Introducing GrowthParty!

Startup tools

Don’t miss out on this one.

Many of you are small businesses just like us. When we work with limited resources it can be difficult to achieve our desired results. I know you know the pain!

Enter GrowthParty. This free access website and growing community is fast becoming one on the best online libraries for business growth tools. Search the site for solutions to problems you’re facing and you’ll be presented with a range of tools that will help. No more filtering through pages and pages of useless Google searches to find the right resource for the job!

The party has recently broken out of website and has sprawled into a Facebook group which is definitely an exciting development. You need to request to join but provided you have a genuine business, entry is easy. A fair trade off so that members don’t have to sort through spam promotions like many other business groups on Facebook.

The party will continue well into the future with regular updates to the blog. Writers will focus on review and comparison pieces to further help you in selecting the right tools for your tasks.

Business life just got a whole lot easier, and we’re all invited to the GrowthParty!

Don’t forget to:

  • Join the facebook group here
  • Subscribe here

Hiring a Logo Designer – The Checklist

checklist

Here is our key points checklist. Use it to make sure the logo design service you pick has everything you need. We have included a link to our comparison spreadsheet at the bottom to make it even easier for you to make the right decision!

  1. Have a clear idea of your business’ goals, audiences, values and unique selling points. If you don’t know your business, a designer certainly won’t.
  2. Bespoke Design – Will the final designs be unqiue to your business?
  3. Portfolio – Look at this objectively. Some logos might not be your cup of tea but will work well for the intended target audience. Ask yourself if you think the logo works for the company.
  4. Deliverables – make sure you get all the files you need without hidden costs. The following are an absolute must:
      1. Vectors – .ai .eps
      2. Bitmap – .png
      3. Colourways for dark and light backgrounds.
      4. Files with transparent backgrounds
      5. Icon pack
  5. Reviews – check trusted third-party review sites like Trustpilot for previous client feedback. Testimonials from a designer’s own website should be taken with a pinch of salt as they are easily fabricated.
  6. Price – It is better to pay a little more initially for a logo you and your audience love, than pay infinitely more in future lost sales.
  7. Turnaround time – Design projects shouldn’t be rushed if you want the best results but make sure the lead times work with your timeline.
  8. Communication – ensure you are able to effectively communicate with your designer. Check you have more than one method of contact ie. phone, email, social media. Also language barriers often complicate and slow down projects.
  9. Locality – Your consumer rights are much easier to enforce if you work with a company that operates in the same legal system as you.
Logo design checklist

Feel free to make a copy of our comparison spreadsheet to make it easy to compare the logo design services you make enquiries with.

NOTE:  Please remember to go to ‘File > Make a copy’ before using this spreadsheet in order to keep it clean for the next person.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1B_P66X1QCKELEKF_3mHkKW3BbBK36cBzTpXlVByM6GA/edit?usp=sharing

When is it Time To Rebrand: 6 Signs That It’s Time To Take The Plunge

Market trends evolve constantly. It’s the same with your company’s brand. What used to work in the past might not work the same in today’s circumstances. Perhaps your product range has changed by now. Perhaps your brand has outgrown its original vision.

It’s time for redefining and recalibrating. How exactly do you know when it’s time for a change though? Is rebranding a good idea? Here are some things to consider when rebranding should take priority in your business:

When Your Brand Blends In

It may have been easy to stand out amongst the crowd when you first opened shop. Perhaps it was a new market and there was little competition. Now, however, the secret is out. You have found a lucrative market and the rest of the world seems to have caught on.

Rebranding will enable you to capitalise on the unique experience you provide your consumers. This is your chance to showcase your specific skills and stand out from the competition.

Potential Clients Don’t Understand What You “Do”

When your company was in its infancy, it’s likely you offered one clear and simple service or product. But as your business grew, you began implementing new products or services.

That’s perfectly fine. However, is it clear to your target audience what your company does? Does your brand reflect all that you offer?

Your brand needs to be clear and depict exactly what your company is now, not what it started as.

You may be exactly what the client is looking for, but they don’t know it because your brand isn’t telling them.

Outdated Logo

Much like fashion trends, logos can also go out of style. Depending on the font and graphics, your logo might look dated and passé. The last thing you want is a logo giving the impression that your company is behind the times.

A large part of revamping your brand is bringing your logo up to date. A less-than-modern logo can imply that your products or services are unattractive, even cheap. A fresh brand will be reflected in your new logo.

Uninformative or Difficult-to-Use Website

Chances are you’ve been in business for some time now – even decades. Why does that affect your website? Because when you first opened your doors, the internet was completely different.

The internet is a fast-moving technology and your competitors will also be changing how they brand themselves. If you don’t keep up with them, your website can easily become outdated, uninformative, and difficult to use.

If your website is outdated or not compatible with mobile devices, it will be difficult for your clients to find what they are looking for.

There is a chance that a lot of the information on the website is no longer correct. Personnel has probably changed over the course of time, along with their contact information. Maybe services are listed that you no longer offer. Or perhaps you now offer much more but your clientele isn’t aware because it’s not on your site.

If you are going to go through the effort to redesign a website, why not redesign your brand while you’re at it?

Merging

There is no better time to rebrand than when two companies are combining. It is an exciting time. Both teams are bringing fresh, new ideas to the table and it’s time to let the public in on what you’re doing. Rebranding at this time gives you the opportunity to present the new team to the world and make it clear exactly what products or services you will be offering.

This is especially important if those things have changed. Your new brand will reflect the merger and make it obvious what consumers can expect from it.

This is also a great time to rebrand if you or the joining company has undergone a little bit of negative publicity. When a company messes up – really messes up – the catastrophe will never be forgotten as long as you keep the same brand or that of the joining company. For everyone involved, it’s best to have a fresh new look.

Raising Prices

If you’ve been in business for a while, you are probably ready to start profiting on a larger scale. When you give your brand a facelift, people will be more apt to spend the higher prices you’re proposing.

Humans are drawn to what looks nice. If a brand is pleasing to the eyes (the colours on the logo, the easy-to-navigate website, the professional font on the business cards) consumers are okay with spending the price you ask. When your brand is aesthetically pleasing, people will trust you.

Want a higher profit margin? Rebrand.

Conclusion

Is rebranding a good idea? Yes, especially when you have these six telltale signs. Remember to always keep your brand fresh and modern, keeping up with the times. If you have been thinking about it already, that’s probably another sign that it is time.

12 Creative Branding Strategies to Stand Out

Today, more people have access to computers and smartphones than ever before, and this brings a new challenge when you’re trying to establish a business or brand. It’s not so much a matter of reaching people. These days, reaching the right audience has become difficult.

How do you make your brand stand out in the ocean of voices online?

In this post, we will give pointers on how to use some creative branding strategies to help your business stand out.

Be Yourself

Humans crave a personal connection with others. Use your brand to create that connection. Letting your own voice and personality make its way into your brand is a great way to create that level of authenticity that people value.

That authenticity is what will make your brand stand out as unique, rather than being buried amongst all your competitors’ voices and content online.

Keep a Consistent Theme

A theme, whether it’s the colour scheme, the font of a text, or the style of a photo, is important to make your brand stand out. Once someone is familiar with your consistent theme, it will stick out in their mind each time they see it while scrolling through their newsfeed.

Keep your team in-the-know on what you want your theme to be and keep it consistent across all of your platforms.

Use Networking Tools

Make sure to take advantage of all the potential tools at your disposal. There are more networking tools than ever to help grow your brand.

Posting a daily picture to Instagram can help. But doing that along with creating daily stories has the potential to reach even more individuals.

Another way is to launch a youtube channel. This gives you the option to do Q&A’s or go into deeper dives on the topics that you want to talk about.

Twitter is great to post short updates and thoughts. Additionally, you could also use it to hear back from your followers with Twitter polls.

Some people will love your in-depth text posts, while others enjoy scanning a quick bulleted list to get the main points. Some will appreciate a well-designed photo, while others will have your live feed on during their daily commute. Use each platform to reach as many people possible.

Use Visuals Wisely

The first thing that catches someone’s eye is normally a photo. A long line of text is easy to scroll right past, but a well-placed photo will make someone pause and take in more information. If someone sees a welcoming picture or video, they may stick around and begin to dive deeper into the information you have to offer.

If you’re going to use visuals to grab someone’s attention, make sure they’re quality. A pixelated image will only frustrate people. A high-quality picture makes your brand look knowledgeable and professional.

Start a Blog

Creating a blog based on your brand is a great way to show your customers what you can offer them. You can use this to share your own story and passions for your brand, which will help others feel a stronger connection towards you.

Use your blog to give your advice and show off your expertise on anything related to your brand. This will show that you are a problem solver and willing to take that extra step to help your audience.

Recurring Posts

Once you have an audience base, you want to make sure not to lose them. Creating recurring content will give them a reason to keep coming back. You could do this by hosting a weekly Q&A or slideshow of your “best-of”s for the week.

This gives you a chance to let your audience know that you value their views. The influx of content and the chance to show your personality will keep people coming back for more.

Show that You Value Your Customers

While most advertising and branding focus on self-promotion, be sure to let your audience know that you are willing to serve them. Let them know that they can reach success and your brand is there to help them along the way.

You can also offer your customers value-added services. Discounting items for those who spend more, or giving special offers to frequent buyers can help a customer feel connected to your brand. A reward system is engaging and will create repeat customers.

Donate to a Cause

Teaming with a local cause gives your brand a chance to make a social change. This helps your brand stay in touch with the community and builds a relationship with your audience.

Donating to a local cause can add more value to your brand simply by letting your audience know that you care about their community. They will be more willing to support you, and in turn, feel as if they are involved in something great.

Stick to a Strategy

It may seem simple, but having a game plan and values can help you and your entire team stay on track. Taking creative license is a good way to come up with new ideas, but having a strategy to follow will always keep you in line and timely with your work. It will give you and your team direction.

Having a strategy will also help organise your team members into their perfect position. Each individual will add something different to your brand, but your strategy will keep everyone in line and focused on the same goal.

Learn from Others

Check out other brands that are doing the same thing you are and decide what you like and dislike about each of them. See how they implement creative tactics in advertising. Implement those ideas and then take some of the former points into account to make your brand unique.

You can even learn from yourself. Contemplate what has made you successful. Think of the professional and personal experiences that you have had and then write down why those experiences turned out so well. Move forward and keep those ideas in mind.

Conclusion

Your brand is unique and your story is worth telling. Using these pointers will catch the eye of your audience and give you a chance to make a connection with them. With this, you can grow your brand and stand out in the crowd.

Hidden Meanings in Famous Logos: What You Didn’t Know

You see these famous logos everywhere – driving down the street, in stores, online and in your own closets and pantries. They are so common and easily identifiable that you probably don’t even notice how surrounded you are by them each day.

Just a quick glance at these logos and you will instantly know the brand or company that they represent. They can be very simple or quite complex, but since you’re so used to having them around, you probably don’t put much thought into what they really mean. They are in fact designed with some secrets stories and messages behind them.

Here are some of hidden messages in logos and the secrets behind them:

Starbucks

Next time you’re standing in line to order your morning latte, notice the mermaid that graces the cups, signs, walls and pretty much everything at Starbucks.

A lot of people don’t realise that this world-famous coffee shop is actually named after a character in Herman Melville’s classic novel, Moby-Dick. The founders thought it appropriate to make their symbol a mermaid to keep up with the nautical theme they were aiming for.

Toyota

The symbol of the famous Japanese car company, Toyota, is very easily identifiable. Some people say that it reminds them of some type of cowboy hat, but this logo actually pertains to the much earlier days of the company, when they were known for manufacturing weaving machines. More impressively, the shapes in the logo actually spell out Toyota.

BMW

Another prominent car manufacturing company, BMW is symbolised by a white and blue circle. These two colours are symbolic of the Bavarian Free State.

At the time when the logo was made, it was actually illegal to create any commercial trademarks that used national symbols. The BMW logo evaded this rule by reversing the colour order.

Pepsi

The classic red, white and blue Pepsi logo underwent a redesign in 2009. Although the new design may seem like a just an asymmetrical rendition of the original, designers at Arnell Associates said that they took inspiration from a wide range of places – from Feng Shui, Rene Descarte, the theory of relativity, Renaissance art, and other avant-garde sources.

Cisco

The series of vertical lines that symbolise Cisco Systems actually represent the famous Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. While driving across the iconic bridge on the way to register their new company, the founders decided to not only make the bridge their logo, but also to name the company after the city itself.

Toblerone

The Swiss chocolate company, Toblerone, can be easily recognised by their long, rectangular packaging and their symbolic golden mountain logo. What the majority of chocolate fans don’t notice, though, is the silhouette of a standing bear in the mountain. The reason for this being is that the city of Bern, where the company is based out of, is commonly known as the City of Bears.

Hermès

This illustrious fashion house was founded in 1800’s Paris. In their early days, they weren’t yet known for the scarves and handbags that they create today. Instead, they actually made riding harnesses. Their well-known horse and carriage logo was created in the 1950s to pay tribute to the roots of the brand.

Google

Google, being the innovative brand that they are, wanted their logo to show that they break the rules. The logo is simply “Google” spelled out with each letter being a different colour. The first four letters are primary colours, and just when it looks like it’s going to repeat again, the “L” is green, a secondary colour.

Lacoste

The simple crocodile design that symbolises the Lacoste brand has a story behind it. After the company’s founder, René Lacoste, famously bet on a suitcase made of alligator skin, the American press gave him the nickname The Alligator.

The media of his home country, France, translated the name as The Crocodile, which Lacoste then decided would make the perfect underpinning for his brand.

Apple

The symbolism surrounding this iconic bitten apple has been the topic of much debate. Some say that it represents the biblical forbidden fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge”, while others say it pays tribute to early scientists such as Alan Turing or Sir Isaac Newton.

While all of these seem appropriate, the designer himself, Rob Janoff, says he can’t actually recall why he chose this shape.

Amazon

Amazon is one of the fastest-growing companies to date, and its iconic symbol is now seen everywhere. It might seem like a simple smiley face under the name, but what you might not have noticed is that there is also an arrow motioning from A to Z.

This is symbolic of the massive variety of items and services the e-commerce company offers.

LG

The classic LG logo shows a sort of Picassoesque human face made out of the letters L and G. This was designed as such to symbolise that LG is working to serve the people.

FedEx

FedEx’s simple yet sophisticated logo has won several awards for design. The design cleverly creates a forward-facing arrow in the negative space between E and X. The arrow is symbolic of the company’s forward-thinking, innovative work.

Yamaha

This world-renowned Japanese brand markets a variety of products, from electronics to motorcycles. The company was originally established in the 1800s and made organ reeds and pianos, inspiring the iconic logo. It features a configuration of three piano tuning forks.

Audi

Audi’s iconic interlocking rings logo can be spotted in almost any country. Each ring is actually symbolic of one of the four businesses that merged together in 1932 to create the company known today as Audi. Those businesses included Audi, Horch, DKW, and Wanderer.

Conclusion

With so many brands and companies that we’re exposed to every day, it is easy to forget that each of them has a story and identity that they’re trying to convey. There is a lot of hidden meaning in famous logos have much deeper meanings than what can be seen on the surface.

It could be a tribute to their past or homeland, a symbol representing the brand’s mission and character, or even a reference to a funny backstory. If you simply pay closer attention to some of the logos you come across, you may actually learn some really interesting hidden messages in logos that you never knew about.

5 Cool Lessons We Can Learn from AirBnB’s Branding

AirBnB needs no introduction. As you would know, it is an online marketplace for short-term rentals worldwide. The magic that separates an AirBnB stay from a hotel stay is an adventure enriched by cultural authenticity. There is also a warm cozy home feel that a hotel just doesn’t quite have.

Airbnb has certainly staked their place in the hospitality industry with a solid marketing strategy and a stellar brand strategy everyone should take notes from.

5 Cool Lessons We Can Learn from AirBnB’s Marketing Strategy

Build A Community To Grow With

Building a community is one of the most valuable things you can do for your brand, and it has been a major component in the AirBnB branding strategy. Creating a community to share stories, experiences and information builds trust and forms relationships that attracts loyal customers.

AirBnB clearly puts a lot of effort into maintaining and building onto their community by being on nearly every digital channel. It also leverages user-generated content, allowing AirBnB to present content that keeps the community up-to-date and establishes trust and authority in the brand.

The community also provides the company with valuable direct feedback on customer satisfaction to guide any changes that need to be made. It keeps their loyal customers included in any major company shifts, such as rebranding.

This creates excitement for customers because it gives them something new to look forward to and acknowledges their voice to give them significance. Everyone looks for a place to belong, and AirBnB has become a home away from home for many.

Entice Consumers With High-Quality Photography

A picture is worth one thousand words. AirBnB certainly thinks so. It did not take long for the company to realise that marketing with high-quality photography drastically increased their booking conversion.

The AirBnB marketing strategy spends more on production than promotion because great quality yields more engagement. AirBnB believes this so much that they launched the AirBnB Photography Program for hosts to book professional photography sessions to produce high-quality content for marketing their rentals.

People cannot help but enjoy looking at pretty things. However, a fabulous photograph does so much more for marketing than just drawing attention. A high-quality picture creates an inspiring and exciting vision that customers can see themselves in, and that is what entices them to book their stays with AirBnB.

Give Value to Get Value

The AirBnB marketing strategy revolves around going above and beyond to give their guests an experience that can match, if not exceed, a hotel stay. Guests have access to detailed knowledge of local hidden gems, great places to get a bite, and transportation recommendations. All of this is available while also providing the comfort of staying in a place to call home for a week or two.

By doing all of this, AirBnB is able to share their values of multiculturalism, diversity, and a love for traveling with their customers, which is what keeps them coming back and appreciating the value.

AirBnB branding has also been known to partake in totally unexpected campaigns that remain aligned to the brand’s message. A perfect example of this is their campaign for lucky winners to have a dream-come-true stay at the Lego House in Denmark. This was an amazing way to give value to their fans while driving engagement and justifying plenty of media coverage for the company.

Set Expectations

People love a surprise when it gives them what they want; otherwise, it is considered a problem. The best way to avoid problems is by setting great expectations which can be successfully met with a strong understanding of consumer learning. It is imperative for customers to know what to expect and what is expected from them to ensure they have a pleasant experience that meets their expectations.

Communicating expectations and any changes as frequently and as early as possible reduces the chance of disappointing your customers. AirBnB sets expectations with their customers by providing guidelines for hosts to meet an acceptable quality of hospitality and by allowing hosts to upload “House Rules” for guests to abide by on their stay.

Another way the company has set expectations for their fans and community was by priming everyone for their decision to rebrand. They dropped hints of the coming changes so fans would not be blindsided and established a two-way social dialogue to bring fans into the fold.

They also maintained control of the narrative to decrease any misunderstandings the public may have had for the company’s rebranding. AirBnB was careful to not make any promises along the way that would set any expectations higher than they intended to deliver.

Maintain A Student Mentality

The day you stop learning is the day you stop growing, and if your company is not growing you will want to change something. AirBnB has a team of data scientists who test the market and measure their digital and traditional marketing channels to maximise their return on investment.

By adopting a system for experimentation and studying their data and performance metrics, AirBnB is able to expedite the time it takes to learn the needs and wants of their target audience. Basically, your data and performance metrics give you a logical way to determine what the best marketing channel is for you at any given time.

Conclusion

Effective use of these 5 branding tips learned from AirBnB’s impressive success will allow you to create a brand capable of receiving lots of love and support from consumers. Branding is a highly involved process that has one simple goal: adopt a vision people want to support. AirBnB has made such a successful brand by simply believing in their values with a passion and sharing those passionate values with their customers.

The ONLY Logo Design Guide You’ll Ever Need

When you look at a great logo, what you see is shapes, colors, and maybe some text. What you don’t see is the hours of research, planning, crafting, and refining that it took to get to that final logo in the first place.

Designing a logo seems easy until you actually have to do it. Suddenly, you’re stumped, lost, and don’t know where to turn to for help.

This is why we put together this guide—the ULTIMATE guide for logo designing. Both graphic design newbies and industry pros can learn a trick or two from this guide, from the elements of good design to color theory. Join us as we go deep into the art of logo design!

Why Are Good Logos Important?

Logos are pretty much the first impression many people will have of your brand. When they encounter you in the store, online, or anywhere else, your logo will be front and center. Customers will often make assumptions about your company based on your logo alone…even before they’ve seen your products or services! A good logo will let your audience know:

  • Who you are
  • What industry you’re in
  • What values you are trying to promote

A professionally-done logo will make your company look more trustworthy and credible. On the other side of the coin, a poorly-done logo could make your brand out to be something it’s not: low-quality and substandard.

Ultimately, logos are important because they help communicate a clear message about your company to your customers. It tells them “we’re fun and playful, come work with us!” or “we provide excellent products to people like you”. Logos can say a lot and help your customers make decisions, so it’s definitely one of the most important business decisions you’ll make.

What Makes A Logo Great?

Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula to a great logo. There’s no specific mathematical computation, no set of colors or images or fonts that definitively make up “good design”. That means online logo generators will never create logos to the same standard as a creative professional. A lot of what makes a logo awesome are intangible things. Sometimes, you just know it when you see it.

However, there are some ways you can “measure” how effective a logo is. Here are the ways to tell if a logo is great or not.

Impact

Even at first glance, your logo needs to strike a chord with your consumers. The message must be loud and clear for it to be powerful. You somehow have to blend a logo that feels current but also timeless, forward-looking.

Impact also covers the visual appeal of your logo. The colors should work together, the lines should be polished, and the elements shouldn’t feel cramped.

Brand Recall

The next question you need to ask is, “is it memorable?” A great logo is immediately recognizable. When someone sees your logo, even if your company name isn’t attached to it, they should still know whose logo it is.

Take a look at Nike’s logo, the famous swoosh. If you see this logo anywhere, even if there’s no mention of the brand Nike at all, you know exactly what company it is.

If your logo can be associated with your brand easily and quickly, it will stick in people’s minds. Why does this matter? Studies have shown that the more memorable a brand is, the more likely consumers will be to support it.

Relevance

Your logo needs to represent your business and what you stand for. As one of the first things you come up with (probably second only to the name of your company), your logo sets the tone for the rest of your brand identity. The logo needs to fit the right mood, tone, feeling, and message that you’re going for. It sounds like a lot to put on a logo, but the best ones are the ones that simply make sense for your brand.

Originality

The only thing worse than a bad logo is a bland, unoriginal one. You don’t want a cookie-cutter logo that could be confused for any one of your competitors. A unique logo, one that really thinks outside the box, helps you stand out. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about copyright issues or trademark laws!

Simplicity

Logos come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, but if there’s one thing they have in common, it’s that they’re all simple and easy to remember. Great logos don’t try to overwhelm the customer with flashy images and special text effects. Too many design elements just get in the way of effectively communicating with your target audience.

Timelessness

Trends are all right and good, that is until the trend dies. If your logo is designed with only the present in mind, you’ll end up having to reinvent it in a few years just to keep up. A great logo will stand the test of time and last 5, 10, maybe even 50 years.

Having to redesign your logo isn’t the end of the world. Major brands do it all the time, but sparingly. Companies like Apple, Coca-Cola, and Microsoft have all seen multiple logo redesigns in the last few decades, but they merely updated an already-great template.

Versatility

Your logo is going to be used on everything from business cards to stickers to billboards, so you have to make sure it works no matter what the medium is. Regardless of design constraints, your logo needs to have the same impact and readability on the internet as it would printed on a t-shirt.

Types Of Logos

To the untrained eye, all logos look and feel the same: just a symbol with the company’s name in it. However, there are actually different types of logos you can create, and each has their own advantages and disadvantages.

Lettermarks/Monogram Logos

If you have a long company name that you abbreviate into an acronym—think IBM, NASA, HBO—a lettermark logo might be your best bet. These are typography-based logos that are simple and easy to read and very memorable. These work best for established businesses that already have high recall, but that doesn’t mean a start-up can’t use a monogram logo. Just include the longer business name along with the initials to reinforce your brand.

Wordmark Logos

Logotypes also play with typography to create a lasting, memorable brand. While these may incorporate symbols or images, the focus is still on a font that shows your company’s personality. Companies with short, distinct names like Google or Coca-Cola are great examples of this.

To create a logotype, find a font that captures the very essence of your business. Is it serious? Classy? Traditional? Modern? From there, you can scout for a font, make edits to one, or even create your own!

Pictorial/Symbols/Literal Imagery

These are probably what you think of when someone says the word logo. Popular with small start-ups and big businesses alike, literal logos are an easily-recognizable visual representation of what the brand is. Think of Apple’s iconic…well, apple or Twitter’s bird logo. Instant recognition.

Because there is a direct association with your company and the image you use, your customers won’t have to guess what it is that you do. However, it’s a bit tricky to get right because it can easily veer into generic territory. Plus, if your business model changes, your logo may soon become irrelevant.

Abstract Logos

Instead of using direct, literal translations of what your business is, abstract logos use a unique combination of abstract geometric forms. These evoke a mood or tone. Some good examples of abstract logos are the Nike swoosh or Pepsi’s logo.

Abstract logos are great for international businesses or companies that offer a diverse range of products/services. Because these are symbolic, it can be easy to miss the mark and come up with an aesthetically-pleasing yet nonsensical logo that doesn’t fit your brand.

Mascot Logos

Putting a face to your brand is an effective way of getting people to relate to your company. From cartoonish to quirky to friendly, there are many ways to execute a mascot logo. This character must represent the company’s most important values while also being distinct and recognizable. Famous mascot logos include the Kool-Aid guy and Colonel Sanders. These are best reserved for family-friendly businesses.

The biggest problem with mascot logos is that they don’t replicate as well over a variety of mediums. Because characters can be quite detailed, fitting them on small assets like business cards will be difficult. Mascot logos can be inherently ethnocentric too. Does the KFC logo create the same family feel in the eastern World? Consider combining a mascot logo with other types of logos (especially the typography-based one) to support the brand identity.

Combination Logos

This kind of logo combines picture and text to create a powerful image. Both work together to reinforce your brand by associating the name with the symbol and vice-versa. The common way to do this is to integrate the text into the symbol, rather than placing them next to each other. For inspiration, think of logos like Burger King’s or Doritos’.

Emblem

Emblems are much like combination logos, except the logo resembles a seal, badge, or crest. It has a very classic, traditional feel to it, which is probably why this is the favored logo type of schools, government organizations, and the like. The most popular emblem logo is perhaps Starbucks’, which encases both text and image in a round seal.

Emblem logos are more highly-detailed and usually built on a strong story, but because of this, they are also often more rigid and less versatile. Get the best of both worlds by creating a simple yet still striking emblem logo and minimizing the design elements.

Color Theory for Graphic Design Newbies

Play with colors effectively, and you will have a visually-appealing, distinct logo that your customers won’t have trouble remembering. However, colors do more than just grab your attention.

As humans we have evolved to react in certain predictable ways to certain colors, so we unconsciously associate certain meanings and emotions to specific colors. The right colors will highlight your business’ personality while the wrong colors can accidentally send the wrong message.

Without going too in-depth with color theory and psychology, here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular associations with colors:

  • Red: Red is the color of excitement, passion, and adventure. If you have a loud brand that wants to stand out, choose red.
  • Orange: Orange is less bold compared to red but still very invigorating. Add vibrancy and energy to your logo with orange hues.
  • Yellow: Yellow is known to be very cheerful, happy, upbeat, positive, friendly, and accessible.
  • Green: Green is the most versatile of the colors. It’s most often used to signify something natural, down-to-earth, or calming, depending on the shade.
  • Blue: Half of all logos use blue as a main color. It’s a classic color that looks calm, cool, and mature. You’ll find tons of blue logos in finance, tech, and healthcare industries for this reason.
  • Purple: Purple is the color of royalty, so it’s no surprise that companies use it to denote luxury and elegance. There’s also a hint of femininity with this color.
  • Pink: Even more feminine than purple, pink is often used with products/services marketed towards women. Pink is also quite youthful, so you can find it on a lot of kids’/teens’ items.
  • Brown: For a more earthy, masculine edge, do your logo in brown. You could also use brown for a brand that feels vintage or handcrafted.
  • Black: Sleek, modern, and minimalist are the trademarks of black logos.
  • White: White is clean and youthful, but more often used as a secondary color to help your primary color pop.
  • Gray: Gray is the halfway point between black and white, both literally and symbolically. Go for gray if you want something mature and serious, yet softer than black.

Color Combinations

Single color logos are always popular. Combining colors adds texture and depth, tells a story, and makes your logo look much more appealing. But be careful, don’t go overboard!

But how do you get the right color combination? You can use a palette generator online or you can experiment with the color wheel. Generally speaking, there are 3 main ways to use a color wheel to determine the optimum color combination for your logo design.

Complementary

Complementary colors are those that sit across each other on the color wheel. These are good contrasting colors that work well together while looking bold and dynamic. Common complementary colors include orange & blue, red & green, and yellow & purple.

Analogous

Take any 3 colors that are placed next to each other on the color wheel. Analogous color combinations work to give a sense of harmony and unity to your logo. These colors blend well together and are easy on the eye.

Triadic

Get 3 colors from different yet equal sections on the wheel. This is your color triad. It’s the right balance between contrast and complements to create a bold, stimulating, and interesting design.

Fonts

Fonts also have their own stories to tell. Combined with an image or even on its own, the right choice of font will communicate your brand’s unique personality. With hundreds of thousands of fonts available online (and more getting added every day), it would be impossible to look through them all.

You can narrow down your search by building up a personal library of fonts that you like. Narrow it down even further by choosing from one or two of the following font styles for your logo. Make sure you have the correct licenses too. Many fonts are free for personal use but not for commercial.

Serif

The word “serif” pertains to the little feet or edges at the end of the letter. Serif fonts can be pretty versatile but are generally regarded as more serious, elegant, classy, and old-fashioned compared to non-serif fonts.

Sans Serif

Sans serif fonts are the younger, hipper sibling of the serif. Because they do away with the decorative feet/edges, sans serif fonts look more modern, clean, and sleek. They are also easier to read on digital screens, so are commonly used in body text on websites.

Script

Script fonts mimic the style of handwriting, which means you can find script fonts that evoke wildly different personalities. From elegant to fun to relaxed, you can find a script font for any mood you’re going for. These can also lend a bit of an individualistic, handcrafted vibe.

Display

Display fonts are different from other kinds of fonts because they were developed with a completely different purpose in mind. Unlike most other fonts where readability is paramount, display fonts were created, first and foremost, to be beautiful to look at. These will give your logo a unique touch. You can even create one yourself!

How To Design A Logo

People who have never designed a logo in their lives may think that logo design is simple. Just come up with a few ideas, add a fun font, and voila! You have a logo. But logo design is one of those things that technically everyone can do, but only a few are actually great at.

Just think about the most iconic logos you’ve seen. You’re probably thinking along the likes of Apple, McDonald’s, Starbucks, and other big multinational brands. The most powerful logos seem so simple, so intuitive, so…obvious. Many people only ever see the final product. It’s easy to forget how much thinking and creativity is involved in simplifying an idea into its purest unique form. Simplicity in an ever-increasing sea of complexity is beauty. That’s the magic of logo design—it comes off as effortless, not betraying all the work that went into it. It doesn’t try hard, it just works.

Getting it to “just work” is a long process. Here are the steps to designing an awesome logo.

Step 1: Do Your Research

Find out everything you can about the company—its history, its goals, its values, its previous logos, who their target market is, etc. You need to know it like the back of your hand. Remember: you can’t be over-informed!

Understanding the brand is the first step in creating powerful, relevant work. If you’re working from a brief provided by the client, make sure what they want is clear so you don’t waste time designing and revising something they don’t like.

Part of researching means looking into the competition as well. Look at their logos and derive inspiration from them. This doesn’t mean you should copy their logos, but you should learn from their mistakes and successes. If you understand the visual vocabulary of the industry you’re designing for, you’ll better be able to work with it or subvert it as you need to. Always aim to make a logo better than your competitors.

Step 2: Define the Style

Figure out who the brand is. If the brand was a person, what would they look like? How would they talk and behave? What would their hobbies and interests be? What makes them unique and special and different?

Come up with all the words or phrases that relate to the company. This is pure brain fart territory, there are no right or wrongs. Anything that comes to mind, write down. Filter out what doesn’t work when you’re done. This is a great way of finding unique angles to approach your designs from. The words will help guide all of your decisions when making the logo to ensure that you’re not straying too far from who the brand is.

Making a mood board can further help you zero in on what style to go for. Compile images, fonts, photos, and colors that remind you of the brand. A visual representation will ground your design and help you work towards a design that is more coherent.

Step 3: Sketch Out Your Ideas

Without worrying about details or quality, just draw out as many different ideas as you can. The important part here is to get everything out on paper and sort through it later. Sketch out wildly different concepts or variations of the same concept. Bad, good, great—it doesn’t matter.

Don’t censor or criticize your ideas at this stage. Think inside the box, think outside of the box, or destroy the box altogether. Your first idea won’t be your best one, so you have to push yourself to make original associations and clever combinations.

Even after this step, do not toss out any of your sketches. They are valuable sources of inspiration and give you great insight into your creative process. If you get stuck at any of the later stages, you can always go back to see if you’ve missed anything new or exciting.

Step 4: Refine Your Best Logos

Pick the logo sketches that you like the most. Try to get different styles or vibes with each one. These are the ones you will flesh out and mock-up into a full-fledged logo. Don’t be afraid to combine the best of your ideas together for something even more powerful and unique.

Refine the sketches on vector software. Smooth out the lines, add color, and put it all together. Get helpful feedback from friends, family, and trusted colleagues. How they receive it (especially if they’re the target market) will help you tweak your logo and make it better.

Make sure the logos have the right proportions, symmetry, consistency, and balance. Always double-check your work to make sure that it looks good in color, grayscale, black & white, and dark/light backgrounds.

Step 5: Present It In A Friendly Format

It’s important to render and export your logo in a format that best shows off its design. Present it in an organized, hassle-free way so that the clients can focus on giving feedback. Show off the logo in a variety of contexts, against different backgrounds, and on mock-ups of their packaging, website, or business cards to help them visualize what it will look like.

Step 6: Finalize The Logo Design

Once the final round of comments are in, use those to refine the design even further. At this point, you might need to change the colors, find a different font, or make other minor tweaks to please the client. Once you’ve adapted the logo according to their specifications, test it out again. Go through this checklist before submitting a final logo design to a client:

  • Does the logo follow what the client wants? Does it incorporate all of the comments from Step 5?
  • Does the logo look good in color, grayscale, B&W, and in its single color variations?
  • Does the logo look good against a variety of light and dark-colored backgrounds?
  • Was the logo done on a vector program? Is the final logo clean, polished, and not pixelated?
  • Is the logo currently saved at the right resolution and the right file type?
  • Is there a style guide, as required by the client?

If you’ve answered yes to all of these questions, congratulations! You’ve just finished creating a logo.

Tips For Creating Awesome Logos For Any Business

  • Use the right tools. There are dozens of design applications that you can use to create stunning logos. The most common are GIMP, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator. Adobe Illustrator is the most popular because it’s an intuitive, feature-packed program that lets you create vectors and logos with ease.
  • Less is more. Good design is not when there’s nothing left to add. Good design is when there’s nothing left to take away. Do not overcomplicate the logo. Reduce it to the absolutely essential elements needed to convey your message and nothing more.
  • Make more active or dynamic logos by adding motion (or the illusion of it). This means depicting animals, people, or even objects in a state of movement rather than just sitting idly by.
  • You may not have to do this, but including brand guidelines and rationale with your logo is a value-adding service for your clients. It doesn’t have to be a multi-page handbook. Just 1-2 pages describing how to use it, how not to use it, and a brief explanation of what the logo means to the brand.
  • Take your time. Good work is never rushed. If you need to take a break and get some distance for your work, go for a walk or sleep on it. You’ll be able to look at it with fresh eyes and make better work.
  • Be sensitive to cultural differences or any secret double meanings your logo might have that you didn’t notice at first. This is why it’s important to show your logo around to multiple people; they might notice something you missed.
  • Keep learning. Look up online tools and resources, experiment, and practice, practice, practice! Great designers are made, not born. Keep working at it and hone your craft.

Common Design Mistakes That Beginners Make

  • Don’t use too many fonts! Use 1 or 2 AT MOST. If using more than one, make sure the fonts play off each other well. Take your time choosing the right ones and getting the combination just right.
  • Don’t put too many design elements in one logo. Too many colors, effects, or symbols will muddle your message and make your brand seem confused and unfocused. To avoid having too much going on, start working on the logo in black & white with no special effects. It needs to stand on its own before you can start introducing colors and the like.
  • Avoid visual cliches. They make sense (they are cliches for a reason), but they are overused and unoriginal. It will make your company look generic. The logo won’t stand out, do something different, or contribute anything new. If you must include one (like a cup for a coffee shop or leaves for an all-natural product), play with the images. Find a fun way to spin them to stand out from the rest.
  • Never ever copy or steal someone else’s work! Getting inspiration is one thing, but blatantly grabbing someone else’s design, making a few alterations, and passing it off as your own is another. Not only is this unethical, but you can face legal consequences for this.
  • Don’t submit unpolished work. Always smooth out the curves and clean up the lines in the final design. It needs to be absolutely flawless. Even the smallest imperfections will be obvious when the logo is blown up on a billboard, so make sure you go over your work before you hand it in.
  • Do not submit non-vector logo files. Vectors can be scaled up or down as needed without looking grainy or pixelated.
  • Do not get too caught up in trends. Trends come and go, but good design is timeless.

Conclusion

There you have it, the ultimate guide to designing a logo. The process might seem like a lot, especially to a first-timer, but go slowly and you’ll be alright. Follow these steps (and our handy do’s and don’ts) to create remarkable, stunning, powerful logos in no time!

7 Financial Tips to Consider When You Launch Your Startup

So, you’re thinking about heading down the path of entrepreneurship and finally launching your startup.  Launching your own startup can be a very fulfilling and rewarding if executed properly.

It’s easy to have a great idea and imagine all the possibilities that the future holds. However, what’s more important than the future is making sure you’re taking every measure to set yourself up for success. There are many moving parts that make up a successful startup, and you’ll want to go in with as much insight and information as you can.

Financial management for startups can make or break your entire strategy. If you’re wondering “what is a startup budget” or clueless about what financial tips you should know about, here are some financial advice for startups that you should consider before launching:

Watch Your Expenses

Obviously, you’d want expenses to be low in general, but it’s crucial in the early days of your startup to ensure your business will be successful long-term. Keep materialistic things to a minimum.

Maybe you’ve been dreaming of setting up shop in that new high-rise downtown, or of catering lunches every day for your new team. These things may be feasible in the future, but in the beginning, keep expenditures low.

Consider having you and your team working remotely for a while – it’s becoming increasingly popular and can really help keep your early overhead low. This will enable you to allocate most of your capital to further grow your business. Many startups place too much emphasis on image and employment perks in the beginning and it can really slow down their success in the long run.

Having said that, there are certain things that desirable but not needed; while others are absolutely crucial. For example, deciding your brand elements and direction is crucial right from the start. This isn’t something you’d want to save on. If you get it wrong, it could have dire consequences down the road – you’d find that it’s a lot harder to change your brand.

Give Yourself a Reasonable Salary

It might seem like the best thing to do with that hard-earned revenue is to put it all back into the business, but don’t neglect your own financial comfort and stability.

You need to pay yourself enough to survive on. Living comfortably and not having to stress about your own finances will allow to bring your best self to the office every day and become more focused on growing your young business.

Aside from living comfortably and reducing stress, paying yourself reasonably can also be helpful for tax purposes. Consider determining a certain percentage of your revenue to pay to yourself. You can then decide what to keep in your business checking and business savings.

Set Boundaries Between Personal and Business Finances

This is so important and can be difficult to implement if you aren’t serious about it from the beginning. It’s also another reason why giving yourself a decent salary is so important – you don’t want to be dipping into your company’s money to buy groceries.

Make this easier on yourself by setting up a business checking account from the very start. That way, there will be a clearly defined line of what money is for the business and what money is yours to spend. If you are putting your own personal money into the business or covering any expenses on your own, transfer that money into your business checking account.

Track Your Cash Flow

One of the many mistakes made by new startup owners is not keeping track of their cash flow. This can lead to your worst nightmare coming true: running out of money. So, you will want to know exactly where every bit of money is coming from and where it’s going to.

Set a strict budget and start thoroughly logging your expenses early on. You can do this very easily by using a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel and record everything on a regular basis.

You can determine a schedule that works best for you, whether you decide to log in data on a daily or weekly basis. Knowing where your money is moving to and from will give you peace of mind and let you know quickly when any discrepancies come along.

Start with a Small Team

Managing your resources responsibly from the beginning is vital. Some startups may be a bit more complex than others and require more manpower, but the smaller the team you can start with, the fewer people you will have to pay.

Consider which people will be most needed and valuable to you for your launch. You’ll want to have the team necessary to make things possible and run smoothly. You can always hire more people in the future once the demand for your business is higher and you have enough revenue coming in to pay more salaries.

Your Time is Your Money

Even with all of your newfound freedom that comes with working for yourself, you still need to establish some type of personal schedule. Make sure that you are getting done what needs to be done daily, and not putting it off to do another time.

Especially when your business is young and your employee count is low, every minute not spent working on something business-related is costing you money. Stay disciplined and understand the value of your time and effort.

Set Realistic, Attainable Financial Goals

It is easy to start dreaming of your millions from the beginning, but what’s going to be most rewarding and gratifying is reaching realistic and measurable goals.

It’s easiest to track the growth of your business through daily, weekly, or monthly revenue goals. Seeing this constant growth and small wins will keep your confidence and motivation up.

Determine a larger milestone you’d like to reach in the next six months or year, and divide it into smaller checkpoints that you can meet and that are reachable.

Conclusion

Launching your startup is a truly exciting time. With so much to think about and to get ready for, it’s common for some new business owners to make really detrimental mistakes on the financial front. Financial management for startups is something you don’t want to neglect.

Consider our advice for startups to help you start strong, and watch your business grow from there. If you make sure to do everything possible to set yourself and your business up properly in the beginning, you’re sure to have a successful and prosperous future ahead.

5 Reasons to Avoid Cheap Logo Design

Many of us, at some point in our lives, have bought a cheap product or a dupe of an expensive one. Following that, many of us also have experienced how these cheap products fail to deliver after a short period of time making it a complete waste of money. Well, same goes for design and logos. Your brand isn’t something to joke around with, and certainly your business isn’t either. Logos are representations of your values and if it looks cheap, then you know how that message will come across.

Here are the reasons why you should avoid a cheap logo design:

1.     You get what you pay for

A cheap price comes with a cost. Fast and convenient isn’t always the solution and anything worth having is worth investing your time and yes, money. Your cheap logo could seriously damage your brand, In a world where image is critical.

 2.     Ineffective branding

Amateurs who offer logos for a cheap price don’t really have a grasp on what they’re doing. Most of the time, they’re just there to make a quick buck and not really get into the dirty and most important details of your brand. When this is the case, they will just slap on whatever feels cute, right, or easy and say that it’s done. This may leave a question mark on people’s faces and they might conclude that you’re having some sort of identity crisis. Your company’s branding will get the brunt of this mishap and may affect your overall communication with the audience.

 3.     You lose trust and credibility

Let’s face it: anything that looks cheap and tacky immediately turns us off. We switch off the trust button and don’t look back. This is not a good way to represent or start your business.

 4.     Unintelligent process

The process of making a logo should be an enjoyable one because through this, you discover your company’s identity and values. Turning over your logo to an amateur loses this process of self-discovery because who will invest this time for a cheap cost?

5.     Unauthentic

Paying for a cheap logo design comes with a lot of consequences, but nothing is more embarrassing than finding out yours is a dupe or mock of another logo from another company. You may find this out soon or along the line and by then it could be too late and you now look like that dude who copies others’ success. Damage control can only do so much and you’ll end up paying a lot more than you originally intended to.

It’s quite easy to understand why you have to avoid going for a cheap design! Fast fixes aren’t usually worth it in the end. Besides, if you treat your business like your baby, then you know that it is something worth investing in.

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Business Cards Are NOT dead

In this digital age, it’s so easy to forget that we once relied on the solid power of pen and paper to get our message across. In business, you can say the same; however, there are some things that are irreplaceable and those that still matter. An example of which are business cards.

Here are 5 reasons why the business card is still a crucial thing to have and why, at all times, you should have at least two of it with you.

 1.     The business card is a part of your brand

When you meet someone, you want that person to remember you. A business card helps you to achieve that—with it, you won’t be just another name floating around hoping to be remembered. The business card is a physical representation of who you are and what your brand is.

First impressions are always important when it comes to first meetings, either in casual or business settings. However, business encounters should be more professional than the former. In this setting, you should always remember that you carry your brand more than anything else and that you represent your company. Giving a business card to someone is a great follow through of your brand and a unique icebreaker, especially if the card is exceptionally designed. Make your card stand out by creating and printing them in a unique way that will give it an edge.

 2.     Business cards are more personal

Business networking is all about making connections. Digital swapping of contacts is more a casual thing and you tend to forget what happened after that. There is nothing more personal than genuinely talking to a person, giving them your business card, and sealing the meet with a handshake. It is a euphoric feeling for entrepreneurs knowing that they’ve made a potential partner or friend in the business.

 3.     We cannot depend on memory

Sometimes, our memory fails us and we tend to forget even the most important details. Having a business card on hand is always a good thing because it’s very accessible and you could easily give it out. Some of the people we meet outside of work may potentially be some of the most important partners you could ever find, so don’t let anything slip and hand over and ask for a business card.

 4.     Business cards get shared

A genuine network connection makes for a fond memory, but a creative business card gets shared around. It is a great marketing tool for ensuring that your business is here and not to be forgotten.

 5.     Having a business card means you are professional and prepared

Having one with you at all times means that you mean business and that you are prepared. The next person you might meet may be a potential lead; don’t look unprepared by giving him your phone number or writing it down on a piece of paper. Always have a card in hand because it shows that you are dedicated to your work and you are prepared to conquer the day.

No matter how digital our society may be, you can never really replace the value that a business card holds. It has an innate quality that has long been accepted by all those working for something. Never underestimate the power of a business card and the passion that goes behind it.

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