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10 Questions to Ask When Designing Your Company’s Logo

Logos are the face of your company, the harbingers of the all-important first impression. Follow these pro tips to hit your first logo out of the park.

Kim Lachance Shandrow

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Great logos are recognisable in a blink. They also should make a lasting impression.

Target hits the bullseye, Nike goes swoosh, and Apple catches the eye.All three company’s iconic logos are unique, memorable and stand the test of time. They instantly and consistently do what a potent logo should: Identify a brand, make it stand out and, ideally, drive customer interest and sales.

We all know great logos, but we don’t all know that great logos aren’t easy to create. From concept to color to rollout, there’s much to consider when boiling your brand down to a single emblem.

Related: How to Design Your Business Logo

“We have less time and less space to tell our stories in than ever before,” says Alina Wheeler, a Philadelphia-based branding expert and author of Designing Brand Identity (John Wiley and Sons, Inc., fourth edition, 2013). “To rise above the clutter, a symbol or a logo is the fastest communication known to man. It unlocks associations with your brand on sight, so it’s important to get it right the first time around.”

Here are 10 essential questions to ask when designing your company’s first logo:

1. What types of logos are there?

Wheeler separates logos into four categories:

  • Wordmarks are freestanding word or multi-letter abbreviation groupings comprising a logo, a.k.a. logotypes. Companies with wordmark logos include eBay, IBM, CNN, Google, Kleenex, Saks Fifth Avenue and, yes, the publication you’re reading right now,Entrepreneur.
  • Letterform logos are comprised of a single letter. Think Honda, Uber, Unilever, Beats and McDonald’s.
  • Pictorial logos are illustrated symbols of recognisable things. Starbucks, Twitter and Playboy all have pictorial logos.
  • Abstract logos don’t represent anything otherwise recognisable, like abstract art. Perhaps the most famous brand to successfully pull off an abstract logo is Nike.

Related: How important is a company logo when starting up a business?

2. Which type of logo would best suit my company?

Unfortunately, there is no one type of logo that works for everyone, Wheeler says. “Which fits you best depends a lot on your name and what you provide or make.”

For example, if you have a short company name like eBay, a wordmark logotype could work well. Wordmarks and letterform logos generally help consumers remember your name better than abstract logos. If you opt for an abstract symbol, however, be sure it’s straightforward and mirrors the personality of your brand.

3. What are the key points about my business that my logo should convey?

Your logo – from the colour to the shape – should provide an immediate sense of what your company is all about.

“When people look at it, they should get a feel for your brand personality and your distinctive point of view,” Wheeler says. “They should know that you’re different from your competitors, you’re professional, a real business and you’re confident and successful in what you do.”

Amazon’s logo, represented by the company’s name, with an arrow below it pointing from the “a” to the “z,” is an example of a logo that embodies its namesake’s brand identity exceptionally well, according to Wheeler. “The arrow doubles as a smile that conveys friendly customer service and it connects the ‘a’ to the ‘z’ because Amazon offers everything A to Z. It’s all there.”

4. What are the best logo colours?

Color choice is incredibly important. To best differentiate yourself, Wheeler says it’s paramount to choose a colour that your biggest competitors do not use in their logos.

Also consider that different colors pack different psychological punches. For example, the colour red – appropriately used in Red Bull’s logo – is active, intense and even a little alarming. Yellow is happy, energetic and fresh, perhaps a wise choice for a company focused on health and wellness. Meanwhile, blue – the hue of Ford, Samsung and GE’s logos – evokes confidence, calm and reliability.

5. What fonts should I consider?

Fonts, like colors, convey and inspire various emotions. Different fonts work best for different businesses.

For example, a logo for a legal firm – which should convey honourability, strength and justice – might best be represented in a bold, straightforward font free of flourish. Whereas a candy shop might opt for a whimsical font that communicates youth, sweetness and fun.

6. Should I design a logo myself or hire a graphic designer to do it?

Even if you think you’re a decent drawer and even if you’re on a tight budget, Wheeler suggests that you leave designing your logo to a trained graphic designer.

“Working with a skilled graphic designer is really critical. They understand what a good logo is and how it needs to scale and function across different media and marketing channels, like on your website, within an app or on a storefront sign, all key things that shouldn’t be left to chance or guessed at on the fly.”

That said, it’s still a smart move to know which logo colors, shapes and fonts you like and don’t like ahead of meeting with a designer. Communicate your preferences to him or her before any mockups are drafted.

7. How much will it cost?

Professional design firms typically charge anywhere between $4,000 to $15,000 for a logo alone, which might not be in the budget for startups and small businesses.

For a more affordable option, Evenson Design Group founder Stan Evanson suggests contracting a freelance designer who charges between $35 and $150 per hour, depending on his or her level of experience. “But don’t hire someone because of their bargain price. Find a designer who’s familiar with your field and your competition,” Evenson says.

There are also several web-based professional logo design providers, like Logoworks, that provide logo concept, design and revisions packages for as low as $299 to $599, depending on the number of logo designs delivered.

8. Where should I display my logo?

A better question would be “Where shouldn’t you display it?” because you’ll want to show it off “pretty much everywhere,” Wheeler says. Online, weave your logo into your website, digital ad campaigns and on social-media sites where you have company accounts, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Offline, put your logo on your front door, business card, product packaging, uniform and on company stationary and contracts.

9. What are some mistakes to avoid?

The worst mistake of all, Wheeler says, is settling on a logo before seriously considering your key competitors’ logos. If your logo ends up similar to theirs, even in the slightest, customers might not be able to tell you apart and you could lose business.

Wheeler also cautions against sizing up your logo on a piece of paper only, as opposed to envisioning it across several diverse marketing places and spaces, like as an app icon, on a website, a billboard, or on a T-shirt or the side of a truck.

10. Is it too soon to worry about how my logo will look in 10 years?

Most logos, Wheeler says, need some touching up after a decade’s time or so anyway, to avoid growing stale. The key is to get it right from the start, then fine tune as needed over time.

“Think of it, the Michelin Man has undergone Botox and minor surgery a bunch of times in the last 100 years,” she says. “But the core idea is still the same as the first Michelin Man.”

Related: How to Create a Logo

Kim Lachance Shandrow is a Los Angeles-based tech journalist who specializes in writing about iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android phones, as well as social media marketing, startups, streaming TV, apps and green technology. Her work has appeared on NBC’s The Today Show, MSNBC.com, NBC.com, and in The Los Angeles Times and The International Business Times. She also consults for Ameba, a Canadian multiplatform children’s streaming TV startup.

Company Posts

Register A Company In South Africa

With over 120 Start-up Services, Company Partners is the perfect Partner for Company, Tender and Contract compliance.

Company Partners

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Company Partners is the leading Company Registration Service Provider in South Africa, offering a One-Stop-Shop for all the Company Registration and Tender Compliance Documents.

With over 120 Start-up Services, Company Partners is the perfect Partner for Company, Tender and Contract compliance.

Established in 2006, Company Partners guarantees that the services they offer meet the standards of the best in the industry. Over 30 full-time Consultants offer services and standards of the highest quality.

Company Registration Benefits

Your Company Structure is the first consideration you need to make when you want to register a new Company at the CIPC. The preferred choice of a legal entity for most Businesses is a Pty Company.

Related: Business Model Design – Picking The Business Model That Works For You

Here’s why:

  1. You protect your personal life and assets from your business when you register a company. If one runs a business, it is necessary to operate in a safe legal structure where your business assets and risks are separated from your personal ones.
  2. You look more professional when you operate under a registered company name. If you want to obtain a large contract or a tender, it appears more professional to trade in a Pty Company capacity than in your own name.
  3. Most Suppliers and Government Departments require businesses to be registered as a Company to apply for their Tenders and Contracts.

How to Register a Company

Step 1: Complete and submit the easy online sign-up form here.

Step 2: Your dedicated Consultant will call you to assist you with any questions you may have.

Step 3: Email your ID and easy supported documents – which your Consultant will explain.

Step 4: Within a few days you will receive your brand new Company ready to use for Tenders and Contracts, via email. You can contact your Consultant at any time on a toll-free number.

Related: New Fund For Small Businesses To Be Developed

Need a Company fast? Perhaps consider a Shelf Company

Company Partners offer a variety of Shelf Company Options to suit your needs, including 2016- year Registration Number Shelf Companies. Within 24 hours after purchase, you will receive the registered Shelf Company.

You can start using your Company Registration Number and Bank Account (for income) immediately.

Each Shelf Company includes a 2016 Year Registration Number, Free Share Certificates, a Free ‘Tax Number’ and a Free ‘Official BEE Affidavit’.

You can also make use of a Nedbank Business Bank Account that’s active for your Shelf Company.

Luckily, getting your own Shelf Company is easy in terms of compliance. All that’s required is that you are at least 18 years of age, an ID document / Passport and a South African Business Address.

Why use Company Partners to Register a Company?

Fast timeframes: Your Company will be registered fast and effectively online. Your documentation is set-up in less than 24 hours, after which CIPC will process it.

Simple requirements: The only requirement for Company Registration is an ID / Passport. Everything gets done online, so you can be based anywhere in South Africa or the World.

Dedicated Consultant: Your own dedicated professional Consultant takes care of the entire process – he or she is available on his / her email and also on a toll-free number.

Professional Service: With years of experience of representing our Clients in Government, the entire process runs smoothly over the Internet. No lost documents and no frustration.

Company Partners completes all necessary applications correctly and reviews all the paperwork for you. You simply have to wait for your company documents via e-mail, confirming when you may start trading using your registration detail.

Related: Beauty Of Failure: The Art Of Embracing Rejection

After Company Registration

Any new Business needs guidance to prepare for Tenders and Contracts. After Company Partners gets you registered for your Company, Company Partners can assist you through the entire Company start-up process (optional).

That means they will ensure you have everything you need for a Tender or Contract application like a new PTY Company, BEE, Tax Clearance, VAT Registration, Logo Design, Website, Business Plan, COID, Letter of Good Standing, NHBRC, Accounting, Payroll and more.

Get Started

To start, just complete and submit the easy application form here and a friendly Consultant will contact you. Alternatively contact Company Partners toll-free on 0800 007 269 (toll-free from landlines and cell phones).

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Start-up Advice

Alan Knott-Craig Answers Your Questions On Money And Partners

From starting the right business, to managing business partners and finding your magic number, there is a secret to happiness.

Alan Knott-Craig

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If I get rich will I be happy? — JC Lately

Does money equal happiness? Mostly, yes. Research in the US shows that your happiness is proportionate to your earnings up until you earn $80 000 per annum. Thereafter, incremental income gains have a negligible effect on your happiness.

In other words: More money will make you happy as long as you’re poor. Once you break out of poverty and enter a comfortable middle-class existence, more money will not make you happier.

These are the top three for old folks:

  • I wish I’d spent more time with family.
  • I wish I’d taken more risks.
  • I wish I’d travelled more.

Therein lies the secret to happiness. Spend time with your family. Take risks. Travel.

But first, make money. Don’t do any of the above until you’re making enough money not be stressed about money.

Related: Your Questions Answered With Alan Knott-Craig

What is the magic number? — Mushti

The magic number is the amount of money you need to not worry about money ever again. If you don’t need toys like Ferraris, yachts and jets, the magic number is R130 million. Here’s the math: R130 million will earn R9,1 million in interest annually (assuming 7% interest). After tax that is R5,46 million.

Assuming you need 50% to maintain a good lifestyle, that leaves approximately R2,7 million for reinvestment, which is enough to keep your capital amount in touch with inflation for 50 years. The balance of R2,7 million (after tax) is for your living costs. In South Africa, R2,7 million will afford you a lifestyle that allows you to send your kids to a great school and university, to travel overseas a couple of times a year, and to live in a comfortable house.

Over time your living costs (and inflation) will eat into your capital amount. After 50 years you should be down to nil, assuming you earn zero other income in that time.

In 50 years, you will probably be dead. If you’re not dead, your kids will be able to support you (because they love you and they have a great university education).

I am the sole director of a company (the others still have full-time jobs and don’t want to be conflicted) and there is pro-rata shareholding based on our initial shareholder loans. However, I am putting in most of the hard work, together with one of the other actuaries. How best do I manage the director/shareholder dynamic? I obviously want to make as much progress as possible but there are times when I need the input from the others (and their responses aren’t always as quick as I would like). — Mike

If you have any perception of unfairness regarding effort/risk vs reward, deal with it NOW! You can’t do so later. The best approach is honesty. Call your partners together. Explain your thinking. Perhaps argue for 25% ‘sweat equity’ for yourself. Everyone dilutes accordingly. Ideally cut a deal whereby you have an option to pay back all their loans, plus interest, within six months, and you get 100% of equity (unless they quit their jobs and join full-time).

Equity dissent must be resolved long before the business makes money, otherwise it will never be resolved.

Related: Alan Knott-Craig’s Answers On Selling Internationally And Researching Your Idea

What do you think of WiFi in taxis?— Ntembeko

It’s a good idea, but not original. Before embarking on a start-up, you should survey the landscape for competitors. Just because there are none doesn’t mean no one has tried your idea.

It just means that everyone that tried has failed. You need to be 100% sure that you have some ‘edge’ that makes you different from everyone who came before you (and failed). Otherwise you will fail. What is your advantage that is different to everyone who came before?


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Start-up Advice

What You Need To Know About The Lean Start-up Model

The Lean Start-up philosophy was developed by Eric Ries, a Silicon Valley-based entrepreneur who also sat on venture capital advisory boards. He published The Lean Startup in 2011, igniting a movement around a new way of doing business.

Entrepreneur

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The model follows key precepts that include:

Taking untested products to market

The fact that too many start-ups begin with an idea for a product that they think people want, spending months (or even years) perfecting that product without ever testing it in the market with prospective customers.

When they fail to reach broad uptake from customers, it’s often because they never spoke to prospective customers and determined whether or not the product was interesting. The earlier you can determine customer feedback, the quicker you can adjust your model to suit market needs.

The ‘build-measure-learn’ feedback loop is a core component of lean start-up methodology

The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to begin the process of learning as quickly as possible. Once the MVP is established, a start-up can work on tuning the engine. This will involve measurement and learning and must include actionable metrics that can demonstrate cause and effect.

Utilising an investigative development method called the ‘Five Whys’

This involves asking simple questions to study and solve problems across the business journey. When this process of measuring and learning is done correctly, it will be clear that a company is either moving the drivers of the business model or not. If not, it is a sign that it is time to pivot or make a structural course correction to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy and engine of growth.

Lean isn’t only about spending less money

It’s also not only about failing fast and as cheaply as possible. It’s about putting a process in place, and following a methodology around product development that allows the business to course correct.

Progress in manufacturing is measured by the production of high quality goods

The unit of progress for lean start-ups is validated learning. This is a rigorous method for demonstrating progress when an entrepreneur is embedded in the soil of extreme uncertainty. Once entrepreneurs embrace validated learning, the development process can shrink substantially. When you focus on figuring the right thing to build — the thing customers want and will pay for, rather than an idea you think is good — you need not spend months waiting for a product beta launch to change the company’s direction. Instead, entrepreneurs can adapt their plans incrementally, inch by inch, minute by minute.

Source: theleanstartup.com

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