If you've fiiinally decided to take the plunge and start a small business, you may be wondering how to go about getting a logo designed. The downside is, you're on a super tight budget. The upside is, you've discovered some amazing online resources that will help you make it yourself. Yes! This is the best idea ever! I'm reeeally good at DIY!
I would have thought the same exact thing...before I became a graphic designer. My first job out of design school was to create ads for clients of a luxury magazine. The businesses ran the gamut from local sole proprietors to international, multi-million-dollar chains. The branding files I received from said clients were just as varied. Some clients were in tip-top shape, handing over files that made my job a breeze. Other clients provided Microsoft Word docs and teeny tiny images on white blocky backgrounds. Some people couldn't even provide a logo file. "Can't you [the designer] just find one somewhere online? We can't wait to see our faaaaabulous ad!" You'd surmise the big chains would have it together, but I was shocked to discover that there was no correlation between the size of the company and the quality of their branding.
Where am I going with this? Well, if you've done some research, you may have come across some websites that sell stock graphics—even pre-designed logos and identities. All you have to do is type in your business name, and voilà! A beautiful, professional logo for under $20! There are even some apps that allow you to create your own layout, change colors, choose fonts, and move around graphic elements. As a fellow creative, I completely understand how satisfying—even exhilarating—this could feel.
Everything is awesome...until one of two things happens:
- You try to order something with your logo on it (think: t-shirts, bags, banners, etc.) and the logo file you have doesn't fit the technical requirements. BTW // this is very, VERY common. We run into this quite frequently when making custom stamps.
- One of your competitors is using the SAME design.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
- Stock graphics are GREAT for personal projects. If you want to make stuff for a party or design your own wedding invites, go for it. Designers are putting out some gorgeous work, and I don't blame them for selling in this format. (Custom work is extremely time-consuming and you can make more money in less time selling one design to many people.)
- Stock graphics are also fitting for small-scale "hobby" businesses. If you're selling crocheted scarves in your free time and don't plan on quitting your day job, there's no point in making a huge investment in branding. Just find something that works for you (and your budget) and roll with it.
On the other hand...
- If you have quit your day job and you're serious about starting a business, my advice is to get a professional to help you. This does NOT mean you have to spend more than you can afford. If you want to save money, do as much prep work as possible. This may mean using some stock graphics to make a mock-up you like, then handing it to a designer to make some changes. In the end, you should have a logo that is UNIQUE to your business. This way, you can trademark your logo and protect your identity.
- By hiring a pro, you'll be getting the RIGHT kinds of files. Every small business should have a logo in either .ai or .eps format. These are vector files that can be scaled to any size without losing detail. (You can also easily change the colors.)
- When "interviewing" a designer, make sure they don't use stock graphics for logo work...otherwise you're back to square one.
Branding can be expensive (and time-consuming), but if you build a solid foundation you'll be SO glad in the long run. Designers will be able to create what you need in less time...which will save you money, speed things up, and strengthen your brand. Plus, if you take the time to develop something you reeeeeeally love, you won't feel the need to rebrand every year.