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The Comprehensive Guide to Small Business Logo and Identity

The Comprehensive Guide to Small Business Logo and Identity

By: VentureHow Staff Writer

Updated on: May 19, 2021


Small business logo and identity

The Comprehensive Guide to Small Business Logo and Identity

Does Your Small Business Need a Logo and Identity?

When you first dreamed up the idea for your small business, you probably thought a lot about who your customers would be and what problem you could solve that would make your product or service of value to them. What you may not have spent so much time on at that stage of the game is your company brand and logo.

Why Logos are Important to Small Business Owners and Why You Need One to Survive and Thrive in a Competitive Marketplace.

Business and marketing experts agree that logos for small businesses should brand their companies with a captivating identity that is consistent and compelling across all marketing platforms. But what exactly does that mean, and where do you start? Perhaps most importantly, what can a brand and logo accomplish for your business?

With a consistent brand and logo, a small business can achieve the following fundamental hallmarks of a successful business:

Establish Yourself as Credible, Committed, and Professional

A good logo and branding materials will help you convey to your customers that your business has been around for the long haul. It shows commitment and stability and inspires brand trust and loyalty.

When you hand out marketing materials that are printed on perforated card stock on a home printer, you may seem somewhat business-oriented—but you likely don’t make your customer feel that you will still be around next week.  When a customer chooses to hire you, they want to feel that you’ll be there to provide the customer service they expect.

When you display confidence and professionalism in your logo and brand identity, your customers will feel the same about your business.

Grab Your Customer’s Attention and Communicate a Message

Your small business needs a logo so you can foster and brand and identity that goes beyond you. You want your customers to think of you as a reliable business with the resources to make things happen for them—not a sole proprietor that takes odd jobs to get by.

Customers will always judge things based on appearance. When they are searching for a business to solve their current problem, they will look for and hire a company that feels “right” to them. You need to appeal to their emotions by establishing yourself as a trustworthy, compatible brand that can bring value to their lives.

Make a Lasting Impression that Converts Window Shoppers into Buyers

In “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking,” marketing expert Malcolm Gladwell tells us that  “buyers make most decisions by relying on their two-second first impressions based on stored memories, images, and feelings.”

Two seconds.

That’s a pretty tight window.

To take full advantage of that two-second opportunity, your business needs a brand that will make a lasting impression and a logo that resonates—one that doesn’t send your potential customers out the door looking for their next two-second fix. So, how do you make that happen?

  • Create graphics that establish empathy. Empathy happens when your customers feel something deeply about your brand, and when they recognize that your business can solve a problem for them.
  • Maintain brand consistency across all marketing materials. Once you’ve drawn them in, you need to keep reminding your customers who you are. By keeping that logo and brand consistent on everything from your business cards to your website and even your Facebook page, your customers will feel that they can trust the information you are presenting.
  • Give customers what they expect. In that two-second window, customers want to find what they are looking for without trying too hard. They expect to find a business that is confident, established, and professional—and with those expectations comes the expectation of seeing a company logo and identity.

Not every business needs an identity…perhaps you’re one of those businesses that don’t need a logo—like an Uber contractor or an eBay seller. Not every business is trying to succeed in a competitive marketplace where countless other businesses are competing for the same customers.

But if you’re not operating under someone else’s logo and brand identity, chances are you’re in the trenches alongside countless other businesses just like yours…and a compelling, consistent brand logo and identity can help you set your business apart and establish enduring brand loyalty and trust that will keep your customers coming back for the long haul.

Where Can I Get My Logo Designed For My Small Business?

So, you have your product or service ready to sell, your website is reserved, and your business name is available as an LLC. The only thing you’re missing is your brand identity and with it a logo to help your business look professional and stand apart from the masses.

You’ve probably heard that having a professionally designed logo can be expensive—as in the $1000’s-of-dollars-kind of expensive. A price tag like that can be cost prohibitive for most small business start-ups, so it’s a good thing there are other options.  The problem is, some of those ultra-cheap logo design and logo service providers are pretty terrible, and you should avoid them at all costs. It all depends on the level of quality you are looking for, and ultimately, if you like to gamble.

Whether you want to deal online or locally, here are the three most popular options for logo design solutions in the small business marketplace today:

Crowd Sourcing


Often considered the bane of the design world, crowdsourcing can be an inexpensive solution for a business owner that likes multiple (and by multiple, we mean dozens!) of options.

When you crowdsource your logo design project, you are signing your future business logo up for a worldwide design contest. To that end, you’re gambling with whatever package retainer you sign up for—because if you don’t like at least one of the 100 logos that designers generate during the “contest,” you’ll lose your investment—and you’re stuck with a logo that you probably aren’t in love with.

Price range

The better (read—the only ones who’ve been in business for a while) crowdsource sites require retainers that start at $299 and can go up to $1299 or more.

Pros and cons


  1. Super affordable
  2. Quick, streamlined implementation
  3. Wide range of choices
  4. Trustworthy brand
  5. Countless perspectives


  1. No client/designer relationship
  2. Too many options
  3. Not local
  4. Limited file types

Bottom Line: For small business start-ups on a limited budget, sites like 99designs and crowdSPRING can come through by making logo design an affordable option. But if you’re working on a long-term project with many applications—or if you are an established business with specific cross-platform needs—you may want to look for a graphic design partner in the local market.

Local Graphic Designers


When you work with an online logo design site, the human on the other end of your internet connection probably won’t have the local knowledge of your business or industry—and, since they get paid peanuts per short-term project, they likely won’t know (or care) what your comprehensive, long-term marketing strategy is.

A local graphic designer, on the other hand, can provide tremendous value for your brand and business goals over the long term. Unlike an online vendor, a local designer will have a unique understanding of the demographics, social mores, and cultural norms that you need to consider when establishing how your business fits into your local marketplace.

You can find a talented and reasonably priced local designer simply by asking other local businesses who they use. Check the online yellow pages for local listings, attend a few community networking events, and consult your local chamber of commerce for recommendations.

These considerations can make or break whether your logo works in one application and not in another over the long-term. For example, a logo that looks incredible on your website may be completely unusable on a business card. It takes a seasoned professional or a graphic design student to make those determinations.

If you choose to go local but want to stay on a budget, you can keep costs down by hiring a student designer who is looking to build up their portfolio.  This can be a mutually beneficial solution if the client/designer relationship is the right fit. After all, when that student becomes a full-time professional, you will be one of their most long-term clients!

Price range

A student designer typically charges around $50 per hour, but you can often find less-experienced designers for about $30. Plan on the project taking between 8-20 hours, depending on complexity.

A professional designer typically starts around $1000…and from there; the sky’s the limit.

Pros and cons


  1. Face-to-face relationship
  2. Investment in your long-term business strategy
  3. Local knowledge
  4. Prices are negotiable


  1. Can be expensive, depending on your budget

Bottom Line: Working with a local, professional graphic designer has the long-term benefit of having a designer know your business and cater to your ongoing design needs.

Automated Logo Software


For businesses with small budgets and a need for speed, automated software might be the way to go. These programs put you through a type of design quiz that essentially asks you to choose your preferences based on font types or symbols. And that’s because the ultimate design is based primarily on text and basic universal graphics—so there isn’t much in the way of customization if that’s what you’re ultimately after.

For small business owners who are looking for a simple, professional logo without fully customized bells and whistles, automated logo software might be able to provide the necessary outcome. The best part about these services, though, is that they are free to try—you only pay when you’re ready to purchase.

At the very least, automated logo software is fun to explore as a potential option and to give you some free ideas of what your logo will look like on t-shirts, coffee mugs, letterhead, and business cards. Be warned, however, that you will have to set up a user account to view your designs—but that’s a small price to pay for the experience of seeing your business’ name on a coffee cup.

Price range

Starting at $24, you can buy file size upgrades that increase your final bill (expect to spend around $99 for the most expensive bundles).

Pros and cons


  1. Streamlined process
  2. Translatability across a variety of apps
  3. Clichés-free for the longevity of the design


  1.  Branding strategy is non-existent
  2. The long-term impression is lacking
  3. May not consider customer demographics

Bottom Line: If you are a small business on a budget and you’re looking for a relatively simple design that translates easily across media, Tailor and LogoMaker both do a decent job of making that happen.

What Elements Of Corporate Identity Should A Small Business Have?

brand is a set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another. Seth Godin

Many small business owners tend to overlook the importance of establishing a corporate identity. They make the mistake of deciding that a company logo and a business-card-style website are enough to establish an effective presence in today’s competitive marketplace. The problem is, everyone else is doing the same thing.

So, how can you set your company’s product and service apart from your competitors?

Your Corporate Identity Should Establish Your Company’s Visual Position

Does your company have a comprehensive brand identity that resonates with your customers?

Many small businesses make the mistake of putting all their money and effort into their bright, shiny new logo—and they fall short of establishing what that logo was designed to support: their company’s brand identity. As a small business owner who presumably wants to create an enduring, loyal customer base, you want to include your company logo as an integral part of your business’ ultimate visual position.

Elements of Corporate Identity

Depending on your type of business, the life-stage of your operation, and customer demographics, different elements of your business identity may be more important than others.

  • Business Type

While there is no such thing as having too many ways to promote your business, certain elements of corporate identity can provide more value than others.

If you conduct your business primarily online, a favicon is probably going to be a much wiser investment than a box of business cards.  Likewise, if you are establishing the brand for a local landscaping company, an eye-catching, professional business card or door hanger will likely provide a better ROI.

  • Customer Demographics

If you’re starting, you may be making a lot of face-to-face business calls. This is where having a business card will be mandatory. Telling a potential client to look you up online is not always the best way to establish a trusted relationship—especially if that client is of the pre-internet generation, where a handshake and a personalized business card can make or break a deal for them.

On the flip side, if your ideal customer is a twenty-something college grad who’s constantly glued to their smartphone, telling them that your business doesn’t have a Facebook account will likely make you invisible to them.

To make the best use of your advertising dollars, considering these tips when establishing your corporate identity:

Components of Corporate Identity

  • What’s in a Name? Make sure the name you are considering (or the one you are about to invest in!) is appropriate for your client base, easy to remember, and has long-term customer appeal. When considering what goes into your company name, it is important to be brutally honest with yourself—and maybe even seek out the help of a third party for an unbiased opinion.

A name that has tremendous meaning for you may not resonate with your customers—especially if the name doesn’t fit with your product or service. Check out these tips for choosing a name that will work for your business now and in the years to come. If you’re an already established business, pay special attention to #8.

  • Logo or Wordmark. A logo is a graphic symbol that customers come to associate with your company’s brand. A wordmark is a certain combination of words and typeface that represent your company, product, or service.

Consistency is key in establishing components of corporate identity, especially concerning logos and wordmarks. Both logos and wordmarks are components of corporate identity that are necessary to convey your brand, company longevity, and professionalism. Using graphics and carefully chosen font and typeface for your company brand means customers can establish a sense of loyalty toward a brand that they recognize and trust.

  • Style and Color Theme.

When choosing the color scheme and font style for your business materials, it is important to think in terms of how the two work together and the overall tone they will set for customer perception of your brand.

Color choice has the potential to express your brand’s values and attributes as well as enhancing the brand recognition of your product or service. It probably wouldn’t be wise to choose a neon pink color theme for your estate planning business, even if it happens to be your favorite color. Consider color as a messenger for your company’s emotional state, and choose wisely.

The typeface that you choose can also set the tone for how your customers perceive your company. For example, a light, bubbly font wouldn’t be appropriate for a tax law firm—but it would work very well for a daycare center.

  • Tagline. The tagline’s role is to communicate the company’s unique selling proposition, or USP, whether it is a benefit, an advantage, or a point of distinction over all other brands and competitors.

powerful tagline can speak volumes about your company’s brand—and it can mean the difference between whether a customer remembers you and feels a sense of loyalty, or whether they keep on window shopping.

  • Favicon for Your Website.  Favicons are small icons associated with your business’ URL when a user opens your site in their browser, or if they save your website as a shortcut or a bookmark.

While favicons may be small, their effect can be quite large. Having a recognizable favicon associated with your website can mean the difference between a user finding your site easily and returning to it, or ending up with another business altogether. A favicon gives your website polish and a sense of completeness as well as an overall sense of credibility in an increasingly competitive online business climate.

Favicons are extremely important if you have a website or conduct any business online, and if you want to stay connected with your internet-browsing customers—and these days, who doesn’t?

  • Business Cards and Other Print Materials. It may seem old-school, but for many small business owners, having their business cards printed up with their company logo, phone number, and website can seem like a monumental milestone: their business is now “official.”

These days, many small businesses likely get that same sense of pride when they launch their new website or have their business show up in an online search, but there’s no doubt about it: no matter what the world of technology tells us, business cards and print marketing materials aren’t going anywhere.  And if they convey the right message, print materials displayed in the right setting can speak volumes about a business—volumes that the internet can’t compete with.

These days, a business can’t get very far without the right logo—but to make that logo work for you, you need to develop certain components of corporate identity that establish and differentiate your business from the competition. In an increasingly online marketplace, many small businesses stop at having a website—but to make an impression, a business should consider having a well-rounded marketing portfolio that includes a logo, website, and various print advertising materials. To bring it all together, be sure to consider the important elements of color choice and style to set a compelling visual and emotional tone for your brand across all your marketing materials.

What graphic design Elements are essential to a Logo?

“If, in the business of communications, ‘image is king,’ the essence of this image, the logo, is the jewel in its crown.” –Graphic design guru Paul Rand

Every business that wants to compete in today’s marketplace needs to have a compelling logo that showcases the company brand and inspires customer trust, confidence, and loyalty.

That’s a tall order for a single graphics.

With so much weight on an individual image, it is important to consider certain elements of a logo to guide your design and development.

Essential Elements of a Logo

  1. Make your logo unforgettable. One of the key hallmarks of an effective logo is its ability to make the buyer recall its basic elements after just a glance.

If your logo has too many moving parts or is overly complex and excessively stylized, it will be a challenge for your buyer to grasp in a meaningful way. If “getting” your logo takes too much effort on your customer’s behalf, they will easily forget you.

As with all first impressions, when it comes to logos, you have very little time to make a lasting one—so your logo needs to have an impact and inspire empathy and understanding in your customers.

  1. Simplicity is king.The most effective logos are the ones that give your buyer a distinct sense of who you are. Clean, organized, and uncluttered graphics and typeface make a logo more impactful. When you use a logo on many platforms, the fine details are often lost.  The strongest elements of a logo will contribute to the buyer’s overall clarity, so the fewer “strong” elements, the better.
  2. Don’t be a copycat. Google is your friend when it comes to brainstorming in business. When you begin the logo thought process, do a few local and national searches of your industry and your competitors to see who comes up first in the SERP—and take great pains to avoid looking just like them.

Likewise, check out the logos of the companies you really can’t stand and would never want to emulate—and make an even greater effort to avoid posturing your logo that way.

It is also a good idea to avoid trying to make your logo look like a national company brand—for example, if you are starting up a burger slinging joint named “McCallum’s,” it is probably pretty wise to steer clear of using the big-double-yellow-arch as your symbol. To some, this might seem like a quick way of getting attention—but that attention will be fleeting once your customers realize that you are riding on the coattails of someone else’s identity.

  1. Make it timeless but in keeping with the times. You want your logo to be modern as in “fresh” but maybe not “modern” as in mid-century furniture. There is a difference, and it’s an important one.

If your logo is overly trendy and super “hot” by today’s standards, it might not be so great five years from now—and if your logo looks outdated, your customers will assume your company is behind the eight ball.

Keeping stylistic details moderate when it comes to the relevant characteristics that define the overall essence of your logo means that when you are reaping the benefits of your hard work a few years down the road, you won’t have to reinvent yourself to stay relevant.

  1. Make it transferable and versatile. You are spending your hard-earned time and money on this thing, so make it work for you! To get the best bang for your buck, you want your logo to be transferable across all platforms. Consider the different applications and products you plan to blast your logo on and make sure it works for each of them.

Check out automated logo generators like Tailor and Logomaker to get ideas of what your logo might look like on a t-shirt or a coffee cup.

  1. Make sure your logo is locked up and in a good way.Your graphics and typeface should complement one another. If your graphic is animated and contemporary, don’t contradict it with a typeface that is traditional and rigid. Even if you plan to use the items separately, they should work together when they are sharing the same space.

A Few More Pointers:

  • When choosing a font, remember that serif based fonts (think Times New Roman and Bookman Old Style) convey traditionalism and formality, while sans serif gives a more lighthearted and relaxed feel (check out Calibri and Lucida Sans).
  • When deciding on colors, remember that the perception of color and its meaning can be heavily based on cultural preferences. With that said, red conveys love, danger, energy, and emotion. Blue conveys confidence and optimism, and green implies life, outdoors, and money. Yellow means caution and friendliness, while orange imbues productivity and a contemporary vibe. For more on the psychology of color meanings in small business marketing, check out this infographic.

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