Branding is one of the most important things you can do when developing a company or a website. A logo is, after all, a representation of what your website stands for. Think of McDonald’s and its golden arches, the Coca-Cola label, the Nike swoosh, the BMW roundel, or the three-pointed star of Mercedes-Benz. These logos are instantly recognizable by the majority of the population and, once recognized, produce a variety of feelings that help people to connect with the brand. Logos are so important, in fact, that companies spend thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on professional design. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend nearly that much to get a great logo. You can even get a logo for free if you work hard enough. Here are a few tips about how to get a great logo for very little money.
Do It Yourself
Creating a logo yourself is easier than ever before thanks to a plethora of free graphics programs and the likes of Photoshop. Creating the logo is probably easier than coming up with the concept in the first place. To come up with a good concept, you need to first consider what type of logo you want. To get a good idea of what type of logo will be right for your website, look at what other sites in your niche are using. You want to differentiate yourself from those others, so think about ways to really stand out from the crowd. Once you’ve done that, think about the message you want your logo to send. Should it be lighthearted, serious, or mysterious? Also, try to think about how your website name can be played on in a design. Finally, think about which of the three types of logo would best suit your website’s personality: font-based, illustrative, and abstract.
Font-based logos consist of type (text) that has been made distinctive and unique. Examples of font-based logos include those for IBM, Sony, and Microsoft. An illustrative logo is one that shows what a company does. A good example of an illustrative logo would be an anthropomorphic plunger advertising a plumber’s services. An abstract logo is one that has no inherent meaning, but becomes associated with the brand through careful marketing. Famous abstract logos include the Nike swoosh, the Apple icon, and the Playboy bunny. Note that while abstract logos are the easiest to design (in most cases), they are also the most difficult to market as it takes time to associate the logo with your brand and building meaning around it.
When you have some ideas for a design, start drafting options. As general rules, keep the logo as simple and clean as possible. Simple logos transfer better between media (print, digital, etc.) and are less expensive to produce on things like business cards and stationary. Never use clip art in your logo, always go with something original and avoid anything trendy. Trendy logos age quickly and can alienate existing customers if they are a radical change to an existing logo. If you do decide to “update” an existing logo, do it slowly over months or years. Quaker Oats, for instance, modified its logo over a period of 10 years to avoid undermining customer confidence in the brand. That’s how important logos are.
Hire a Freelancer
Freelance artists can take your basic ideas for a logo and turn them into something beautiful and compelling at a price that is far below what design companies charge. Look for a freelancer with an education in graphic arts, a record of producing quality designs, and who is easy to work with. Building a logo with a team, even if it is only a team of two, is a give and take situation that can actually help you produce a better design than if you go it alone. The great thing about hiring another person to help with your logo is that he or she can give valuable feedback about your ideas, color and font choices, and the impact the logo has emotionally and intellectually. Think of it as getting an artist and a focus group all in one. The most popular place for cheap website logo’s right now is probably Fiverr.com where you can get high quality logos created for just 5 bucks.
Try a Contest
If you are scratching your head for logo ideas, then maybe you can create a design contest and pick the logo that best suits your needs. There are even websites, like 99 Designs, where you submit a request and a large community of designers will create multiple logos for you. You only pay for the logo that wins the contest, so it’s a lot like soliciting bids for a project or asking several ad agencies to come up with ideas for you. The only difference is that the whole process is a lot cheaper than hiring a Madison Avenue firm.
Hire a Student
Many graphic arts students are looking to build portfolios. They need experience if they want to get hired at a marketing or design company and you can provide that experience by having them design a logo for you. The only catches here are that you have to be willing to let them use your logo in their portfolio (a major plus for advertising in many cases as the student will show your logo around) and you have to be willing to work closely with the student and the school the student attends in most cases. You’ll also need to be willing to act as a reference for the student, which can be another plus as it may put you into contact with advertising firms, website owners, etc. Hiring a student usually results in the design process taking longer, but it may be well worth the investment in many cases. Besides the low cost, helping out a student ought to make you feel pretty good and is a nice way to contribute to another person’s success.
Even if you aren’t creative with designs and logos, you can be creative with how you outsource and pay for the task of designing the moniker that will brand your website. Whatever route you choose in the end, keep in mind that ultimate veto power rests with you. It is better to kill a logo, even if you have invested months of time into it, than to brand your website with an icon that just isn’t right. A good logo can make your brand and a bad logo can damage it, so be prudent and don’t be afraid to get input from friends, family, clients, and focus groups.