Forming A Brand Identity

QUICK FACTS

What It Should Cost:  $5,000 – $40,000

How Long It’ll Take:  1 – 6 Months

Who Can Do It:  Full Service Agencies (Like Us!), Creative Agencies, Branding Agencies & Independent Creatives

Can You Do It Yourself:  Probably Not

What It’ll Do For Your Company:  Make You Look Legit, Attract Customers, Serve As The Basis For All Your Other Advertising & Marketing Efforts

Resources:

Logopond.com
The Web’s Best Logo Gallery

How Not To Design A Logo
A great article about the pitfalls of getting a logo designed the wrong way.

Wolda
The World Logo Design Annual.

Why Doesn’t A Logo Cost $5?
An Explanation Of The Effort / Cost behind logo design.

logodesignlove.com
A good logo design blog.

AKA – How To Get A Logo

For many small business owners, advertising is a daunting prospect.  They know it’s something that needs to be done, they’re just not sure how to go about it.

That’s why we thought we’d create a brass tacks guide to getting your business advertised – what you need to do, the pieces you can do yourself, the bits you’ll need to hire a professional (hopefully us) for and – the answer everybody’s looking for – what it’ll cost.

We’re trying to make good advertising more accessible for smaller companies. It’s a big topic, and if we tried to tackle it all at once, I’m afraid we’d end up with something that was more book-sized than blog-post sized.  So we’ll treat it as an ongoing project – publishing a new article every week.  And starting here with topic numero uno: 6 Things You Should Know About Forming A Brand Identity – AKA: How To Get A Logo

#1 – It’s Critical You Get It Right

Every business needs an identity.  Broken down, this means at least a name, logo and tagline. The best names and logos work together – so that every time a potential customer sees your company’s mark, they learn something about your company. 

If that first impression is of a badly designed logo, a poorly conceived name and a tacky tagline – they’ll assume that they’re dealing with a badly-designed company. 

These elements are the cornerstone of your brand, and you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot if you skimp here. 

#2 – A Good Identity Is Worth Paying For

Cheap Logos Are Often Bad LogosSmall businesses can expect to pay between $5,000 and $40,000 for an identity. I can hear your jaw dropping.  You’re thinking, “A name, logo & tagline seem like such little things – how could they possibly cost anything like $40 large?” 

Well, when you think about the hours behind the research, planning, concepting, revisions and talent that gets poured into a logo design, that range begins to seem a bit more realistic. 

Here at Echo::Factory,  the projects that edge towards the high end of that range are the projects that take months and require hundreds of hours of agency time to create a single name, logo and tagine.  But, that doesn’t mean that every identity package’s cost has to creep into five figures – we’ve done plenty of smaller projects that come in under the $10K range. 

So what’s the difference between a $5,000 identity and a $40,000 identity?  On the lower end, you can expect a minimum of research, one or two initial concepts and just a couple rounds of revisions – ending with the digital delivery of a logo and name.

On the high-end, you should expect a significant amount of consumer and industry research – a wide range of comps, nearly limitless revisions and a identity book that defines the way your materials should and shouldn’t be used. 

Still feeling some sticker shock?  Consider this:  Most of the ads we design last for a few months.  But the logos we design, if we’re doing our job right – should last for years and years.  Spread out over the life of a brand, even logo designs at the high end become downright affordable.

#3 – You Can Tell A Good Logo From A Bad Logo

You can learn to tell the difference between good & bad logosSo, what separates a good logo from bad?  A good logo should, at its foundation, make potential customers like your brand.  So how do you get there?

Take a look at this quote from Smashing Magazine:  “A good logo is distinctive, appropriate, practical, graphic and simple in form, and it conveys the owner’s intended message. A concept or “meaning” is usually behind an effective logo, and it communicates the intended message. A logo should be able to be printed at any size and, in most cases, be effective without color.”

Want to find examples of good logos?  I’ve found no better resource than logopond.com. It’s an online logo gallery where designers critique other designers’ work – so what you see on the site’s homepage is the best of the best.  Spend an hour or two browsing through what’s hot on Logopond, and you’ll begin to get a good idea of what works in logo design.

#4 – Who You Choose To Create Your Identity Makes A Big Difference

Not all logo creators are created the sameOf course – we’re a bit biased when it comes to choosing who you should hire.  We’re a small full-service advertising agency – and we think we’re about the best thing for small businesses since sliced bread.

When you choose a full service agency, you’re working with one team who can handle all your projects.  From a practical point of view, this means that every project you take on with that same group of creatives has a head start – they’ll already be familiar with your brand, your goals, your likes and dislikes. 

Choosing a full-service agency also means that you have a group of professionals with a wide skill-set working on your projects.  The makeup of account teams varies from agency to agency, but on a logo project you can expect to have — at a minimum — the following people working on your logo:

An Account Executive:  They’ll handle meetings, administrative things and the nasty business of transferring your money to the agency.

A Ceative Director: They’re in charge of the overall concept and direction of your identity project.

A Copywriter:  They’ll be conducting research and working on your brand’s name and tagline.

A Designer: Who will be creating the logo itself, choosing typefaces and other visual elements of your branding.

Of course – going with a full service agency isn’t your only option.  You could hire a naming agency to come up with your brand’s name (we’re fond of Eat My Words – mostly because they brilliantly named a frozen yogurt chain “Spoon Me”), a design agency to create your logo, and a marketing agency to construct a memorable tagline. 

If you’re looking to take a budget route – you can try your hand at hiring a freelance copywriter to come up with a name and tagline, and a freelance designer to draft a logo for you.  Just be ware that you’ll be responsible for getting all these people to work together nicely. 

Whichever route you choose, make sure you like and trust the people you work with.  The fact is that when creatives know that a client trusts them, they’ll do better work.  So, if you get a bad vibe from an agency or individual you’re considering, move on.

#5 – It’s A Process

Logo design takes some effortYour logo design should start out with a discussion between you and the creative you’re working with.  In this meeting – your creative will be trying to learn about your industry, your preferences and what you’re looking for in a brand identity.  Be sure you lay all your cards on the table here.  If you loathe the color green, let it spill. 

Your creative will take the info from this meeting back to the office and combine it with research on your industry.  You can help this process by making a list of your top competitors.  And don’t think small here – your identity shouldn’t try to match the crosstown rival so much as the biggest names in the business.  If you’re starting a donut franchise, you shouldn’t be thinking about the mom-and-pop donut shop down the block – you should be designing an identity that will compete with Dunkin’ Donuts.  Even if you have local aspirations – there’s no reason your brand’s identity can’t achieve a national level of quality. 

After your creative has finished their research, they’ll move into the actual creative process.  Creating lists of possible names, sketching logos and brainstorming taglines.  They’ll refine their initial ideas – and repeat the process as necessary until they have something they feel is presentable. 

Finally comes the show – when your creative will walk in to your office with a poster board full of glossy concepts – ready for your approval or derision.  Hopefully, you like something they present – and either right away, or after some revisions, you’ve got an identity for your brand. 

#6 – You Probably Can’t Do The Whole Thing Yourself

You're not going to do this on your own.Many business owners already have an idea for the name of their business – or can come up with one on their own.  But most business owners can’t begin to touch logo design.  You’re pretty much stuck hiring someone to do — at the very least — that bit for you.

Where You Go From Here

Once you have a name, logo and tagline – you have the cornerstone of your brand.  Every other piece of marketing starts here.  Your website, printed materials and signage will all be defined by your identity package.

So, congratulate yourself.  You’ve just built the foundation of your branding efforts.  Sit back, pour yourself a scotch, latte or nutritious smoothie.  You deserve it.