Remember the television ad that bombarded your senses with sleek cars, cool graphics, beautiful people — and left you in the dark about the advertiser's message?

A well-designed business logo shouldn't leave potential customers with that kind of confusion. If you're developing a logo for your business, here are three questions to consider.

  • Does it communicate? A business logo should convey information clearly and unequivocally. Customers should not have to guess about the products and services your business provides. They should see your logo — even when racing down the freeway at top speeds — and immediately recognize your company brand. Are you in the business of selling ice cream? Don't make customers wonder whether the image on your logo is an ice cream cone or some sort of architectural anomaly. Do you provide counseling services? Perhaps a name is all that's needed. If you've designed a logo that's even a little confusing, return to the drawing board.
  • Is it useable? Logos may be plastered on a variety of media, from ballpoint pens to coffee mugs to websites to billboards. Because of this, it makes sense to use standard colors and fonts. If the logo displays highlight colors, make sure they're complimentary or contrasting. Keep in mind, also, that your logo may be reproduced in black and white or grayscale. So make sure the logo is legible, even without color. If you're planning to expand outside the United States, avoid colors, designs, or words that may offend or confuse international customers.
  • Does it differentiate? If at all possible, a logo should identify your business as unique. If it too closely mimics a competitor or some other company, consumers may begin to view your firm as a commodity. To set your logo apart, consider incorporating a tag line (an oft-repeated phrase like "just do it!") into the design to reinforce the underlying message.

To create an eye-catching logo as part of an overall marketing strategy, you may want to hire a professional graphic artist. Just be sure to review the artist's portfolio and references, and ask tough questions before committing to any potential design. Logo directories — such as logo-search.com or logoworks.com — can also provide ideas.

A logo will represent your business — positively or negatively — for years to come. It shouldn't be an afterthought, and it shouldn't indulge the whims of the marketing department at the expense of paying customers.

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