(This post was first published at the Polaris Marketing and Business Solutions blog on 7/18/2012.)
One of the best ways to get a fresh start, or establish your name and presence in your industry is to update your corporate logo. It gives people an instantly identifiable image that people associate with you, your product, and your services.
Creating a logo, though, can run into the hundreds, and for many small businesses – especially start-ups – that’s just not a cost they can swallow. Even those among us who are not designers in any way will take to rudimentary paint programs, or even word processors to create their logo.
Thank goodness there are a few decent and affordable options available on the web right now. Here I review three of them, Logomaker.com, Logoease.com and Logogarden.com. I’ll show you the existing logo for my company, Polaris Marketing and Business Solutions, and how I updated it using each program. I may even keep one! (We are in the process of re-designing the website, I will post information about the re-launch here!)
When you first get to Logomaker.com’s logo tool, you’re directed to choose an icon group. I chose “Consulting, Business”. Then, in trying to come close to my existing logo, I clicked on “Abstract Icons”, though you have the choice of “Symbol Based Icons” or “Letter Based Icons” as well.
Once you have an icon selected, the logo tool is very easy to use. There are a limited number of fonts, but most of them are serviceable. You can rotate, resize and change colors on your icon as well as any text you add. The big problem with Logomaker is that you apparently have to use larger fonts to make them useable on any website in low-res. Here is the preview I saw in Logomaker.com’s tool:
Here is the logo link that I received from them. As you can see, the resolution is so low that thinner fonts are unusable, even on the web.
Here are their terms and conditions for logo use.
“Free Web-Ready Logo. Users understand that the Free Web-Ready Logo is for use on the internet and should not be used in printing or other channels. LogoMaker retains the rights to the logo and does not transfer the logo rights to the user until the logo is purchased by the user. Users must use the logo code as it is provided and should not alter the code in any way. User understands that the Free Web-Ready logo contains an embedded direct link to LogoMaker and/or one of its sister sites. This link is to remain embedded in the logo and should not be altered or removed.”
Price to buy the logo in hi-res and use for print: $49.
Conclusion: If you’re just playing around with ideas for your new logo, this is a good place to go. The icons are nice and professional, and the tool is easy to use.
The first thing I’ll recommend is that you create an account first on Logoease.com. I didn’t, and after I’d already created my logo I’d lost my design when I tried to save it.
In Logoease.com’s tool, you start by picking an image category. As with the other tools, I selected “Abstract”, but there are options like “Household”, “Compass”, “Animal”. After looking through “Abstract” for a while, I came across the “Various” option, and I found a reasonable icon there.
The tool is much like other tools, except here you get to enter up to five lines of text, instead of the typical two. You have the ability to resize, rotate and color, but some of the fonts seemed like odd choices (to me) for a logo. Either way, there are a few straightforward fonts, so getting something for a professional service isn’t really a problem. When you’re done, they send you a link for download. There don’t seem to be any restrictions on how you use the logo, or any arguments over rights. Here’s the logo I created with Logoease.com:
Conclusion: While some of the icons and fonts are a little goofy, you get a real 300 dpi, full-color logo for free with no restrictions.
As with Logomaker.com, in Logogarden.com’s tool, you start by selecting your industry. I selected “Marketing and Communications”. Here again I was given a choice between the marketing and communications icons, or I could also select “Letters” or “Abstract”. Logogarden.com seems to have a bigger selection of abstract icons – 17 pages with 24 on each page. I found one that was useful, and probably the closest to my current logo than I’d found on any of the others. Once you go into their design tool, you’ll see that they, too, only give you two lines of text. However, there are options that aren’t available in the other tools like “Shine”, “Reflect” and “Shadow”. Also, you have the ability to stretch the original image, which I couldn’t do in the other programs. When I was done, I clicked on “Download”, and I had the low-res image. I didn’t see any use restrictions on the low-res image when I downloaded it.
When you download your logo, logogarden.com will immediately send you to a place where they generate a mock-up of a website and business cards, whether you want them or not. The first time I tried to download the logo, the delay to get to the next screen took so long that I decided to go back and re-submit my design. When I did, I lost the design. This might be another site where your best strategy is to create an account first before you do any logo design.
Here’s the logo I made with Logogarden.com:
Price to buy the hi-res logo: Regular $69, on sale now for $19.
Conclusion: Logogarden.com has a robust logo design tool, and the free low-res logo, along with their current sale price and lack of use restrictions, makes this an attractive place to go. If they can get the links between their design tool and website sale page to work more reliably, I’d give this website five stars.
All in all, it’s nice to know that there’s finally a place for the solopreneur, or the cash-strapped company, to go for corporate re-branding on a budget. As always, a professional designer can give you a logo that more closely fits the identity that you want to portray. However, it might not be a bad idea to play around on one of these tools first before approaching a designer, so they’re not starting completely from scratch.