When you realize that it’s time for you or your company to have a website, after you’ve secured the domain and hosting space, what’s the next thing you need to focus on? There are so many generic websites out there that all look like each other in one way or another – you need to learn to stand out from the crowd.
You need to design a logo.
A logo is your single-image business card across the web. Any site you sign up for and connect your business to in one way or another needs to be able to display that log in order for you to show that your business is really and truly professional. It takes a twitter account from something generic that anyone could be using to something specific to your business. People recognize businesses and other people by the avatars that they put forth online. As I’ve changed my personal avatar off and on over the years, I’ve gotten several complaints that went along the lines of, “Oh, it’s you! I didn’t recognize you with your new avatar.”
Our avatars – and by extension, our business’ logos, are our way of representing ourselves across the world wide web. They hold out a hand of greeting saying “Hi, here I am, and this is what I do.” Or “Hi, here I am, this is how I see myself.”
I struggled with this concept back in 2009 when I received an assignment in a digital art class to create a logo for either myself or my personal business. As I’d been working as a digital artist off and on for the last ten years or so, I decided that I should finally put a brand on my own personal business. I’d been just branding my artwork with something I thought of as my personal symbol for many years already – the greek letters Delta and Theta with a howling wolf in the middle – but it seemed that it was time to take that to the next level.
I decided to name my business Tygerwolfe Designs – it only seemed appropriate – but then there was the question of what image I wanted to represent me. Obviously I wanted the name of the company in the Logo, but I also wanted something of the wolf that is my inspiration – or perhaps the striped version that is my avatar – to show through in the logo as well. To the right, you can see many of the logos I designed during that class that didn’t make the cut.
Over the years I’ve made several variations upon it – versions in which the wolf is in white, for dark backgrounds, and versions that glow or are transparent for use as watermarks on artwork. But the fact remains that it is a logo, it is unique, and it represents me and my artwork proudly across the web.
That’s part of what makes a logo so important – it defines you. It helps people form that first opinion of you when they visit your site or are handed your business card. You also can’t go around redesigning your logo more than once every few years – look at the big companies. Look at Apple. Who sees Apple’s logo and doesn’t know who that is? Who sees Microsoft’s Windows and has no idea what that is? Logos penetrate the public psyche. They’re recognized even when the words are removed. They become iconic – iconic icons that tell people exactly who a company is with nothing but a little image. Some day, I might be able to just use the outline wolf from my logo and drop the words entirely and still be just as recognized. But until then, I have to admit that I still like the logo that I designed in 2009 – I will be forever grateful to that teacher for putting us through that exercise.
A logo is just as personal as an avatar – but where an avatar is personal to you, a logo is personal to your business. Make up something that shows what you’re about, that will be recognizable to the world as your company with your mission statement. A logo doesn’t have to be something abstract. A logo can even be just words – I considered that for a time. For instance, Google was once just a colorful nonsense word, and now look at what it means. Google is a dynasty across the technology world, heading toward joining Apple and Microsoft at the top of the game – if they aren’t there already. And their logo is nothing but their name and primary colors. If your business has a unique name, then use it! Be creative, stand out, and above all – be memorable.
Logos can’t be too busy – if you look at some of my failed logo designs you’ll see that is why they failed. The bottom right corner one is the worst for that. The skull and hand-paw print make it far too busy. If I was going to go with that logo, I’d have been better to stick with just the Delta/Theta – except that there are many variations of that symbol out there, and I have no more claim to it than anyone else. It’s a personal symbol for those with the belief in therianthropy – however, it’s fine to include it in a design the way some Christians include a cross symbol or a fish symbol in their logos – it tells others that you are like them.
I didn’t end up using the Delta/Theta in my final design, though I do still consider it a personal symbol.
What about you? What stands out about your company? What will you choose to represent yourself and your company online? As long as it’s something you love, then it’s probably going to be great.