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We regularly get new customers that ask us for assistance on creating a logo for their business.  We thought it would be interesting to share what we did when creating our logo for SquareHook.  This process is a process that we have used with numerous businesses to help them define what their logo should be. 

Before beginning with the logo, have you picked your business name.  If your answer is no, stop here.  It’s extremely important that you are happy and settled on your name before even considering a logo.  That topic is a whole other blog post by itself.

Now that you have chosen a good business name, you are ready to start thinking about your logo.  The next step here is not to buy Photoshop and start playing with graphics.  Your next step is to build a design brief.  Fortunately, everything in the design brief just requires some Word Processing and search.

We can talk about design styles and everything else, but before we begin with that, define what your business does.  There is no better way to help a graphic designer then to tell them what exactly your business is as what it does.  When creating our design brief we initially began with 3 items:

Company Description

SquareHook is a start-up company that aims to be the mobile web choice for small, local businesses. The Company’s strategy is to alter the way in which people browse the web on their mobile devices by making it easy for these businesses to provide a mobile website for their ever growing market of customers that rely on their mobile
devices as a primary tool for browsing the internet.

SquareHook will host, manage and enhance our customers site with social media interaction, responsive design, easy editing and stellar support and expert graphic designers available to assist our customers with beautiful designs.

Target Customers

SquareHook is looking to target a specific segment of small, local businesses.

Restaurants who are looking to improve their website traction by replacing the typical PDF menu on their site with a more engaging mobile menu that allows their customers
to browse and highlight items for order, keep the phone number accessible and clickable so their customers will have a more engaging experience.

Small Retail Shops who provide services that mobile users would be particularly interested in. This would include flower shops, coffee shops, dry cleaning, real estate agents, bike shops, farmer’s markets and other service oriented business who’s customers are frequently on the go.

Taxi Cab Companies, which are already seeing a mobile trend where the typical user is coming to their site from a device. We have experience integrating these sites into larger reservations systems so they can provide a web experience that makes it easy for their customers and enhances the features they already have with current mobile apps in the market.

What service our business provides  

SquareHook provides full hosting, domain management, CMS integration, blogging and themes for all their customers. Members are able to create and manage their sites they way they want without knowing any HTML.

We provide two distinct levels of service to address the needs of our clients. The first is targeted at our customers who are a DIY crowd. These individuals want to create and manage their own site quickly and effortlessly. These individuals are looking for the easiest way to take a look that is close enough to fit their needs and build out a site inexpensively to provide their own customers a level of quality at a reasonable price.

The second group of individuals are those who need a website, but have no interest in managing it. They may not know, or desire to know anything about what it takes to create a site and host it. The individual wants a customized look and feel that caters to their market, but doesn’t want to be bogged down by all the day to day operations of a site. SquareHook will offer a service for the individuals, where for a premium, we will host the site, but also take care of the domain, maintenance, graphics and social media campaigns for these individuals.

What’s most surprising when talking with customers is just how little they know about 2 of the three items above, particularly target customer.  Really think about this information.  In our case, many things have changed from the beginning which is to be expected.  However, this is a useful exercise with building a great logo.  It’s also a fantastic opportunity to create focus in the initial creation of your business.

Now that you have defined your business and conveyed it into a 1 page summary (keep it simple), you can now begin defining important elements of your logo.  

What the name you want in your logo?

For SquareHook, we used this area to define a few basic bits of information.  We started with a few options in the design.  See our description of our desire here: “SquareHook – we are considering: all lower case, all caps, or just the S and H in caps.”  This is important because we are telling the designer the different options we would like the text to use.  We give the designer options, but also restrict what they can’t do.  

One element we are probably missing here is our desire not to have a space between the two words.  Fortunate for us, that wasn’t much of an issue in the design, but to be clear, it’s important to have those simple conversations.

In addition to defining our text and options with the text, we also describe how we chose the name and what the meaning is.  One token word we like to use with our brand name is whimsical.  This word did wonders for our designers to know just how much they could play.  Here is our description:

The name SquareHook was chosen with a few ideas in mind.

The end user of our sites will be viewing these websites from a square device in their hand. Square also conveys a space where the business resides.

The hook aspect of our name was chosen to indicate that this is a marketing tool to differentiate yourself from your competitors. If you have a mobile accessible site that has a higher quality aspect to it, customers will more likely be drawn to you when looking for a nearby place to shop or eat.

We wanted a name that is whimsical. Something that is easy to remember, easy to spell and provides an opportunity to be fun and creative.

Do you have a slogan or tagline?

Would you like examples incorporated in your logo.  You want to make sure if you have a slogan, you have designs with and without that show how that slogan can be displayed with your logo.  One sentence worked for us in defining this

Do you have a slogan you want incorporated in your logo?
Our tagline is Mobilizing the Web. We would like to see the logo alone and with the tagline.

What are your colors?  

We originally had two colors and honestly, our colors changed during the logo process.  Don’t spend a lot of time here.  Define 2 colors, but leave some flexibility with the designers here.  They will often surprise you and provide a better choice if color is flexible.  When specifying the colors you may currently use, provide more than the words red and black.  We provided screens of color pickers with rgb and hex values for the designer to view.

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We also made it very clear that these colors are not hard set.  Even during the design process we would specifically ask the designers to try different colors to see what they would look like.  It’s also important to know that you will need black and white versions and inverse color logos.  You will run into scenarios where the background behind your logo needs a different option.  Keep this in mind with your selection.

Where will your logo be used?

You need to tell your designers where you intend to use your logo.  Most are pretty straight forward: your website, business cards, etc.  Think about other things as well like t-shirts, toys or other things that might not be typical.  Here was ours:

Print (Business cards, letterhead)
Online (Website, online advertising, banner adds)
Merchandise (T-shirts, Marshall Turnstone)

Anything else?

Use this opportunity to say anything that you might think is relevant.  For us, we reiterated that we wanted the logo to be whimsical and fun.

Logo Concepts

Finally we get to graphics.  Don’t display any text here, just do a search on Google or other websites and take samples of logos or images that you like.  Our examples included a previous logo that we did by not following the above (our mistake).  We also included other logos we liked, a literal picture of a fish hook and some other random images of clouds, post its, etc and cubes.

Your design brief is ready.  Here is a complete example of the SquareHook Design Brief.

Now what?

Now you are ready to find a designer to help.  We often recommend firms that specialize on logo design.  There are many great firms out there that can help you out.  Do your homework and look at your options.  Make sure you look at their previous work to see if their style is something that you are interested in.  A few we have recommended in the past are http://www.ashworthcreative.com/ and http://www.thirdsun.com/.  

Also, be willing to talk with the designers.  If something is not right, comment.  Be critical too.  Give a go ahead only to a design that you truly think has merit.  Communicate, be honest and ask for options.  The designers want to make you happy.  If you like a design, it doesn’t hurt to ask what the logo would look like on a business card, letter head, etc.  

Some Final Tips?

Keep your logo designs simple.  At the end of the day, pick the simplest logos.  They will be the most memorable, easiest to manipulate and ultimately provide the greatest flexibility for your website designs, product packaging, merchandise, business cards and everything else.  Also consider that the text by itself is a perfectly fine logo.  You don’t have to have some representing icon.  

We hope this post will help you define and create a successful logo for your business.  Now that you have a direction with your brand, you can focus on other parts of your business.  Let us know if you have any suggestions or successful or unsuccessful tips from your experiences with logo creation.

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