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.

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.