Guide to Your First Logo

Getting your first business logo can be daunting. With such a variety of possible sources and price ranges, where do you start? At JYZ Design, we break it down for you. Though we truly believe in what we do and may be a little bias, we’ll happily spell out for you the pros and cons of all your options.

Before you start logo hunting

Before searching for someone to create your visual identity, know it yourself. Make sure you know the answers to these questions and make sure who you talk to asks these questions.

  1. What brand are you building?
    This can be a complex question. Start with keywords like – professional, modern, hipster, youthful, traditional, trendy, artistic. What do you want your clients and customers associate with your company? How will you stand out?
  1. Who is your audience?
    Are you targeting a niche group of people or a larger group? Who are they, what do they like and what are they looking for from a company like yours?
  1. What imagery will help people understand what you do?
    There are literal logos and there are conceptual ones. Whether your logo represents a mantra, service or idea… make it count so you have a story to tell if anyone asks. Or keep it simple and modern, have it speak for itself.
  1. What makes your company unique?
    Everyone has competitors, if you don’t, you’re lucky! How will you differentiate your company image? Can you say this with the logo?

Where to get your first logo design

Now to think about where to get your logo. Consider your budget, the precision of your idea and the level of expertise you’d like to consult.

  1. Online Generator/Marker
      Websites like fiverr and logomakr have made it extremely budget friendly to source cheap logos. As online international markets are competitive, prices have gotten lower and lower over the years. However, this often means they source pre-made stock logos to edit. This means your logo may not be unique or personalized. However, this is alright with some smaller companies just looking to get started.
  1. Local Freelancers
    Every area will have individual freelancers that work in the gig economy, picking up what they can get and meeting up in coffee shops. They are usually students, doing it part time or as a hobby. Of course, your experience will differ person to person– one person may grasp your vision right away while another may not. Check their portfolio thoroughly and make sure there are projects in it that you like. As it’s harder to hold individuals liable, make sure you use a reputable invoicing or payment system and process, so your work gets completed according to your expectations.
  1. Local Boutique Agencies
    Mid-size agencies like JYZ Design offer the best of both words – the personalization of working directly with designers while offering a certain level of expertise and professionalism in business operations. Always request a meeting or discussion so that all your thoughts can be put on the table. Make sure there is a process involved and that the company understands that logos hardly are perfect on the first try. The merging of your business visions and creative expertise is the responsibility of the company. Prepare a reasonable budget that will accommodate for around 10-20 hours of work and make sure your final deliverables include all the different logo styles you may need as well as a branding sheet for future marketing.
  1. Multinational Corporate Agencies
    They are big because they are good – regimented, structured and processes mean they were able to build a company that way. Be wary however of padded up pricing quotes, filled with undeliverable scopes that you will be charged hourly for. Corporate agencies offer more comprehensive branding deliverables, often documents filled with pages of do’s and don’ts. You need something like this to grow and sustain a sizeable brand where lots of moving parts will come into play.

Choosing a Name and Domain in 2017

The most frustrating and time consuming process that JYZ Design encounters is when a client tasks us with helping them come up with a name for their product or service. It is easy enough to actually come up with a name that a client likes, but then inputting that name into a domain registrar is when the hair pulling starts. Is a client going to pay $30,000 for their perfect name? Not unless they have some serious VC’s backing them. Between domain squatters and every Tom, Dick and Harry starting the next big thing-as the cost of entry is so low-it seems all the names have been used, and every .com domain has been bought.

If you are looking for that single word, properly spelled, iconic name I will go out on a limb and say you are ten years too late. I would even stand on that limb and say the same about obvious misspellings of words. And there’s no point going for un-obvious misspellings, for obvious reasons.

So what is the solution? Assuming you are set on a .com name there are a few ways it can go. The simplest way is if your preferred name is already used but in a different industry and/ or city, you can just try that name with your city behind it. For example, you will be a local industry and the original owner of the domain is not a national or international company. You never want your name associated with an already more famous brand.

Beyond that, we have had some success using foreign words that are either known in English, sound poetic, have intrinsic meaning, or are easily pronounceable. But to assume this will be easy is to assume no French people (or whomever) buy domain names.

Another method we have found to work is the use of acronyms paired with other abbreviations or words. This opens innumerable other avenues to explore and has resulted in happy clients from our business.

One area JYZ Design seeks to avoid is the use of random, funny words (zook, quoke, etc). My belief is that those names arise from a combination of a lack of imagination and the wrong assumption that names such as google or twitter came about from the same application of random words to their product.

The tl;dr of this is that there is usually no quick answer. We have gone through the process where it has taken up to six weeks to find a combination of name and availability that satisfies a client. The point is, while choosing a name seems straightforward, it has become a lengthy research project. Allow the writers and designers the time and scope to flesh out a name, and talented people will find that name which jumps out at you, and by extension, your targeted market.

Guerilla Marketing in 2017

With the decline of traditional media (newspapers, TV, radio) and the rise of social media to a parallel position, marketing has become both easier and more difficult. In the past a company could buy an ad on the local news hour (never mind national TV campaigns) and expect to reach tens-to-hundreds of thousands of potential customers who were all essentially hostage watching the same program. In today’s market, viewership for these types of programs has plummeted, and the hours spent on social media sites has risen to takes its place, especially among the coveted demographics.

So businesses have moved to social media to promote themselves. Just slap an ad on facebook, and watch the loot pile up, right? Not likely. If you’re like me, you have never once clicked on a facebook ad as you’re scrolling through your news feed. “Joe Smith, real estate agent, low fees!” is the cyber equivalent of those laughable local TV ads from not too long ago.

To grab your attention when all you have to do is keep scrolling for memes, doggy videos and baby pictures the contemporary business needs a brand and a marketing strategy to compete with what the eye of the consumer is drawn to. For instance, an interesting graphic, a well thought out slogan, tongue-in-cheek humour, the willingness to not be safe and so on. It seems a bit of a dichotomy, but the modern consumer doesn’t want safe, even as the modern society is moving towards a “social justice” oriented culture. It’s almost like that lizard part of our brain that craves rebelliousness is dormant in our public lives, but still needs to make itself known every now and then.

It is my contention that the reason recent flop ads such as the Pepsi/ Kendall Jenner or the McDonald’s dead dad spot were so maligned is that they tried to piggyback on recent societal trends to find their audience. And the impulsive reaction was one of almost disgust that something as relatively important as a social movement or something so unfortunate as a dead father would appropriated so cynically to sell products. That’s not what people want; consumers crave genuine, local, artisanal over mass produced. The millennial generation doesn’t want to be told that Black Lives Matter activism is sponsored by Pepsi; the notion is antithetical to the cause.

This is where guerilla marketing comes in. We partner with a product or service that is experiential, or “cool without being trendy”, or the new paradigm in its field. We brand it based on its merits and define categories, rather than define the product based on some other trend. We create associations with head/ taglines that disregard “rules” or “trends” because we want our products to make their own rules, to set their own trends. The companies we want to partner with are young and growing, the companies that will set the new foundation for what people want to experience. Our marketing is reflective of this; disregard what the academics and old, male shareholders feel comfortable and safe doing and embrace what this new generation of consumers desire-the real and genuine, the prose which reflects how they talk and think, the products they WANT to associate themselves with rather than a monolith they have no choice but to consume.

Our guerilla marketing makes your company what you want it to be: hip, edgy and the avant garde of your industry, with the prospects for growth with the current generation and beyond of “woke” consumers.