Tips from the Professionals for Creating Your First Logo — Without Spending a Fortune

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Your logo, along with your company name, combine to create an image that effectively represents your company. Think of a time when you visited a medical or professional office. The first person you came in contact with was the receptionist. What impression did he or she exhibit? Professional? Overworked? Interested? Sloppy?

You most likely made some assumptions about the company based on that first impression. Your logo acts in the same way as the first impression prospects have about your business.

Your logo needs to cut through the clutter of competition and be memorable in your target prospect’s eyes. Like selecting your company name, creating a logo that represents your brand while at the same time being affordable, is a challenging prospect. However, it isn’t impossible.


“A company logo is a symbol that will become known for the value a business owner attaches to it; great service, engaging marketing, and a remarkable product, not the other way around,” says Rob Marsh, Vice President, Operations & Design Fulfillment, Logoworks. “The key is to keep the logo simple.”

Let’s get started with five key elements to keep in mind when creating your corporate logo.


The first four elements of creating your logo relate to the design process:

1. Color. In David Airey’s article What Makes a Great Logo, he references four critical elements to a successful logo. It must be:

  • describable
  • memorable
  • effective without color
  • scalable, i.e. effective when just an inch in size

David Airey logo design examples

Rather than starting by selecting a color, David recommends beginning your design in black and white. In reality, as a small business owner, you will need to print some materials in black and white from a cost saving measure. If your logo relies on a color or a series of colors to effectively communicate your brand, then expect to pay more with every use.

Whether, you start with black or start with a color, ultimately you’ll want to select a color that represents your brand. Different colors provide subliminal messages and in some cases, one color can be more expensive to print than another.

You may also consider using shades of your selected color. In this manner you can print a marketing flyer using your logo and corporate color in a variety of intensities to give the impression of multiple colors when in fact you are using only one color. Keep in mind, however, that some colors, when using a lighter intensity, create a shade that may not be reflective of your brand image. Red, for example, becomes pink when using a lighter version.

What does your color say about your business? Just for fun, consider taking a Power Color quiz. Power color quizEach color has its own meaning:

Red: energy, power, war, blood

Orange: enthusiasm, creativity

Yellow: sunshine, happiness

Blue: depth, trust, loyalty

Green: growth, harmony, freshness

Purple: royalty, luxury

Black: power, elegance, death

White: goodness, innocence, light

Review a complete definition of the entire color wheel.

In the end, the more colors incorporated into your logo design, the more expensive it will be if your marketing material is printed at an off-site print house.

When it comes to printing your new logo, consider HP’s Officejet Pro L7000 Series, designed to meet the needs of a small business owner offering: affordability; efficiency; quality; productivity; and time saving.

“The biggest appeal of printing marketing materials in-house is the instant availability and low cost print runs,” says Brian Warner, North America Current Product Manager, Officejet Pro.

Printing in-house means you can print any time of the day or night; as many copies as you need. Small business owners rarely need to print the large quantities necessary to take advantage of the price breaks offered by a print house.

2. Font. Whether your company name is included in the graphic image of your logo or is situated beside or underneath the artwork, the font you select will be part of your trademark. When considering the font remember to select one that is:

  • Readable in any size
  • Reflective of your brand (formal, casual, sporty, trendy)
  • Complements the design

“Resist the urge to add unnecessary words like Inc. LLC, Corp. in your logo,” advises Marsh. “Often a small business owner will feel they’ll appear larger by adding their incorporation status to their logo design. The opposite is true. Keep the design clear of unnecessary words and images. Simple is best.”

3. Style. If your logo will represent a more traditional, formal business such as a law office or accounting firm, you’ll want to select a design that is reflective of your profession. Animated skiers racing over the letters in your company name will probably not be the image you wish to project. Consider reviewing other logo designs within your industry. Although you’ll want to create something that stands out, you may find examples of what you love or hate when reviewing your competition.

If your product will be sitting on a shelf next to your competitors, consider the following style elements that may attract your target prospect:

“When creating a corporate logo my number one recommendation is to keep it simple,” says Rob Marsh, Vice President, Operations & Design Fulfillment, Logoworks. “Many business owners try to make their logos represent everything the business does — an impossibility for just about any company. What does a swoosh have to do with athletics? What does an eye have to do with television broadcasting? What does a ball have to do with soda pop? Yet all of these ordinary symbols have been used effectively as brand images for Nike, CBS, and Pepsi.”

Brand New, a blog offering personal observations on re-branding, provides thoughts on corporate and brand identity. Each post compares a single company’s current logo with their new design. The writer offers tips and observations that provide valuable insight when considering your logo design.

You’ll also need to consider a horizontal versus a vertical design. A vertical design may look trendy on a vertical business card but keep in mind that rolodex files are set up for the more traditional horizontal design.

Horizontal designs that are extremely wide will be difficult to read when reduced down on a post card or business card. “Logos that are too long (horizontally) or too tall (vertically) may not fit well in small ads or business cards,” says Marsh. “In general, your logo should be balanced–not too tall, not too long — so that it works well in most, if not all, possible applications–brochures, billboards, business cards, apparel, signage, presentations, and so on. Having said that, there are no hard and fast rules. It really comes down to creating a logo that ‘feels’ good.”

4. Graphic Image. The KISS principal (Keep It Simple Stupid) comes into play when selecting a graphic element to accompany your company name. In some cases you may decide that an image is unnecessary, focusing instead on a stylized version of your company name.

The graphic design doesn’t have to depict your product or service, but should be something easily recognizable when connected with your company name.

Keep in mind how the image will be viewed from a distance. Consider printing out the design, taping it to your wall and then standing back a few feet. Is the image visible? Is it clear? Will passers by know what the design is when driving by your store or place of business?


The HP Officejet Pro L7000 Series, a printer that lets you print great quality at low cost, right in your officeThe fifth element to consider when designing a logo is printing.

When you think of printing your logo, you may first envision its use on a business card or stationary.

However, your logo will need to be incorporated into all aspects of your business:

  • Building signage
  • Giveaway items
  • Printed Marketing materials, i.e. product brochures, premium mailers, low-cost mass mailings, etc.
  • Operational/Internal materials, i.e. stationary, business cards, invoices and statements
  • Internet Usage, i.e. website, e-marketing

Your logo will be used in a variety of sizes, on a myriad of materials and printed using different methods. You’ll need to keep that in mind when selecting a logo design. A design that looks fantastic on a glossy business card may not translate well when embroidered on your company golf shirts. Complex designs will be difficult and costly to reproduce.

Some things to keep in mind when printing your logo:

  • All colors will appear different on the computer screen compared to paper printing. Always view the design both ways before making your final decision. Use the Pantone/PMS numbers for accurate color matching.
  • Avoid logos that bleed off the edge of the paper. Bleeding means that the ink (any portion of any ink) runs to the very edge of the finished piece. Consequently, the printer is required to print the piece oversized and then trim back to the final size. Although you may like the look, there is usually additional cost involved in printing.
  • When printing in house, be aware that using recycled toner cartridges may results in color degradation. HP’s Officejet Pro offers affordable printing solutions that deliver true color printing each time.
  • If you are printing at a print house, most will have standard PMS colors that they stock. You may wish to learn what those colors are and take those into consideration when selecting a color for your design.


Selecting the right logo to accurately represent your company can seem a daunting task. Using a service like Logoworks can take the stress out of coming up with the perfect logo.

Logoworks, an easy-to-use service to get a logo

Logoworks is a service that offers a variety of packages to meet your budget. You can select from a basic logo design or add all the bells and whistles which include designed letterhead, envelopes and business cards using your approved corporate logo.

Take a look at the Logoworks overview video. It walks you through the easy Logoworks creation process.

What do small businesses and large corporations have in common? They both require a brand identity that stands out in the consumer’s eyes.

One difference, though, between small and large companies is their budgets for creating a brand image. However, today with resources like Logoworks and HP Officejet Pro L7000 Series, which is a nifty printer, you can create a professional image that rivals your competitors.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to effectively represent your company. In fact, in-house marketing offers small business owners many benefits:

  • Save money. By creating marketing materials in-house, you eliminate the need for an advertising agency and costly printing. Check out the HP print cost calculator.
  • Save time. In-house marketing means you print what you need when YOU need it.
  • Flexibility. Only print what you need which allows for change. If your phone number, address or title changes, it is simple to reprint your marketing materials. More important, should you decide to test out a new idea, new tagline, new industry niche, you can easily design and print materials without the costs traditionally associated with creating a marketing package.
  • Control. You are in control of the entire process.

“At the end of the day, a successful logo is one that is simple, easy to read and memorable,” says Marsh. “Keep it simple and you’ll be successful.”


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Editor’s Note: Many thanks to the people at Logoworks and HP, who let me pick their brains to put this article together. — Anita Campbell


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.