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8 steps for developing the perfect company logo

A logo is far more than a decorative mark to spruce up a letterhead or fill space on a billboard. A logo is a symbol that allows consumers to instantly identify your business. It also calls to mind everything your business stands for in the eyes of the public.

Because a logo can make such a strong, instantaneous statement, it is well worth investing a little time and thought into creating the right one for your company. Here are eight tips from Entrepreneur for doing so:

1. Decide between font-based, abstract or literal.

Are you going to simply use your company's name with a unique type treatment? Or are you going to use a literal symbol, such as a picture of a vacuum to represent a house-cleaning business? Your third option is to use an abstract shape or symbol, but in order to make this option work, you need to be willing to invest a considerable amount of time into marketing your logo so that consumers mentally link it with your company.

2. Look at your competition.

Obviously you want to differentiate your logo from those that your competitors are using, so take some time to look around.

3. Determine the message you want to convey.

How do you want consumers to feel about your company? Do you want to emphasize your respectability and professionalism, or do you want to capitalize on your free-spirited approach and informal atmosphere? Keep your customers' expectations in mind, too. Consumers searching for a financial advisor will expect a completely different tone and feel than those searching for a tattoo artist.

4. Think about the practical applications.

What works on your business card may not work on a 10-foot-wide billboard. If you use a photograph, for instance, it may not display well at a larger or smaller resolution.

5. Think about colors.

Different colors come with different emotional connotations. Red tends to excite, while blue tends to calm. Also, printing in color is typically far more expensive than printing in black and white, so keep the cost in mind when you design a logo.

Finally, remember that colors may display differently on a computer screen than they do on paper. Ideally, you want something that will work well in color or in black and white, and something that will remain relatively consistent between print and digital mediums.

6. Convey at least one benefit of working with your business.

Your logo is a chance to illustrate your company's strengths in a visual format. If you own a delivery truck company, for instance, you may want to develop a logo that makes consumers think of speed or reliability. If you own a day care, on the other hand, you may want a logo that makes your customers think of safety, education, happy children, etc.

7. Consider hiring a professional.

In the end, it may be well worth it to invest in the services of a professional designer. If a design firm is outside your price range, you may still be able to find freelance designers who can create an effective logo for you at a lower cost.

8. Protect your new logo.

Once you have created your new logo, make sure you protect it. You will need to apply for a trademark. Consider consulting a lawyer with particular experience in trademarks to guide you through the process.

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