Starting a new business selling something that you make? I already know that you are exhausted. Thinking about what your product will be, how it will look, user testing, and all of the things that go along with launching a new business are exhausting. I know that once you get past all of that stuff you are ready to see something pretty right! You want to slap a beautiful logo on it and call it a day.
I am sorry to say, that would be the worst thing you can do as a creative entrepreneur. There are a few things that you need to do before getting to the visual identity of your brand.
Set A Budget
If you are in the market for a new logo for your handmade business it’s important to find a designer or agency that will work within your budget. However don’t expect to get agency level work from a website selling logos for five bucks. Just please don't be cheap. You really do get what you pay for.
I know that a lot of startups don’t have a very robust budget but I really feel that investing in a quality designer or small agency will be your best long term strategy. I have seen so many small startups that rebrand within the first few years because they went with a DIY or Fiverr option. Rebranding is even more expensive in the long run than just doing it right the first time.
Can you imagine being a large established company and having to replace all of your marketing collateral, fleet cars, signage, interiors...everything, because you didn’t effectively design a logo 40 years prior.
Strategy First Always
Creating a logo for your handmade business is an essential part of your brand strategy but it’s not all of it.
Your logo is just the visual representation of your strategy and it helps your customers understand your company. It makes people pay attention to you. It grabs their attention and communicates to them what you are all about, and entices them to join. A logo is your companies first impression of your business to your customers. It sets the tone of every interaction after, and either binds them to you, or sends them looking elsewhere. A really well designed logo can build loyalty and followers and give you a polished and professional appearance.
Developing a visual identity for your brand is one of the most critical investments you can make. It’s for sure not something to be taken lightly. It’s important that you hire a professional. Someone with knowledge and experience will ensure that you get a logo and visual identity that is done right the first time.
No one should have to experience the frustration of creating a brand without clarity, direction, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing you don't have to go through it alone. I always begin a project by clarifying and uncovering the innermost business workings of a company. Any brand designer or freelance designer should do this first before taking the plunge into developing a new logo. They should be able and willing to discover the who, what, where, and why; then, together, we can engage the right audience with authentic content and a memorable visual identity and logo.
Before you design a logo you should know these things:
1. Who is your target Audience?
When I ask this question to many of my clients they often will say, “everyone” or some other generic answer. Really to be an effective business owner you need to really get your customers. It’s important to know who they are. What they feel. What brings them joy. What their pain points are and why they get out of bed each morning. What do they eat for breakfast and who do they work for. You really really really need to understand you your target audience is in order to effectively communicate with them. And part of communicating with your customers is speaking their visual language, Ie. your logo.
2. What is your unique selling proposition
I like Entrepreneurs definition of what a unique selling proposition is… It says,
“The factor or consideration presented by a seller as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of the competition”
It’s easy to fall into a trap and choose characteristics of your business that simply describe what you do rather than what really sets you apart. And it’s just as easy to choose characteristics that are so common in the marketplace that they produce no fruit. Examples include: “we make the best...,” “I have a proprietary process....” and “the best customer service.” Make these reasons truly unique and showcase those reasons with a truly unique visual identity and logo mark.
3. Who are you competing against?
Who is your biggest competitor? Why are they your biggest competitor? Do you do something better than them or offer a better service? What does their visual identity look like? Having a really good understanding of who your competitors are give you an advantage and will help you when you create your visual identity. Visually setting yourself apart from your competition is super valuable.
4. What are your core values?
What does your company stand for? Your core values are the beliefs that drive your company. Mine are Relationships, Good Design, Adventure, and the Handmade. They are the guiding principles of your business and your behavior. They help you with your business choices and help you reach your goals.
5. If someone asked you what you do, how would you respond?
Ever gotten on an elevator and sparked up a conversation with someone and they ask you what you do? Yes and that person was either hooked in the first 30 seconds of speaking with you and asked you for a business card or they said, “cool, good luck!” Your elevator pitch is just as important as your logo.
DIY or Hire
Ok, so depending on what kind of budget you have set yourself will drive you to choosing the best option for your handmade business:
JUST DONT. Don't.
Something like Fiverr, Staples, or Vistaprint should never ever be an option, ever. You get what you pay for. These services are often set at pre set price points and usually are created by offshore designers or hobby designers (they are designers because they have design software) There may be quality designers that use these but be very careful you may not be getting who you think you are. Also, be aware that you might be getting plagiarized work. Paying 5-20 bucks for a logo isn’t a good option.
A logo contest consists of asking other designers for a logo design and only one winner is awarded an “award” but these are bad ideas for a few reasons. What designer do you know that has time to do a project without payment and invest his time designing a logo without guaranteed income. Some designers will plagiarize to save money so avoid spec work at all costs.
This is where most mall handmade businesses should be looking for a quality logo design. Vetting the agency will help you choose the right one and most likely you will get quality work and your budget will still be intact. Always ask friends for referrals first, but choosing a freelancer is always an option for smaller budgets. Building a quality relationship with your designer promises that you will get what you need and stay in budget. Be aware too that the amount of experience will affect the cost and quality of work. Make sure to do your homework before hiring a freelancer.
A small studio will allow you to keep a smaller budget and still allow you to get work from a selection of designers. The only drawback is that you will usually work through some kind of project manager instead of directly with the designers. This will cost you $5,000 - $30,000.
Mid Size Agency
You will probably find a better quality of work in a mid size agency but you will also get a larger price-tag. Expect to budget about $7,000-$50,000+
Usually if you went with an agency you can expect to receive much more than just a logo. A branding agency will provide services that help you form the essence of your brand and then walk you through to a visual identity. Expect to get a logo but you will also get the whole shebang. In-depth market research and competitor analysis and so much more. Pretty much you can expect to have a team working on making sure your business is successful from any angle. And this comes at a pretty high price point.
This is what I do for my clients, but because I don't have the huge overhead that most Agencies have I can charge much less.
Heather Bunker Branding Co $5,000-$20,000+
Branding Agency $50,000-$100,000+
Renown Branding Agency $100,000-$1,000,000+
Famous Big Named Designers
Chip Kidd, Linden Leader, Debbie Millman, Milton Glaser, Michael Bierut, Erik Spiekermann, Debbie Millman, Susan Kare. All of these legends come with larger than life price tags too. But one can dream right?!
I once got to meet one of my design heroes in New York City, Ivan Chermayeff.
Using and Protecting Your Logo
Once you have a logo and visual identity developed please trademark it to ensure no one else steals it. You can apply for a trademark at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Website and ensure no one swipes it.
Being a business owner is exhausting and I know but it’s also amazing. You get to set your own hours, make amazing things, meet really cool people and go to some really nice art shows am I right? Starting a new business selling something that you make can be super rewarding. So if you are in the throws of getting started I know you are already exhausted. Keep at it though, you have this! I know that the thought of budgeting, marketing and getting your business established is daunting. You are feeling apprehensive about taking this next big step. I promise though if you can make it through the strategy and internal struggles to the other side, to finally see the light of day and the fruition of your amazing business you will be supercharged and ready to do the necessary things to make your business successful. I hope with all of my heart that you can find a designer or agency that you love, and come up with a beautiful brand identity that you want to share with the world.