By Laura Haight
Branding, brand awareness, brand marketing. Even among buzzwords, branding is up on a pretty tall pedestal. And yet small businesses that long for the holy grail of brand awareness often don’t put their best foot forward in the most obvious of ways.
Technology makes a lot of things possible including building your own website, making your own business cards and designing your own logo. Interfaces are simple drag-and-drop affairs with images and text options. Everyone can be a designer and save satchel of cash!
I am a great fan of finding free and inexpensive tools to help us be competitive. I won't dwell on why you need a designer to create your logo except to say if you plan to be in business for a while, it’s a very worthwhile investment.
But all designers are not the same - and many of them scrimp on the details that you should expect from any professional developing your brand identity, which is what your logo is after all.
Here are five things you should get from your designer - whether you pay $200 or $2000 - and why they matter.
1. An vector EPS file. This is not an image file, it is a data file of your logo. An EPS can be blown up to fill a billboard or scaled down to fit on the head of a pin without losing its visual clarity and integrity. Here’s the rub: the logo.eps file that your designer gives you may not be a true vector eps file. EPS is a file extension that you create in Photoshop and other applications. But the end result will not be the same. How can you tell? Import your EPS file into a Word document and blow it up 200 percent. If it still looks crisp and clear, it is a true EPS.
2. A favicon. Huh? That’s a 16 pixel square image that represents your logo. The most frequent place you see them are on the tabs of your pages open in your browser. Typically this will be an element from your logo or image that represents your business. You will need this for your webpage for a more finished and professional look (you don’t want to be the only one with the blank page icon on my browser tab, do you?).
3. A square image. Businesses used to create both horizontal and vertical versions of logos so they had design flexibility without violating their own branding guidelines. Social media forces you into this in some ways, since many services like Facebook and Twitter to name the two biggies, want a square image to represent your business. All over the internet, you see businesses that have tried to use their horizontal logos in these spaces and end up with only part of their logos showing every time their message or tweet is displayed. This image can easily be created from the favicon you already asked for.
4. Your color palette. There is no such thing as blue. There are different ways color can be represented - RGB (Red Green Blue) is the color protocol most often used in desktop publishing, CMYK (Cyan Magenta Yellow Black) is a four-color process used in newspaper color production such as for advertising, HEX is the color code used in html. When you are trying to match the color from your logo to the color of those custom printed pocket folders you’re buying, you need to know the exact color values. To convert one protocol to another, you can use an online converter like this one.
It’s easy for your designer to provide this list of colors from your logo. If you’re on particularly good terms, you might also get an alternative color palette that will tell you what other colors you can use with your logo that will complement - not clash.
5. The work file. I know you don’t have Adobe Illustrator. But you should have the work file anyway. If you ever want to change your logo, or move work to another designer, you will save yourself a ton of angst and money by being able to produce the original design file. You should specify with your designer that you are the owner of the logo and you will want that work file up front. They should have no problem with that.