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Designing A Logo Make your mark with a memorable business logo.

Before you start designing a business card or picking colors foryour letterhead, you need a logo. Featuring your company name andembellished with a little color and perhaps a few graphic toucheshere and there, your logo is the most important design elementbecause it is the basis for all your other materials: stationery,packaging, promotional materials and signage.

"Through the use of color and graphics, your logo shouldreflect the overall image you want your company to convey,"says Richard Gerstman, founder of Gerstman + Meyers, a brandidentity and marketing consulting firm. "It should give peoplea feel for what your company is all about." For example, sayyour product is an organic facial cream you'll be marketing tohealth-conscious consumers. Your logo should represent yourproduct's best benefits-being all-natural and environmentallysound. Creating a simple, no-nonsense logo using earth tones and aplain typeface will give the impression of a product that is"back to basics," which is exactly what you want toachieve. Take that same product and give it a slick, high-tech lookwith neon colors, however, and people won't associate your logowith the down-to-earth product you're selling.

Logos come in two basic forms: abstract symbols (like the applein Apple Computer) or logotypes, a stylized rendition of yourcompany's name. You can also use a combination of both. AlanSiegel, chairman and CEO of Siegel & Gale, a design firmspecializing in corporate identity, warns that promoting anabstract symbol can prove very costly for a small business on abudget. In addition, he says, such logos are harder to remember."A logotype or word mark is much easier to recall,"Siegel says. If you do use an abstract symbol, Siegel advises,always use it in connection with your business name.

Trying to create a logo on your own may seem like the best wayto avoid the high costs of going to a professional design firm,which will charge anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000 for a logo alone.However, be aware that there are thousands of independent designersaround who charge much less. According to Stan Evenson, founder ofEvenson Design Group, entrepreneurs on a tight budget should shoparound for a designer. "There are a lot of [freelance]designers who charge rates ranging from $15 to $150 per hour, basedon their experience," he says.

But don't hire someone just because of their bargain price.Find a designer who's familiar with your field . . . and withyour competition. If the cost still seems exorbitant, Evenson says,"remember that a good logo should last at least 10 years. Ifyou look at the amortization of that cost over a 10-year period, itdoesn't seem so bad."

Even if you have a good eye for color and a sense of what youwant your logo to look like, you should still consult aprofessional designer. Why? They know whether or not a logo designwill transfer easily into print or onto a sign, while you mightcome up with a beautiful design that can't be transferred orwould cost too much money to be printed. Your logo is thefoundation for all your promotional materials, so this is one areawhere spending a little more now really pays off later.

Excerpted from Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-UpBook You'll Ever Need, by Rieva Lesonsky and the Staff ofEntrepreneur Magazine, © 1998 Entrepreneur Press

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