Creating a new custom logo is an exciting project, full of colorful swatches, font samples, and brainstorming sessions with your designer or brand strategist. You’ve found an incredible caligraphy font with custom glyphs, you had an artist create a gorgeous watercolor background that uses your brand colors, and there is even a gold-effect icon for social media avatars! It’s unique, eye-catching, and sooooo pretty! But before you sign off on that shiny new logo, let’s take a step back and ask some really important questions. If you do, you may save yourself time, money and frustration in the future.
Does my logo work in just one color, or black and white?
Most designers will already have addressed this important question, and taken into account times when you might need to use a one-color or black and white logo. You should have received examples of these options in your logo presentation. But maybe you created your own logo, or a friend did, and this may have been a step you forgot. If so, go ahead and explore this now. Because I guarantee there will be a time when you need to use a simplified version of your logo design: that amazing free offer from the local lifestyle magazine who wants to include you in their business listings page, but it HAS to be black and white. The chance to include your name as a supporter on the event t-shirts for that charity walk-a-thon – but it can only be in one color because that is all they can afford to print. Some version of this scenario WILL come up, so plan for it now in case you need to make revisions to your design. If you test it in a single color, does it still convey your brand? Is it legible? What about in black on white, or in white on black? A good logo design will stand up well to all these treatments.
How many total colors are in my custom logo design?
It’s not uncommon in this day of digital design to trend towards full-color logos. Most of the focus on logo design today is geared to the computer screen. Web images, email headers, social media profiles, blog posts – these are the places you use your logo the most. But be aware of how else you might use your logo, and how the use of multiple colors or a full four-color process image can have an effect on the results. Will you be creating any products with your logo? Think: marketing/promotional products for a tradeshow or conference, client thank you gifts, custom logo t-shirts or corporate apparel for you or your employees, retail products for sale with your brand logo on them – the list goes on and on. Even if you are a service based, online only business – stop for a minute and explore this question because when and if the time comes that you DO want to reproduce your logo on a product, you don’t want multiple colors or hard-to-replicate colors becoming an obstacle. Certain decorating techniques require extra costs for multi color designs, so bear that in mind and choose wisely, without sacrificing the quality or originality of your logo! The money saved can often mean the difference between being able to afford a beautiful custom printed product, and not.
Is my custom logo adaptable?
Just like too many colors can run up costs, a uniquely complex logo can be difficult to reproduce using some custom decorating technologies. Depending on the product that needs to be customized, possibilities for decoration are many: screen printing, direct printing, pad printing, embroidery, specialty apparel films and vinyls, laser engraving, sand etching and more! As someone who deals with these processes every day, I am here to tell you that not every logo works with every technique – far from it. And that’s okay, but it is something you need to be aware of and something that your designer may not be thinking about. If you know of specific custom products that you will be making in the future, now is the time to address this. If you don’t know of any products – well, take a minute to think about it just in case! That watercolor background, calligraphy font, or gold-effect icon may not be easy to reproduce, creating obstacles down the road. I think the best advice I can give here is keep elements clear and distinct, don’t rely too heavily on unusual textures, half tones, or complex backgrounds. Simpler is always easier when it comes time to reproduce a logo!
Can my logo be easily comprehended from a distance?
This may seem like a really odd question. But hear me out! How many times have you been driving to the grocery store, and noticed those temporary yard signs advertising some service, sport group, or festival? Now, have you noticed how many of those are impossible to read?? Here’s another example – across the parking lot from my gym, they are building a new grocery store. There are two big signs hanging on one end of the building. Starbucks is one, but the other one none of us can make out from our window because it’s just not legible from a distance! One last example that might hit closer to home: what about that sponsorship logo we talked about on an event T-shirt for the local charity walk? Can people read your logo easily, or will they have to be right up in someone’s personal space in order to decipher the name of you business? Who wants that?! So – print your logo out on your laser printer, tape it to the wall in your office, and then walk out the door. When you turn back, can you still make out what is on that piece of paper? If not, maybe you should consider something more easily recognized.
Can my logo be made into a vector file?
Um, what’s a “vector file”, you say? No worries. Ask your designer – this is something they should have a handle on. But in the meantime, there are two basic groups of electronic image files – raster and vector. Raster images are like photographs. They are also called “bitmap” images, and their file formats are typically JPEGs, GIFs, PNGs, or TIFFs. These images are made up basically of dots of color to create the picture. (Zoom way in on those photos and see them turn into individual pixels and you will get the idea.) Vector files are completely different. They are more typically “graphic” in style and are made up of mathematical paths, curves, and points. Think EPS files, Illustrator (AI) files, PDFs and SVGs.
So, uh…why do we care about this again? Glad you asked. The thing is, vector files can be infinitely scaled, while raster files cannot. So let’s say you need a banner made for a booth, or a big event. And now let’s say you only have a raster image as your logo file. And let’s further say that the max resolution on that baby only lets you scale it up to oh, 8″x10″, and you banner is SIX FEET WIDE! Do you see the problem? “Can’t I just convert my raster-whatever into one of those vector things?” you ask. Well, not exactly. More precisely – not always, and not easily, even when it is possible. Certain styles of graphic elements can be vectorized – converted to a vector image. This typically involves some software conversion but almost always needs hands-on editing by someone well versed in vector software like Adobe Illustrator. So, you will be adding time and money to the project in order to get the file you need. But some logos simply don’t translate well into a vector format at all – and then what? Elements of the logo will have to be removed (remember our watercolor background? Gone.) Fonts may need to be altered (how about that wispy calligraphy font with the semi-transparent look? Gone, probably.) And any photographic elements – maybe there is a scan of a piece of your artwork, or a snippet of a photo – that either has to be turned into line art, or you guessed it: Gone. So, I hope you can begin to see the relationship between the actual format of your logo and how it can be used when applied to all kinds of custom products down the road. Think about this question now and if your logo is at risk, ask your designer to provide vector based alternatives that you can fall back on.
Is my custom logo my own property?
Let’s wrap it up.
So here are your 6 vital questions to ask about your logo in a nutshell:
- Does it work in a single color, or black and white?
- What is the number of colors in my logo and will that pose any extra printing costs down the road?
- Is my logo adaptable to a variety of decorating techniques for custom promotional products or apparel?
- Can my logo be easily read from a distance, or is it difficult to comprehend?
- Is my logo a scalable vector file? If not, can an alternate version be created in case I need it?
- Do I have clear license to use my logo and all the fonts and elements that make it up?
If your logo passes most or all of these check points, then pat yourself and your designer on the back for a job well done! You have created a logo that will easily serve you well for many years to come, without imposing unnecessary expenses or obstacles in the future! If you have questions about how to reproduce logos onto any custom products or custom apparel, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are always here to help make your business Stand Out!