As you embark on your new agency, or are looking to grow your existing agency, you will wonder what every other small business does when it comes to marketing; “Where do I start?”
Well, there are some basics, like deciding on your business name and the demographic you want to sell to. But then there are some actionable steps you should take to build your brand, because a strong brand means strong client relationships. This first step is creating a logo for your agency.
A logo is paramount if you want to create brand recognition with your clients; you need something for them to recognize! It is important to create a visual association with your agency and all that it embodies. This will set the tone for all of your marketing and promotion going forward. Not to mention, a logo adds a level of professionalism and legitimacy, which is important when clients are trusting you with their money, and with something even more valuable, their vacation time.
Option 1: Hire a graphic designer.
You want a professional logo, the problem is, you probably aren’t a graphic designer, right? Well, me neither! Luckily, there are tens of thousands of very talented graphic designers out there looking for work.
My top choice is 99 Designs (https://99designs.com). This is probably the most well-know graphic design freelancing site out there. These freelancers can create much more than a logo, but for our purposes, we’ll discuss their logo offerings.
I think the most effective way to have your logo created is by running a design contest through 99 Designs. This is best for people who don’t really know exactly what they want yet. With the contest method, a simple logo design starts at $299. With this package you can expect about 30 designers to respond to your contest and submit ideas. There are also packages that are $499, $799, and $1299. Obviously as the price goes up the amount of designers and quality of the designers will go up, so you will have to decide how much you are willing to pay for a great logo. But remember, this is a one-time investment that you will benefit from for years; so don’t just think about the short-term cost.
One thing to keep in mind is the price of stock images. In many cases a designer will use images that are subject to copy write laws, and therefore have to be bought in order for you to use them. When you start the design you will need to specify whether or not the designer can use stock images, and if so, it is highly recommended you give them a budget for this, as you will have to pay for the image in addition to the package you chose. Because most logos don’t include pictures, this likely won’t be an issue, but just in case, I recommend allowing a $20 budget for stock elements.
You start your contest by filling out a questionnaire, which they call a brief, to give the designers some idea of your business and what you are looking for. All the designers in their network can see the contest and those who are interested in participating will submit their logo designs. This “qualifying round” takes about four days. In that four days you can see the logos, provide feedback on what you like and don’t like, and then at the end of four days (or anytime during) you select up to six finalists. Keep in mind, that up until this point you can back out and get your money back, but once you select up to six finalists, you are now committed to the contest and your money (which is the prize to the designer) is locked in. You then have three days to communicate back and forth with you finalists to try and get their versions perfect. Once this stage ends you have up to two weeks to select your winner and that designer will provide all your logo assets within five days. BOOM! You have a professionally designed logo.
The great things is, that once you have your logo created you now have an established relationship with a designer and you can use them for future projects if necessary.
Option 2: Computer Generated Logo
A cheaper option is to use a service called Tailor Brands (https://www.tailorbrands.com)
This website automates a logo for you based on questions that you answer. So, you aren’t working with a designer but rather a computer program. You start by entering your company name, choosing your industry, and then writing a short “about you” section (which they presumably pull key words from). You are then given some design styles to choose from to judge your preferences. You will also go through a series of “this or that,” choosing which fonts you like compared to others (take note, there is a button you can choose that says you don’t like either). At this point, they will generate some logos based off your preferences but you will need to register with the website to see them fully. Choose the one you like best and then you can customize it with different fonts, colors, size, etc. to make it just right.
Once you have a logo you are happy with you just need to download it. The pricing is little screwy, so I’ll explain as best I can. You can’t just purchase the logo one time, you have to purchase a subscription (which you can then cancel). The point of the subscription is that you can get other things made to go with your brand package, like business cards, for as long as you are subscribed. You can also only download your logo to your computer for as long as you are subscribed, so make sure you download your logo onto your computer before you unsubscribe.
For the basic subscription, where you basically just get a .png logo you can either pay $9.99 per month (and remember to cancel as soon as you like) or pay $2.99 per month for 12 months, but billed all at once (so $35.88) and have a year-long subscription. However, I would recommend getting the premium option so that you can get a vector file of your logo. You will need this if you ever have a designer create an advertising piece for you, or if you need to get anything other than a simple flyer printed. This is $49.99 per month (and remember to cancel as soon as you like) or $10.99 per month for 12 months, billed all at once (so $131.88). This is obviously a cheaper option than working with a real designer, but the results are not going to be as tailored to your brand.
Option 3: Make Your Own
Using a popular “drag and drop” design website called Canva (https://www.canva.com/create/logos/), you can use their templates to create your own logo. This is an almost free way to create a logo, though some elements are $1 each. I use Canva extensively to create advertising materials and I highly recommend you learn how to use it. It is free to use but there is also a paid plan called Canva for Work, which is $8.99 a month. Upgrading allows you store your brand colors, logos, and typography, as well as some additional features within Canva. You can select from many pre-made logos and customize it to your brand by changing the colors, the font, using a different icon, etc. Take some time to play with the controls and discover how you can move things around on the page, enlarge them, change the colors (hit the + button in the color menu to see more than just basic colors), change the fonts, and search for icons (type what you want in the search bar and then select “illustrations” just below to see only see illustrations). When you are ready to download your logo, you can download it as a JPEG, which will show a white background behind your logo. Or, you can choose a more useful file type, a PNG. A .png file will show your logo with a transparent background so nothing shows behind it. It is essentially a “cut out” of your logo. Make sure to check the box that says “Transparent Background” when you go to download your PNG. You can also download a PDF, but there isn’t much need for this with a logo. These are the only files you will be able to get, so no vector files are available to use for printing or utilizing a designer for future needs.
You now have 3 options for creating a logo, and no more excuses for not having one. I highly recommend going with option 1 and hiring a professional designer to create your logo. It will look the most professional, you’ll have the vector files you will likely need at some point down the road, and you will get to customize your logo to really embody your brand. I know it is tempting to go with the lesser quality free versions, but the reality is, if you can’t afford to invest a basic amount in marketing in order to grow your business, you probably aren’t ready to be in business. Paying for a professional logo is a small initial investment that will benefit the long-term future of your business.