Last week in my Biz Tips and Branding for Artists column we talked about branding 101. If you’ll recall, we discussed that branding is a series of words and images put together to evoke a feeling, and when more than one person has that feeling, you have a brand.

This week we’re looking at one of the primary fundamentals of branding for artists: the logo.

Everyone has done the “guess this logo” test, yes? The one where someone uses the McDonald’s font to write an unrelated word, but you can still tell it’s McDonald’s because you have a mental imprint of what their branding is?

Well, as sad as it is that we know what McDonald’s looks like in any language, that’s very effective branding.

Of course, what this means is that you definitely need a logo.

What is not a given is that it will cost you thousands of dollars to have one designed. (Okay, sure, it can but it doesn’t have to.)

Over the years, logos have developed to have a number of types. Those types are:

Iconic (just an image)

Logotype/Wordmark (text based)

Combination Marks (words and an image)

Most companies have either an icon and a combination mark. There are benefits to developing both in tandem, since it may be appropriate to use one on your website and business cards, but another on your promotional material.

Here are a few guidelines you should follow when creating a logo:

  • Your logo can be as complex or as simple as you want but it always needs to appropriately represent you and your brand.
  • If you are planning to have an icon make sure the image is bold, easy to understand, easy to reproduce and balanced.
  • If you are planning to have a wordmark make sure the font is easy to reproduce and, most importantly, easy to read.
  • Give your potential logo the “glance” test. If you just glance over at it, what do you see? Can you tell what the name of your business is? Do you understand the image you’re looking at?
  • Make sure that the imagery suits the look and feel of you or your company. Don’t go super modern if you sing classic country music. You’re likely to confuse people.
  • Always test your logo in black and white as well as colour. If it loses too much when the colour is removed, you will want to tweak it a little.
  • If you’re looking for a professional to create a logo for you, make sure they’re on the same page as you. Check their previous work and ask for references.
  • Before you unleash it on the world and print it on everything, ask a selected group of people what they think. This should include your mom, your best friend, a guy you happen to know who’s got a good eye and a person you have never met in a coffee shop. Take what they say to heart (even you mom) and make changes if you think they’re needed.

Remember that the image or wordmark that represents you doesn’t have to be complex or flashy, but it does need to feel right to you.

Come back next week when I will be looking at will be showing you just how easy creating a logo can be using free tools available to anyone.