Whether you are on social media or not, many of your customers are. How you handle the negative comments is just as important as how graciously you accept the positive ones.
Acronyms and technology are barrier islands between most of us and the tools we need to use and understand to promote, manage and run our businesses.
So, here are some basics to help you communicate in the language of the designer.
- Icons. An icon is a small image that represents something else. Ideally, it should be very clear so there is no guesswork on the part of the viewer about what they are looking at. Icons - like the ubiquitous man/woman bathroom signs - may be used to overcome language barriers and appear in all manner of sizes. In the online/digital word, icons are often much smaller and designed to be a call to action. When you see an envelope symbol, you just know that is the link to use to send an email.
- Favicons. A variation on the icon theme designed for today's social media marketplace. These are 16X16 pixel images that represent a company or an individual online. Favicons are used on websites (the image that appears in the browser tab alongside the name of the site), on Twitter/Facebook and other sites and in situations where it's not possible to run your full logo. A favicon can be a reduced version of your logo or a specially designed alternative version. If you intend to have a significant online or social media presence, you should ask your designer to create a favicon since not all logos will lend themselves to reduce or crop to this size.
- Pixel? What's a pixel? Take a photograph. Get a magnifying glass. Look very closely at the photo and you will see it is made up of millions of tiny squares. Each square is a pixel, which is the smallest unit of a picture. Each pixel has its own grid coordinates on the image. Step back and the pixels visually join together to create the overall image - or in the vernacular - a pix.
- Resolution roulette. I - or someone with an advanced degree in printing technology - could go on forever on dpi (dots per inch) vs ppi (pixels per inch) and how each is used. But here's what 99 percent of us need to know:
- The higher the resolution the more detail in the image.
- High resolution is only as good as your ability to see it.
- Computer monitors - it doesn't matter how much you spend on them - display images at 72 dpi.
- Magazine quality printing is 300 dpi or better.
- Higher quality images are larger, take up more space and take up more time to load. So unless you are printing a magazine, you want your images to have a resolution of 72 dpi if they are being viewed on a webpage.
- Understanding color: RGB, CYMK, HSL, Pantone, oh my! There are different color processes for different types of printing. The desired color is created by either adding or subtracting colors at certain percentages. Different types of printing utilizing different inking and color systems and thus require photos and graphics that are created using the right color process.
For example, newspaper offset printing is a four-color process known as CMYK (Cyan Magenta Yellow and Black), colors on web pages are represented by hexadecimal codes created by an RGB process (Red Green Blue), and many high end printers match colors using the Pantone Color Matching System which uses a patented process of base inks with a precise color matching to reproduce just about any color that the eye can see.
Why does this matter? Because there is no such thing as RED. There are hundreds of reds. And if your logo uses Pantone 185 (232 Red/17 Green/45 Blue), it will not match up with Pantone 187 (175 Red/10 Green/45 Blue).
Make sure you ask your designer to provide you with the color values for all the colors used in your logo and any alternate color palette that's developed for you. Only with that information can you guarantee a proper reproduction of your logo and your brand every time.
Great. You decided to get your company's logo professionally designed. So how do you know you've gotten what you are paying for, what should you expect?
There are as many definitions of "design" and "designer" as there are people pondering the concept. Design - as in all art - is in the eye of the beholder. One definition that many might agree on is that graphic design is a creative process undertaken to convey a message to a specific audience. That definition is a good one because it conveys that design is collaborative and it is a process.
So the first thing you should expect from your designer is
some method of sharing and discussing your company
, your products, your philosophy, your persona and your likes and dislikes on things as basic as color and type style. This may take the form of a conversation or two, some written questions provided as a way to promote new lines of thinking. If you own Compass Services, it might seem like a "no-brainer" to make some compass illustration your logo. But an experienced designer will dig deeper with you and you may end up somewhere that wasn't on your horizon when you started out.
Once the designer has more information, they have to
translate that into ideas
. Ideas are rough - often unformed. Because people tend to get caught up on color and typeface, these first passes may be nothing more than conceptual pencil sketches. Any good designer should give you some choices. Walk away from any designer who can only give you one "choice" and is looking for a quick approval.
Once you've settled on a concept, the designer will
refine the design.
This is fairly important as it involves
deciding on a color palette
. This color palette should impact every other area of your public persona - website, brochures, business cards, trucks, etc - so it's important. Imagine if Coca-Cola founder John Pemberton had said, "You know, I really don't like the red." Ideas about appropriate colors should already be forming - from your design concept discussions, from your business, from your products. But if nothing trips your trigger on the first pass, most designers will create more choices.
This is where we get into the issue of
. Once all is said and done, what should you get an how do you use it?
- Your designer should provide a logo in several different formats that you can use in different types of applications. At minimum you must get a vector file (.eps). This file is not an image but a data file and can be scaled up to a billboard or down to an icon without losing any detail. It is the .eps file that you will need for any high-quality printing, for clothing, for printing premium items like mugs or clothing. Printers may tell you that they can take your .jpg (j-peg) file, which is really a static image of your logo, but they will then charge you a design or set up fee to basically turn your .jpg into their interpretation of your logo as a .eps file. Since they don't know your fonts or color palette, this may be inconsistent with your approved logo. You can get a feeling for the difference between a jpg and eps file by putting any jpg image into a word processing document. Now select the image and drag it until it fills the page. You will see it lose quality.
- There are many areas where you can get away with a .jpg (such as online uses including digital stationary, email, and websites). If you want to have color backgrounds, you'll need a transparent logo in a .png format. This should be SOP for any designer.
- Color palette. At minimum, you ought to know what colors are actually used in your logo and what typeface and styles are in use. A more detailed "branding book" or "identity guide" may be an option with your designer and may be worth having. But there are many times that know what your actual colors are and what ink settings are required to reproduce them can be very important.
So, how much does all this cost? That is going to vary widely. But most designers will have a pricing level with minimal changes and, at the higher end, a level that includes unlimited changes. Make sure you honestly assess if you are a tweaker or not. Be honest; deceiving yourself can be costly when your designer starts piling on extra charges.
NEXT: Icons and favicons, oh my! Deconstructing the language of design.
Every business has to be fiscally responsible and especially in this economy finding ways to reduce expenses is critical.
Many small start ups take the DIYers path: create your own brochure, design your own website, write your own ad, make your own business cards and design your own logo.
As a company that provides all these services, we see concerns in all these areas. But at the same time, we know that the readily available tools do make this possible. You can get a serviceable website, a passable brochure and an OK business card by doing it yourself. When business picks up and your capabilities improve you can invest in an improved presence.
But you can't do this with your logo. As the heart of your corporate identity, your logo must have a permanence about it. A good part of your first few years will be spent networking and growing awareness and recognition of your company. Much of that connection will be made through the visual link of your logo.
A logo is not just your name in a different typestyle. Nor can you pick a nice photo out of a clip art library.
Your logo represents several things about your company.
- Your product/s or services. But if you are diversified and offer more than one type of product it is harder to pin a logo on this.
- Your principles and values such as strength, quality, watchfulness. Think of CBS's camera lens as the eye on the world.
- Your personality. Are you cool, hip, techy? Or mainstream, moderate, solid? Are you telegraphing experience or new ideas?
Designer Milton Glaser, who created the iconic "I Love NY" logo discusses the four keys to a good logo in Inc. Magazine .
The consistent element is that it takes a collaboration between a designer and a business to create a great logo. and no matter how small your company, you still want a great logo. No matter how many times you change your website, your logo will still be a prominent visual. Your brochures will change, but your logo will still be on the front. A better quality business card will still carry your logo.
Make your dollars count by investing in a good designer and a good logo.
Next: What you should expect from your logo designer.
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