Do I need a logo when starting out?
I finally came up with a business name and wondering if I need a logo right now. I won't be able to create one myself and looking at everything I need to do and my limited budget, does paying someone to help with a logo make the most sense right now? Thank you for your feedback.
First thing's first: a logo does not equal your brand. It is part of your overall branding. Think of it like this though – your brand is really who you are and what you do as well as how people perceive you. Can you start building a brand without an official logo? Sometimes. Look at how many companies basically just pick a font for their company name and get going with doing business. Many clients that I've worked with who operate service-based businesses don't really have an official logo beyond just their company name with a specific font. I usually do recommend they come up with a logo simply because it's a visual element that immediately becomes part of their marketing and can help set them apart from competitors, but some do run with just a font for quite some time.
Now, if your company is product based, I think it's essential to come up with a logo right at the beginning. Think of huge companies like Nike, they got their logo pretty early on in their development and it's become an icon of the brand over the years.
The one thing I really don't recommend is what's called logo farms or crowdsourced logos. I've written a couple blogs about the pitfalls of that if you want to read more about it: http://jvmediadesign.com/blog/design/thinking-about-crowdsourcing-your-logo/ and http://jvmediadesign.com/blog/design/why-a-5-professional-logo-is-a-lie/
Hope that helps!
My first toe in the water of small business had a logo I created myself. It was a solid blue triangle with a white exclamation point in the middle. It looked good at small sizes. Along with company name, I put it on business cards which is what I wanted first. That card and logo was simply something to give people so that hopefully they would remember me and contact info.
It's been my experience that no one other than graphic designers, looks at logos all that much. However, it is an expected part of a business card and, to me, the standard object in the upper left corner of a web page. So it is part of the first impression you make.
There's an old saying I keep in mind - KISS "Keep It Simple, Stupid". A splash of color and a recognizable symbol were enough to start with for me. Find something simple and use it as a ver. 1 placeholder. Evolve it later if you want. Ideally YOU KEEP the company name. I worried more about that than I did the logo, because that became the domain name, which is not as easy to change.
You can always change your logo when you have reached the point where the business is generating a profit. There are some online logo makers where you can make a logo for free. Another option is Fiverr. You can get a logo made there for 5 bucks. If you go that route have several people make a 5 buck logo and pick the one you like the best. 50 bucks would get you ten logos to chose from. If you want to try making your own free one just google the topic and you will find dozens. The one I hear most about is https://logomakr.com/ They have a video on their site to show you how to use it. There are lots of others as well.
You've started in the right direction, I'd suggest a domain name as mentioned before as you establish your brand. However in terms of a logo, I would refrain from using services like Fiverr as I've seen/heard many horror stories of logos being copied there. Free logo makers/tools I think cheapen your brand as you'll look similar to many others.
Instead you can maybe get a student to design one or use a simple text based logo to start. I also don't believe that logos are only important to graphic designers. A logo is part of your brand and can also be utilized as a communication tool depending on product/services your business provides.
Of course once funds become available, you can take necessary steps to make improvements.
The value of a logo is not the same for every type of business. To a retail store your sign plays a more significant role in your early success, and an icon or graphic logo is not important. You just need a strong, unique wordmark and appropriate colour for the sign. If your business is a product, the design of the actual item and it's packaging are more important than a logo. In this case spend your money on packaging and again, just use a simple, but unique wordmark for a logo. If your business is a service a logo is much more important. It is your sign and your packaging. Aside from yourself, it's the only thing defining your company image visually in people's minds. In this case I would hire a graphic designer early on because you only get one chance to make a first impression. Even in a small service business, you want to give the impression the business is bigger than you. That builds customer trust.
As you have decided on your business name that business name should evoke some insight into what your enterprise is going to do. Your business name should also conjure up some fairly obvious image in your prospects and customers mind’s eye. If you don’t know what that is ask a few for their impressions. This should help you to determine a suitable (and essential) Logotype. Before you decide on your logo there are 3 far more important issues to confirm.
1 - Can you ‘register’ your company name in the USA?
2 – Can you then register your name as a ‘Trade Mark’ within your chosen industry?
3 – Can you acquire a URL with your chosen nomenclature?
Protection of the name you have selected is very important as one day you may wish to sell or franchise it!
You don’t need to spend a lot of money or engage a graphic design studio, you can start with a good typeface and appropriate colour scheme. Look at the graphic representations of the established and successful companies you will be competing with, what clues do they give you on what is acceptable to your target customers?
Initially make sure that what you have chosen is not already in use by another and that you can protect your IP.