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Help, My Logo is So 1999!





Do you look at your own logo and get the feeling you’re still stuck in the 20th century?

Most large corporations “refresh” their logos over the years. Periodically they give them makeovers. An updated font here, a new color there, maybe some stripes — and you have yourself an updated logo.

Well, I decided to take the big step in re-doing a logo for one of my smaller sites, Selling to Small Businesses.

This is the first article in a 3-part series. I am going to walk you through the entire process of commissioning a professional-looking, custom logo for that site. The entire process will be carried out online, using the Logoworks by HP service.

You’ll be able to watch over my shoulder throughout that process. But you have an active role, too. Because you will be asked for your input on the logo designs. You see, I hope you will help choose the new logo design.

Background about the Site

Selling To Small Businesses is a fledgling site of mine.

It’s a B2B site. The purpose of that website is to give insights to businesses of any size — small, medium or large — which sell products and/or services to the small business market. In other words, it is designed for vendors and service providers to the small business market. With 27 million small businesses in the United States alone, and many millions more outside the U.S., obviously there are a lot of vendors and service providers whose sweet spot is small businesses.

In fact, many small businesses serve and sell to other small businesses. So it’s often small biz selling to other small biz.

Right now the site is based on a common blog template. It has a text-based logo across the top. Here is the current logo:

Original Selling to Small Businesses logo

Pretty bland, right? Boring!

The logo — in fact that whole site — looks “hobbyish.” So it has colored my perception of how I treat the site. It’s always the lowest priority.

Well, I intend to change that. And the first step is getting a professional-looking logo. Then down the road I’ll install a professional-looking design, too.

Starting The Logo Design Process

Logoworks offers 3 levels of logo design packages: Silver, Gold and Platinum. As you go up each level, you get more logo designs to choose from, more designers involved, and more rounds of revisions you can request to the design. Logoworks also offers additional services, such as corporate identity packages and website design services. But for our purposes here I’ll focus just on the logo design services.

One of the features I liked is that they make it easy to get started at low risk. There’s a $99-down option, whereby you can get an initial set of logo design concepts created. Then you have 3 business days to review them. You can pull out of the process at that point if you’re not satisfied, and have no further obligation beyond $99. If, however, you decide to continue, then you’re charged for the remainder of the price of whichever package you chose. Prices range from $249 to $549 for logo packages.

I started by going to the Logoworks website and clicking on the gold and blue $99 box. If you prefer to speak with someone by phone, there is a toll-free number prominently listed. I did not use the phone, opting instead to do everything online. That way I could take my time and do it in the evening (which is when I tend to tackle projects like this because there’s never enough time during the day).

A Service Behind the Website

Your experience with the logo design process will be more satisfactory if you remember that you are getting a service performed by human beings. You are not going to be using a tool to design a logo by yourself. Rather, you go to the website and order everything online as I did, but there are real live designers behind the scenes.

A key part of the process involves completing an online questionnaire that Logoworks calls a creative brief. You’re asked a series of questions about your preferences and your goals with the logo. For instance, you’re asked if you have colors that you like — and colors that you absolutely do NOT want to use in the logo.

You’re asked if you want to use a graphic and text, or just graphic alone. You can also choose layout options for how the logo and text will appear, or leave it up to the designers to choose (that’s what I did):

Logoworks process screenshot 1

You’re also asked for your preferences as to style. You’re asked whether you prefer traditional, luxury, casual, contemporary, youthful or other traits to best define your company’s logo. What I especially like is that they prompt you with examples of famous logos. Each trait is further defined in a little blue comment box when you mouse over it:

Logoworks process screenshot 2

You can also give brief instructions to the designers. For instance, you can direct them to look at a certain website or an existing logo. That may provide helpful input.

In essence you are doing two things when you complete the creative brief: (1) clarifying your strategic thinking about your brand, and (2) communicating your ideas to the designers. So it’s important to spend time to think things through.

In my case, the colors for my other businesses and websites center around black, white and red. I wanted to stick with common color themes. So red, black and white were my choices, with blue as an accent color. Colors that I absolutely did not want in the new logo were orange or brown, so I noted that as well.

I started the process on a weekend. By the following Thursday I got an email notifying me that eight designs were ready for review. I was able to log on to my online control panel at Logoworks and view all the design concepts.

The Revision Process

Most people are not going to be immediately satisfied on the first go-around. If you are like me, you will want to narrow it down to one design concept, give feedback to the designer about how to tweak and adjust that concept, and have at least one more round of revisions — maybe more — until it is what you want.

That is the point where I am at currently. I want to narrow down the concepts to a single choice, and give the designer feedback to come up with some additional revisions to improve and refine one of the designs.

And at this point, I’d like to open it up to you to weigh in and help. I picked 3 out of the 8 designs as being possibilities. I’d like to know what you think. Here are the three best logo concepts so far:

Logo concept 1

Logo concept 2

Logo concept 3

Two Questions For You

(1) Which one of the above 3 concepts do you like best?

(2) How would you tweak your top choice to make it better?

Please share your opinions by leaving comments below.

UPDATE APRIL 11, 2008: A HUGE thanks to everyone who gave input. It was invaluable. Please proceed to Part 2 of this series to follow the next step in the logo design process.

44 Comments ▼

Anita Campbell - CEO


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

44 Reactions

  1. Anita,

    It will be interesting to follow the process of the new logotype. For the time being, I like composition #1 the best. It is simple and clear cut. The only thing is if you want to include the URL in the logo, then you have to pick number 2 or 3 instead.

    Talking about how to develop a new image, you are welcome to follow the process of creating a new banner for my personal EGO blog. Click on my name and read about John Cox’s work with EGO banner.

  2. Anita,

    I’m in favor of #1. The shadow of the paper clip is a unique touch. Unfortunate that is doesn’t have the .com. Also, you may find that the relative size of the clip makes the logo more challenging to use in a variety of placements and projects. You might want to also work up an abreviated companion version with the clip sideways, over or under the name, that will allow more flexibility.

    #2 looks like a military contractor’s logo and #3 looks too casual, like a daycare or massage therapist.

  3. I like the second choice.

    Maybe I’d try without caps.

    Good luck

  4. Number one, using number one’s font choice but number two’s text choice. Ie, SellingtoSmallBusinesses.com.

    I’m not entirely sure the sub-title is necessary. Isn’t selling to small businesses not self explanatory? (Or at least it should read How to Sell to Owners of Small Businesses.)

    Maybe changing the sub-title to a tag line which doesn’t reiterate the name of the business; ‘how to compete big in the small world’, ‘how to engage niche markets’, etc.

  5. Neal O'Sullivan

    Anita, go with logo number one with the following caveate. “Hang” the .com above the tag-line as you did in logo option 3. Option number two illustrates “X” marks the spot. Not compelling. Choice three illustrates “hand-holding”…boring and not compelling. A relay-race hand-off would be a superior alternative.

    Option one speaks to business solutions. Go with this alternative

  6. I like number one for several reasons. It’s very simple, and I think it’s the only one where the graphic fits the theme of the site. I prefer the font from number one as well.

    A couple of things I would change. I think I would left-justify the tag line, and then add the small .com from number two underneath and right-justified. Keep the .com black, with the same font as the site name but the font size of the tag line, so it balances out.

    Also, I would agree with Jill that the current tag line is redundant with the name of the site. I like the look with one, but I would change it to something different, that pulls you into the site.

  7. Er, make that the small .com from number three. Whoops!

  8. It’s great to actually be able to see how logoworks works. I may have to consider trying this out. I was under the impression that a computer program does all the work and not an actual person. Thank you for taking the time to show us the process.

    I must be alone, but I like option #2. It’s simple and professional without being overdone. Please do not pick #3, it’s aweful. I agree with others that it seems too juvenile. #1 is nice but I feel the paper clip may be over used, the graphic in #2 is more unique.

  9. Michelle Riggen-Ransom

    Hi Anita – I like number one as well. Very hip! Agree with comments that you need the .com on there and that tagline is redundant. And actually, the paper clip has been used quite a bit. Maybe a different icon (but keep the red)? Or just the text treatment works, too. Nice font, nice colors.

    Logo design is actually very difficult. We let folks vote on ours as well (see rejects here). It’s so helpful to get feedback and fun, too for your readers to get to weigh in.

    Good luck with the re-design, looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with!

  10. Hi Anita,

    #2 is my first choice. Then #1.

    I’d put the .com of #2 underneath, so that the words are not so long. What about making some of the words different colors? Be easier to read. I agree with others to dump the tagline. It doesn’t add anything. Thanx for including your readers in this process!!!!

    Michelle

  11. hello for all those people looking for websites and graphic artist pls go to http://www.designastore.com and post your work there it is free and in minutes you will have bids on the work and for good price the best thing is the artist doesnt get paid untill your work is complete and you are satisfied

  12. I like number two and, frankly, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. Caught my eye and looks very professional. And I think that red/white/black always makes a bold statement, too.

  13. Logos are more than just looks. Logos are to businesses, what clothes are to people – image. Therefore, when creating a logo, the image you want to personify is second of two big questions. The first question is, who is your audience? If you’re targeting a lower spending demographic, you don’t convey a pricey image and visa versa.

    My choice is composition try placing the tagline as headline. I would also play with the locations of all three objects. I would try different fonts and colors/gray tones. Font selection is key to persona.

    I am in the midst of the same project: http://www.SalesDuJour.com

  14. I like all of them but number 3 is catchy. The people make you feel like there’s some “action” taking place – things are moving and shaking – going places!

  15. Go for number 1, Anita! It is hip and modern and looks like a business logo. Number 3 looks like it should be for a nonprofit instead of a business.

    I’d make number 1 look more Web 2.0, bigger and bolder Put the dot com in red underneath in place of the tag line.

  16. Anita,

    I don’t think any of of the designs create a family feel with your main site logo. I would want to see a logo that is part of the small business trends family. If this is not an issue please ignore the comment. My other comments are that the first logo actually changes the site’s name and the paper clip is old fashioned.

    The other 2 are harder to read and not as clean as the first one. If I had to choose one I would work with the first one, get another visual, see how it works with the original site name (unless you are changing it) and I could be wrong but it seems to be a different font to small business trends. If it is then I would like to see versions in the same font or family of fonts in different colour eg. red.

    Although it is probably confidential it would be interesting to know what the logo is trying to communicate.

    Best of luck
    Susan

  17. Anita, Have to agree with Chris. Simplicity, but yet Bold—I like that! No. 2 is the one.

  18. I would start at the third choice. I like the companion graphic and how the .com is complementary to the title instead of part of it. Then I would switch out the title text to the style of the first example. I would shrink the companion graphic to 75% of the current size though.

    Normally I would agree the tagline is redundant, but I think it adds balance to the overall logo.

    In any case, good luck on choosing and implementing the new logo.

  19. I like the first choice because it is clean and modern. I have seen the paper clip used in other logos but that doesn’t bother me. I agree with Neal that it speaks to business solutions and the others don’t. The third one is really off base if you ask me.

  20. Like most people here, I like the first one. Just make the paper clip smaller because it’s stealing the vision.

    What I’d do is make it look like that the text is printed on paper and a small paper clip is holding it on a card board. I hope you get what I mean.

    Good luck on your redesign! More power.

  21. Hi,

    We would like to know if you could write a blog review for our website brochuremonster.com on your blog smallbiztrends.com.

    If yes, please let us know your rates. We are ready to offer free product samples for testing if required.

    Best Regards,
    John Davis

  22. Anita Campbell

    Hi John Davis, We do NOT do paid reviews of products or services or companies.

    However, we often do reviews of resources we think small businesses will find valuable. And the best part — we will not charge anything to do the review.

    Just email our Tips line: sbtips@gmail.com

    Just point out a couple of site features you are proud of in the email. Call our attention to them.

    Best,
    Anita

  23. Before I began writing a blog for small manufacturing companies (http://www.allbusiness.com/economy-economic-indicators/economic-indicators/7067894-1.html) I ran an ad agency for quite a few years, and had occasion to supervise the design of many logos, some for large multinational corporations, some for start-ups with only a few employees.
    Choosing a logo can be a difficult, time-consuming and emotional process, and it’s made more difficult because there is a high degree of subjectivity involved. In addition, having a new logo can be expensive. It’s not just the cost of the design. It’s reprinting envelopes, repainting trucks, changing the sign in front of your building, etc.
    My advice to small business owners is to evaluate very carefully whether or not you really need a new logo. Perhaps the money could be better spent on market research, new sales presentation materials or some other project that will bring money in the door.
    Mike Stevens
    Manufacturing Editor,
    AllBusiness

  24. My recommendation would be to simplify the logo a little more. Out of these three, I like the icon out of Comp2 & Comp3. However, with the tagline and the whole domain name, it looks very busy and very difficult to read. Ideally you want the customer to look at your logo for 3 seconds and be able to remember you.

    I would personally choose Comp3 because it has potential. The icon gets the idea of helping someone out. However, with a name like “SellingToSmallBusinesses.com” you will need to work with the type face to really get something effective. I might even suggest getting rid of the icon all together and working on a typeface logo. (take Geico, Google, or Amazon for example).

    In Comp3 you’ve started to work with the typface. Perhaps you can use peices of that icon and start playing with the letters/colors to bring out the different peices of your name.

  25. Anita Campbell

    Hi Mike, many thanks for commenting — and also for your email input. 🙂

    Let me add some food for thought about logo costs: for many small businesses the costs of re-doing a logo are tiny in the overall scheme of things.

    I can definitely see your point. But, like millions of other small businesses, I don’t have any trucks or big signs to repaint. Mainly I have a website, some online profiles, an email signature block, business cards, and some documents. And most documents I print in-house or at the local printer in small quantities of 100 to 500 at a time. Even letterhead I now print in-house on 25% cotton stock — I don’t write that many letters, so it’s cheaper and easier.

    The potential benefit from having a polished look outweighs any small cost concerns for me. I’ve learned from this website how a professional look makes all the difference in how others perceive you. After all, my websites are among my main places of business. I want any websites to look as good as I would want my offices or my retail store to look. To me it’s the equivalent of buying new chairs or painting the place.

    Anita

  26. Anita,

    “The potential benefit from having a polished look outweighs any small cost concerns for me.”

    Absolutely! Spend the time to get the look you want.

    A good method is making is looking at and making use of existing styles. Much like decorating.

    Have fun 🙂

  27. I like the first one. I agree with the other comment that the tagline is unnecessary. Or, perhaps think of a tagline that has more punch. I do think #1 needs .com somewhere. I’m not sure how I feel about hanging it above.

  28. Ivana Taylor

    I just paid over $800 for a new logo — and boy do I wish I had used Logoworks! From what you’ve done so far, it looks like you’ve gotten a lot of value. It looks like LogoWorks has really distilled the thought process behind the design process. Like other commenters have said – they key to a great logo is YOU knowing what you’re all about.

    I like desgin number 1. I agree with the comments that the tagline is reduntant, I’d suggest something like: Tips, Tricks and Tools for Small Business Owners, or Clips, Tips and Tools for Busy Business Owners.

    (probably a little too silly sounding) but the point I was getting at was having the tagline communicate the benefit or value that the logo and your site represents.

  29. Anita,

    I hope your logo design is progressing well and that you’re having fun.

    We are completing a logo & banner design project for a new sales training site. We throw variations on a page until we reach a conclusion. Using this process, we began with a color concept, hunted for a font, and then played with some styling. We’ve settled on the bottom one and will now clean it up, and downsize it.

    I though you might like looking at our process, in the last stage, and wouldn’t mind your opinion(s). http://www.salesdujour.com/logo-test.html

    Opinions are similar to belly buttons; everybody has at least one.

  30. As in a good brand name, a good logo should be reflective or symbolic of the value received by your customers. According to small business owners, the expertise of the service provider is expected. What they look for is how much can they trust the (service provider) people to deliver. It often is about the people/relationship/trust. Of the 3 logo samples above, composition 3 appears to be the most reflective of that value.

    What do you think about keeping the imagery concept of #3 but selecting an easier to read font and presentation?

    BringBuyers
    Affordable Search Engine Marketing

  31. Sorry, but I don’t like any of them. They all look cheap. That is exactly what you
    get from services like this. This is why we have professional graphic designers
    with degrees from accredited art schools and years of experience. If you want a
    $99 dollar logo then you’ll look like a $99 dollar company. Again, my opinion.
    Push them at least to try three more for your benefit.

  32. events connection

    i am looking good compny logo for the fucther

  33. Personally, as a profession in the design world, i would never recommend Logo Works. They scam off of other copyrighted logos to the point that the similiarities are very very close. NO guarantee that one’s logo from them might infringe on another companies identity.

    And its a shame they undercut in cost ($100 for a logo!) and the time it takes to actually do an original identity. Taking work from freelance designers that have to put food on the table, by misleading the general business public as what really is when it comes to branding work.

    Need a new logo, try a real professional designer! Not unfortunate underpaid, overworked, just-out-of-school so called designers at Logo Works. Also, please if you have no design training, don’t do it yourself or have your nephew who can draw do it for $50 or free, just because you don’t want to invest in your business.

  34. Anita Campbell

    Thanks, Will, for your comments. Let me clarify a few things as I don’t want anyone to have the wrong impression:

    (1) the logo cost is $399 (they were running a special so I got it for $349) — not $100

    (2) I would strongly suggest that no experienced, independent professional try to compete on price. Instead, I would EXPECT an experienced independent professional to emphasize the creativity and personal attention, and charge accordingly (charge more $$). If that professional did not charge more dollars than Logoworks, I would question how good he or she was.

    (3) For my purposes, LogoWorks more than exceeded my expectations. If my demands for a logo were more exacting, I might have spent more and hired an independent professional. But I did not need that kind of result for this project. I’m ecstatic that Logoworks met my needs.

    (4) As far as violating copyrights, you’d have to defend that statement. Regarding the Logoworks employees, consider that working at Logoworks may be a good career path for younger, less experienced designers who are looking for benefits and a secure job while they are learning and honing their craft and art. “One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor.”

  35. As a former inside salesman at Logoworks and graphic design company owner, I found this article and the comments to be extremely interesting and valuable. First of all, I’m glad to see that management decided to make some of the changes I recommended in their creative brief questionaires. Recently, I spoke with one of the top marketing agencies in my area, and he suggested that when a professional branding company creates a logo, the client isn’t choosing what colors, styles, etc. they like. How is a plumber supposed to know branding and image like a trained professional in that field? Nevertheless, for startup companies on tight budgets, Logoworks is a good choice, in my opinion. In fact, I recently started an online logo design printing business for logo design companies like Logoworks to send their clients who want to benefit from wholesale printing prices. The link is http://logodesign-printing.com

  36. Congratulations for the great blog dude… Btw, have you tried this for logo creation?

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