Creating a logo and other design elements to use on business cards, your website, and marketing materials is an important part of communicating what you offer to potential clients. Ann Monteith explains how to create a marketing design style in this excerpt from the Professional Photographer's Guide to Marketing Success from Marathon Press.
This excerpt from The Professional Photographer's Guide to Marketing Success is provided courtesy of Marathon Press. To purchase the book and learn more about the publisher, visit the Marathon Press website.
Once you are satisfied that you have built a strong business identity that lends support to your business concept, you are ready to give shape to that identity by crafting your marketing design style, which includes the creation of your logo as well as other key identity and marketing-design elements.
Designing Your Studio Identity
A well-designed business logo is the first step in creating a marketing style that is capable of attracting the attention of your ideal client. Unless you possess a strong graphic design background, turn this job over to a qualified design professional—one who understands the intricacies of creating an effective logo that can be modified for a variety of uses.
In order to work with a designer successfully, you must communicate your needs and desires as clearly as possible. Following are some topics to consider and then discuss with your designer:
- Your logo should reflect your business concept, and its design should appeal to the type of clientele you are seeking to impress.
- Your goal should be to create a logo that will last over time, so be very careful about using the latest trendy font, as it doesn’t take long for most trends to be considered old-fashioned.
- Identify any unique features about your business or its name that might be translated into a graphic presentation of your logo, then explain these to the designer.
- Because photography is what you sell, ask your designer to resist the temptation to over-design your logo with so many extraneous elements that it calls attention to itself and away from your photography.
- Make sure that all logo elements can be read or understood when reduced in size.
- The most flexible logo is one that can fit into both horizontal and vertical spaces without having to be reduced beyond legibility.
- A good test of a logo’s readability is whether or not it could be used as signage. If passersby can read your sign, then your logo will be easy to read when placed in marketing materials.
- Make sure your logo looks good when it is rendered in black and white before you move on to adding color. There will be times when your logo will appear in a publication or ad that uses only one color of ink.
Presenting Additional Studio Information
The logo design process should take into account more than just your business name, since it typically will appear with some or all of the following informational elements: business address, area code and phone number, and website address.
Decide if you intend for a slogan or tag line to be part of your logo or merely presented with it. This will allow your designer to suggest an appropriate font for the slogan or tag line.
A wordmark is a subset of a logo and refers to the use of type to identify a business brand or subbrand, a business campaign, or a business product or service.
As with a logo, make sure that the type style and color scheme chosen for the wordmark is appropriate for the style of photography and its target market audience. Don’t overuse wordmarks, or you’ll risk diluting the strength of your brand by confusing clients about your identity. In the example below, a wordmark is used to introduce and brand the studio’s new black-and-white line of photography.
Marketing Design Style
Once you are satisfied with your black-and-white logo design, the next step is to decide how to express it in color. It’s important for your designer to see the style of your photography before he or she suggests colors that are appropriate for expressing your studio identity. Start with two colors—one darker and one lighter—to achieve sufficient visual contrast. You can create a great deal of design variety through the use of two colors plus black and white, as you can see from the examples below, created by Lori Nordstrom Studio in Waterloo, Iowa.
If your studio offers several product lines directed toward decidedly different market segments, consider using color and design variations that are appropriate for the specific markets. For example, the presentation folder on the left below is used for clients of Tim and Beverly Walden’s more classically styled portraiture, while the folder on the right is designed for its senior portrait clients.
Working with a Designer
Communication is the key to working effectively with a graphic designer. When creating a logo or other design elements, most graphics professionals will provide several options for you to evaluate. It’s fairly common not to like everything about the initial designs you receive. Should this be the case, remember that the only thing that counts is that you like the finished product! Zeroing in on a design is a process, and that process is most efficient when you can explain to the designer, as clearly as possible, what you liked about the designs, and what you didn’t like. This will help the designer to come up with a logo and design style that is perfect for your business.
Don’t Get Bored with Your Design Style
As your business grows and changes, it’s possible to outgrow your logo, tag lines, slogan, and sometimes even your business name. Before you start to tinker with any of these elements, however, determine exactly what’s going wrong with your identity. Is the logo out-of-date? Has your business concept changed? Is there a lack of design unity among different aspects of your business identity? When you find these types of problems, then it probably is time to re-brand your business. Just make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of getting bored with a perfectly good logo and design style. Because photographers are creative people, they sometimes get bored easily and want to move on to something new. So it’s important not to let boredom cancel out the brand equity and market recognition that a still-effective logo and design style have achieved.