Avoid a potential identity crisis with a well-planned logo project

11 Nov 2011

Jeff Fisher

Jeff Fisher, author of the book "Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands," is the Engineer of Creative Identity for Jeff Fisher LogoMotives. His first book, "The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success" was released by HOW Design Books in 2004. Other books are currently in the works.

Fisher, a professional graphic designer for over 30 years, has spent his career designing identities, advertising and marketing materials for major corporations, government agencies, educational facilities, nonprofit organizations and small businesses. He has received over 600 regional, national and international design awards for his logo and corporate identity efforts. His work is featured in over 160 books and publications about logos, the business of graphic design, and small business marketing. Graphic Design USA magazine named Jeff Fisher one of the design industry “People to Watch” in 2009.

The designer first learned of StartupNation when opening a new business bank account in 2005. With the initiation of community forums, Fisher became an active participant in 2006 and was the subject of a SuN podcast interview that same year. In 2008, Jeff Fisher LogoMotives was named a StartupNation Home-Based 100 Winner.

Fisher serves on the Art Institute of Portland Professional Advisory Council, HOW Magazine Board of Advisors and the HOW Design Conference Advisory Council. He has written for HOW Magazine, other industry publications, many webzines and other resources. In addition, he is a internationally-recognized lecturer and educator, making numerous presentations each year on the topics of identity, branding, promotion and social media to design organization, design school, university and business group audiences.

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For over three decades I have been working with small businesses and startups in the creation of logos for new ventures, or the updating of existing company identities. With that expertise under my belt comes one major piece of advice to be shared with all business owners:

Don’t wait until the last minute to consider the logo design needed to represent your business.

Again and again, I’ve received panicky calls and emails from those preparing to open a new business conveying the message “My business is opening in (insert “one week,” “two weeks” or “three weeks” here) and I don’t have a logo.” Seriously?  The identity of your new business, one of the most important branding and marketing elements for your company, is one of the very last things you’ve considered?

In the course of posting entries to this blog, many tips about business logos will be shared. Here are some immediate thoughts:

Make your business identity part of your business plan

When initially mapping out the plan for your new venture, give your potential customers’ possible visual perception of the business some serious thought. Your business identity is just as important as the physical location of your business, the customer base you wish to target, and the product or service to be provided. Consider, and plan for, the creation of a business logo from the get-go.

Budget realistically for a logo design

Often the business owner waiting until the last minute to have a logo design created, finds themselves lacking funds for a proper logo design process. At that point an inexpensive online logo design option may seem like a solution. But should the owner of a new business really go for frugal when investing in the long-term public graphic image of their company? Do the research necessary to determine what logo design resource will best serve the requirements of the business – and establish that budget line item early in the planning stages for the venture.

Define all possible needs for your logo

Often a logo is designed for a new business’ immediate need, instead of giving real thought to the requirements that may occur down the road. Yes, the logo must work in the printing of business cards and letterhead, the creation of product or service information sheets, as an identifier on a web presence, and perhaps in print ads. However, will that design translate well to vinyl signage, the silkscreen printing of T-shirts you may wish to produce, or embroidery for baseball caps to be given to valued customers? Time and money will be saved by defining all possible logo needs early in the process.

Hire a professional

The best result for a logo design need will be produced by a professional designer with a real understanding of the identity design and branding process – and proven track record for creating great logos. Yes, I’m a professional identity designer and have a vested interest in that statement. However, over the past three decades about a quarter of my clientele has come to me with an existing logo needing to be updated or completely redesigned. In many cases that original image was a last minute, shortcut solution to an immediate logo need.

With planning, defining of needs, a realistic budget and the proper design resources in place; solving the identity crisis of a business does not need to be a struggle. Opening for business with a clearly thought out, well-designed logo will provide the opportunity to make a very memorable first impression.

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