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10 Mistakes Small Businesses Make with Logo Design

Great design can give your business a competitive edge. People are willing to pay more for your products or services, or even share about (read: advertise) your business for free. (If you don’t believe me, visit Pinterest). However, there are some common pitfalls many fall into:

1. Lack of research

A thorough online research is the best way to avoid accidentally copying the visuals or the name of another business. Studying your competitors is also a great way to determine your own competitive edge. What makes your business special? This should be the starting point of your logo design and can be done together with your designer.

2. Starting out with a “Temporary Logo”

mamasThe logic seems flawless: Draw up something in Microsoft Paint to get your business up and running, generate some income and then be able to hire a designer. What you’re actually doing is imprinting this image in the minds of two very important groups: your closest network and early adapters, who are the first to come in contact with you business. This is particularly risky, if the services / products you offer are considered prestigious, luxury or are otherwise not necessities.

3. Buying a “pre made” logo

This might not be a problem, but keep in mind that any designs already displayed in online galleries, however “exclusive”, might have been copied and used somewhere else. This is obviously a breach of copyright, but hey – it’s the internet.

4. Picking it from an image bank

The image banks have some lovely designs (and some terrible ones), but they are not unique. Most are designed for specific businesses, so the likelihood of a rival business having the same logo is even higher.

pms-logo5. Letting an amateur do it

This should be fairly obvious. While it’s nice to offer artistically gifted nieces and nephews opportunities, never gamble with your branding. Let them draw something to hang on your office wall.

6. Not testing it

Even if you’re in a hurry, do a quick “road test” before releasing your new logo in to the world. Find some people who know nothing about your business. Instead of telling them, ask: What do you think this business does? What do you think their pricing is like? etc. Customers “read” logos and trademarks largely subconsciously, forming impressions in seconds – especially online. Make sure your visuals are telling the right story.

7. Failing to account for different uses

Make sure your designer is aware of any special applications for your logo – for example wood engraving, stencil, watermark, a tiny pixel size etc. You don’t want to end up with a logo that only looks good in full colour, large size, or on red background. Also make sure you have a version of the logo in a vector format (.eps or .ai usually), which can be scaled to any size without losing quality.

BadLogo-Orientais8. Failing to account for dirty minds

It’s worth testing your new logo with a few teenagers. They might see something you missed.

9. Using it wrong

Even if your designer hasn’t supplied you with Brand Guidelines to explain the correct usage of your logo, there are a few precautions you can take: Leave space around it. Don’t change proportions by stretching. Don’t blow it up to use as your Facebook cover image (it’s much better as a profile pic). Don’t use on a busy background (such as a photo). Whatever background colour the logo was delivered to you on (likely white) is usually the safest option. If unsure, talk to your designer!

10. Only budgeting for a logo

If you only have money for a logo design and nothing else, don’t do it! It’s bit like buying beautiful leather shoes and wearing them with your pajamas. Design isn’t going to give you a real edge, unless it is applied across the board on your stationary, website, Facebook page, packaging, brochures… A smart designer will work within your budget, thinking of ways to keep your look uniform and setting you up with necessary templates and design elements to utilize yourself.