Entrepreneurs love logos. And why not? A professionally designed corporate logo says to the world that "we've arrived" and are ready for serious business. But it can cost big bucks to make a logo that really works–so you'll want to make sure that you're spending your marketing dollars wisely.

Here are some quick tips:

DO use your company or product name. While there are some abstract logos, like the Chevron V's or the Nike swoosh, that are immediately identifiable, that's because they've been around forever.  Unless you want to spend money to add ornamental artwork to your schtick, get a logo that people can read.

DON'T assume you need something fancy. Logos have more value for companies trying to reach large numbers of consumers than companies trying to reach a small number of other companies.  If you're selling B2B, a fabulous logo isn't going to impress a corporate buyer. In fact, it might make him think that you've got odd priorities.

DO make the logo readable. The point of having a logo is to make your company or product name stick in the customer's mind.  That can only happen if the customer can actually read it, easily, without squinting.  That's especially true if your company depends upon walk-in or drive-by business; signs that people can't read are completely useless.

DON'T expect too much. A logo, or indeed any kind of brand marketing, is wasted money unless you've got a product that people want and have developed a channel to sell that product to those people.  If you don't have the basics in place, you've got no business twiddling around with logos.

DO shop around for a designer.  While a professional agency might charge $5,000 or more to design a logo, a similar service outsourced elsewhere, like in the Philippines, can cost as little as $100.  Is their work just as good?  That depends. Examine the work that each firm has done in the past and decide accordingly. Want really cheap? Here's a free design service.

DON'T get snookered by "market research." Professional design firms sometimes recommend "focus groups" to assess the viability or attractiveness of a new logo.  Focus groups are expensive, time-consuming and no more scientific than flipping a coin. Probably less, in fact. Ultimately, you're going to have to make the call yourself, based on your gut feeling.

And finally ...

DON'T tinker with it. Once you've got a logo, resist the temptation to tweak it.  Such changes are a waste of time because, frankly, most of your customers don't give a bit about your logo. And logo changes can be expensive; DEC, for example, spent several millions just to switch their logo's color from blue to purple.

Overall, the trick with logos is to get the job done quickly and with as little fuss as possible. Then focus on stuff that's more important–like acquiring and retaining customers.

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