Choosing a logo for your business

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

As a small business owner, you appreciate the importance of standing out and making a lasting first impression. An impactful and recognizable logo helps people remember your company. But creating one from scratch or refreshing your current identity is challenging. Just narrowing down your favorite fonts can be overwhelming. So, with that in mind, we’ve drafted in expert help to offer you some practical advice.

Megan Morahan, our in-house product design Creative Director, explores what makes an effective logo and shares some considerations to keep in mind when choosing or designing your business identity.

Megan has a wealth of experience helping big brands and small businesses express their values visually. And her passion for design is infectious, “I have the best job at Vistaprint because I work with the designers who create all the beautiful template designs and business identities you see on our site.”

Here are her top tips to help you get the right logo for your business.

Understand the purpose of your logo

Your logo acts as a visual representation of what your company does while helping existing and potential customers recognize your business.

Characteristics of an effective logo:

  1. Symbolizes your business values
  2. Increases credibility in the eyes of potential customers
  3. Serves as a visual keepsake for customers

If you’re starting a business

Don’t worry what your startup logo looks like just yet. Instead, ask yourself what you want people to feel when they first encounter your company. Consider the words they would use to describe using your products or services. These words are the essence of your business.

Then you can associate those words or feelings with a look and feel. Think of this initial part as the foundation you’ll build your logo around. It’s important to create a list of business attributes to give you a clear communication goal.

Let’s use a spa as an example. You go to a spa to relax and rejuvenate. These associations need to come through visually so that people get a sense of how they’ll feel relaxing at the spa just by looking at your logo.

Think of some of the words associated with a spa. Close your eyes and imagine you’re there relaxing. What words best sum up your daydream: Calm? Tranquil? Relaxing?
Clean and simple design elements and text treatments would best represent those attributes. The lotus flower is a popular symbol for spas for its cultural associations with purity, beauty and rebirth. It could be coupled with a simple serif font to convey that sense of calm.

On the other hand, if you’re a mechanic, you might want to communicate that you’re practical, hardworking and reliable. How would you visualize these qualities?
You might opt for something vintage and rustic that includes the tools of your trade like a wrench or oil can. These visual clues both communicate that you get your hands dirty fixing cars. They´re also easy to recognize and associate with a service.

If you describe your style as bold and colorful, those attributes should come across in your logo. Look at other businesses with a similar style to get a feel for what works.What colors do they employ to communicate those attributes?

Use a color that makes your logo stand out

The subject of typical emotional associations with colors is fascinating, especially seeing how they differ between cultures. A lot of our customers use black and blue, which is probably due to seeing so many established corporations using these colors. And for good reason. Black is often used as an expression of strength, sophistication, tradition, and trust. Blue is typically associated with competence, trust, dependability, and security.

Go back to the attributes you’ve noted down and think about how you want your customers to feel when they see your logo. Think about what you want your logo to say and how color associations will affect your message. Then consider the type of logo that best suits your business.

Get familiar with different types of logos

There are three basic types of logos:

  1. The first is a text-only or wordmark identity, which is ideal if your business has an established reputation or uses a family name.
  2. The second type of logo consists of a monogram or lettermark, which use the first letters of the company name in a visual way. This combination provides both a visual representation of your company and a verbal recognition of your name.
  3. The third type combines a symbol with words. The logo is often made up of a shape that acts as a visual clue to a service or product. This serves as the central part of your logo, which when coupled with a company name creates a recognizable and enduring look.

Balance your design elements

One of my favorites is the World Wildlife Fund logo. It’s recognizable and has been around for ages but doesn’t feel outdated at all. It’s one of those classic logos we all recognize. I love the smart way the white space wraps around the panda to convey a sense of protection.

Another of my favorites is Bully Boy Distillers. It’s a Boston liquor company with a fascinating family story. What I like about their logo is that it’s also bold and recognizable—just like their name. It’s one color and employs an imposing horse icon. Their labels couple elegant typography with a solid silhouette to achieve an established look, despite the brand being relatively new. This example demonstrates how the right font selection can elevate an icon.

Make your logo versatile

Knowing where people see and interact with your logo is crucially important. If you own a coffee shop, you probably want your logo to go on your T-shirts as well as the menus, flyers, website and your Facebook page. It’s also likely to be included on your signage, so it needs to work in a variety of sizes.

If you work offsite as a landscaper, plumber or building contractor, you may want to advertise on the go by adding your logo to the side of your vehicle as a car door magnet or vinyl decal. So, make sure all text is clear and easy to read. Even when your cruising along the highway. Be sure to test the legibility of your logo from various distances.

Get help from an expert

If you don’t feel confident designing your own logo and have a limited marketing budget, you’re not alone. The good news is, there are several options available to help you design your logo.

If you just need something simple that communicates your area of business and contact details, browse the designs in our galleries. There are over 5000 business card designs to choose from covering most sectors and styles with a range of matching products. The logos you see in the business card gallery can feature across your complete marketing toolkit.

If you want something unique, you can work with one of our designers to help create a unique logo for your business based on your specific requirements.

Or, if you have someone in mind you’d like to work with, these tips on working with a designer will help you communicate your vision and get the best results.

Good luck!

Vistaprint is not associated with or sponsored by the owners of the trademarked logos featured in this article

Megan Morahan – Creative Director, Product Design

Megan’s passion for design was first sparked by doodling in school textbooks. When a classmate saw her scribbles, Megan was elected to create the campaign posters for her class presidency campaign. After a landslide victory at the polls, her confidence and interest in art and design grew. Little did she know something this fun could be a career. Fast forward a few years, and Megan now leads and learns from a passionate and talented design team.