LOGO - A GO GO! {Creating a strong photography logo}

** So sorry this is late! I scheduled for 8pm instead of 8am. Thank you Noelle for noticing! **

This week is all about building the biz! And it's something I'm really passionate about - so as you can imagine I'm pretty excited to share some thoughts with you! We will discuss logo's, branding, marketing packaging and more. So grab a cup of hot chocolate (My personal favorite is Stephen's candy cane cocoa with Vanilla Creamer - the kind in the fridge section by the milk. Top that with mini marshmallows - ok I have to just tell you, the best way is to add your mallows and then nuke it for about 20 seconds in the microwave so they get gooey and finish it off with cool whip. Yes I'm that serious about hot chocolate and yes it's positively divine! Oh my goodness, now I have to go make some...) Okay, I'm back to business.

Creating a strong logo is a key component to your business! It falls right in step with branding your business which we will get into later in the week, but do not be confused - they are different! A logo represents or is the identity of your company, where as branding is making an image for your company. Think of a cow (I know - horrible!! Please forgive me but it's the best way I can think of to explain it) the logo is the company it says who - but when that hot iron touches.., well now it's been engraved - or branded.  Today it's about the logo, but I wanted to start by clarifying. Besides your work... this is the second thing people will see and that will speak about who you are. So YES, it's very important! With a business card (for example), they may see the logo before they even see the work. If someone saw JUST your logo, would they want to check you out?

A common question has been; do I design my own or have someone professionally do it for me? In a perfect world a fab designer would research you and your business get a feel of who you are and design something equally fabulous in accordance! In your world it might not (and for sure not in mine) fit the budget? If you are comfortable leaving a couple hundred behind (thats about how much the good photography ones cost) and you're not feeling particularly creative or efficient in CS then I would advise you to invest. Having an outsider look at your work and your style and with that create something to fit you and your business is going to give a fresh perspective, add to that fact - this is what they do... and your chances of a successful logo design are much higher! There are some great designers that I would have loved to work with... but I'm on the other end of the rainbow, the one missing the gold. So I had one option - DIY it! So what's important to think about when creating a logo? Well - I'm so glad you asked! ;)

First. What makes a good logo? A good logo is instantly recognizable, it stands apart from other logos in the same field. It portrays the style of it's company and creates a sense of trust and loyalty. A good logo falls right in line with the style of the business it represents.

What makes a bad logo? To much trend often make for bad logos because it dates your business, when the trend is gone then your business suddenly becomes outdated and lets face it - who wants to be last years milk? A good rule is to avoid trendy fonts, secondly avoid too much detail that just detracts from the name. Last avoid over stylizing unless you are sure you're sure! Too much in one direction can leave you with no expanding options. For example if you're a budding baby photographer and you create this adorable logo with a baby and then 7 months from now decide to venture into Seniors, well that logo is going to look pretty silly next to a Senior Brochure!

When choosing a logo - you need to first decide the style of your photography and thus the style of your design. Do you gravitate to color, grunge, retro, romantic? How would you describe your photography style. Next you need to pick a color pallet. Now you have a better idea of what might be appropriate for you! Next you'll want something that can transition easily from your signature watermark stamp, to the logo on your business card to the logo on your brochures, forms and everything else. Now that you have an appropriate genre and you're thinking versatility, make it memorable. Let it stand out from the crowd... And remember, standing out does not mean that you have to abandon simplicity. Look at the Channel or Target logo, both ridiculously simple and yet they each pack a punch!

Finding / Designing / Creating that perfect logo takes creating a lot of wrong logos first! These are only a few of the logo's that I designed for myself once I committed to yellows and browns. And there are another dozen logos playing with other styles and colors before these.

I have seen amazing logo's and looked at the work only to be disappointed... I've also seen cheesy/cutesy logo's where I was sure the work would reflect the same thing and been shocked. But that good or bad logo turned me one direction or the other and in the case of the bad logo; even after seeing great work a bad taste was left behind. Right now it may seem that everyone with a DSLR is calling themselves pro. But it takes a lot more then a camera to be pro and although I have no doubt that many will be weeded out all too quickly you still need to do everything you can to set yourself a step above the rest. Creating a presence is crucial and starting with a strong logo is key.

I want to interject one more important thing. What ever you make your logo; it should transition as your signature stamp and yes you absolutely, positively should have a signature stamp! The two biggest reasons being that;
1. you don't want other people stealing and claiming your work - and yes I've seen it happen more then once.
2. your picture may be snatched off your blog and used somewhere else, with out your signature stamp nobody knows who's work it is... On the flip side with that signature stamp people can then google you and find your website. I have found many a photographers just that way!

Here is a final piece of crucial advice. And despite the fact that I know this rule I seem to change logos like Victoria Secret model's change underwear. Find a logo and stick with it! Changing logos will just leave your clients confused and that definitely does not build trust (which if you remember from the top; is what a logo is supposed to do). So get a logo, love that logo and commit to it. You and that logo are like lobster and butter (you can be the lobster).

I hope you enjoyed day 1 of Building the Business! This week we're devoted to it. We will talk about all the different aspects and tie it all together on Friday!

Tomorrow: Branding.


  1. Before I finish your blog. My best friend in high school's dad was...Stephen. From Stephen's Hot Chocolate. I always had an unlimited supply. And for our wedding they gave us a hot chocolate maker. For annoying extra gadgets around the kitchen it's amazing. You just pour all the ingredients in (meaning powder and water), and push the button. It does the stirring and heating for you. To the perfect temperature. Mm.. for 65 degree weather I too am in an amazing mood for hot chocolate.

  2. Yes, I did enjoy this very much!! And it's perfect because it's right where I am at right now, working on designing my logo and all that fun stuff.

    I am looking forward to tomorrow's post.

  3. got my logo a week or two ago check it out, tell me what you think!

  4. Your post is soooo timely....I am currently having a logo designed for me as I begin my venture into this big photography bizness world. Thanks so much for the advice! A website is on the horizon!

  5. Hey Leah, good post (I've been lurking around for a bit ;)). I've been through exactly the same process: couldn't afford the designer, and - even worse - couldn't even put my finger on what my style really is. So I created my logo and then changed it couple of months down the line to something I was more comfortable with.

    Now several months later, I really want to change it again (and I should know better, as my background is in marketing!) It doesn't really work that well as an image stamp, and there are other things I'm not happy with... have a look.

  6. Leah, the font you used in the top right, top left, and bottom left (looks like the same font), would you mind sharing what it is? I really like the look of it.