these disparate platforms you need to ensure that your user name is the same and that you are featuring your branding prominently. This means that your cover image should likely be your logo, while your profile image should be the same across every account and tied closely to the theme of your business (alternatively, you might make the profile image your logo and the cover image something to-do with your brand). Either way, you are working to create as consistent an experience as possible across the net so that people know what to expect when they deal with you and so that you become immediately recognizable and familiar.