Episode 158

May 4, 2018

Oh hey! Is it time to spiff up that tired old logo that your friend’s cousin made for you in 2002? Or the one you put together with clip art back in your massage school business class? Michael and Allissa share some tips on creating a logo that doesn’t suck.

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Oh hey! Is it time to spiff up that tired old logo that your friend’s cousin made for you in 2002? Or the one you put together with clip art back in your massage school business class? Michael and Allissa share some tips on creating a logo that doesn’t suck.

Resources we mention:

This episode is sponsored by:


Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we discuss the business side of massage therapy. I’m Michael Reynolds. 

Allissa Haines And I am Allissa Haines.

MR And we’re your hosts. Glad you’ve joined us today for this episode. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this episode because we are talking about one of my favorite things, logos. Brace yourself. [laughs]

AH Michael geeks out.

MR I know. I know.

AH He has very strong feelings —

MR I do have very strong feelings.

AH — about logos. Yeah, so I guess we’re just going to skip the banter and go right to it.

MR We can. We can.

AH This is going to be a quickie episode. Quick tips for logo design. It’s something that Michael has written a blog post about and been very Smarty McSmartypants about it. We will link to that in the podcast notes. You want me to start, Michael? Or you want to start?

MR Yeah, go for it.

AH Okay. So quick tips for logo design. This has come up a whole bunch lately in our Transformational Journey class. A whole bunch of our premium members are finally getting their logo and branding together, and it’s super fun. This is a really exciting part of business. It’s also entirely overwhelming and easy to do badly. There are a lot of really bad logos out there. And I had one of them for a long time so pot calling the kettle. Here are some quick tips.

First one, don’t hire someone you know. Don’t hire your sister. Don’t hire your uncle, your kid, or your best friend even. You want — and if you do hire someone you know, if they’re a networking contact, before you mention, before you even think of talking to them about your logo, really think through is this someone who I can give honest, critical, even piffy feedback to and they will take it in a professional manner? And is this someone I can receive feedback from because this designer is probably a specialist and they might look at your rough idea and be like this is terrible and here’s why. Can you handle that coming from that person? Because you might be able to handle it from a stranger who’s a designer, but you can’t handle it from your uncle Tim because you’ll just want to punch him in the face. So can you accept and give honest feedback with this person? The first tip, so hire someone you don’t know or someone you can really vet regarding feedback.

The second tip: don’t hire an amateur. Don’t hire somebody who this is going to be their first logo or maybe not somebody who just opened up shop if they don’t already have some kind of portfolio under their belt. And I feel badly saying this because I certainly love to be someone who gives other business owners their first shot. But you really want someone who has their crap together if you’re going to pay money for this logo that’s going to be the branding for your business for a long time. Be real mindful of that.

MR Well the scenario here I have in mind is I hear a lot of times people will say oh, well my niece is starting graphic design school or something. And it’s like uh, okay. Sometimes your niece is the uber-talented, highly skilled designer that you’re looking for. Other times they’ve got some room to grow, and you’re going to be spending a lot of time and money caught up in that process. So that’s the scenario I see a lot.

AH Word. The next tip I have is that you need to fully know the process going in and have a contract for it. So you want to know what the pricing is. You want to know what the deliverables are. Michael, what’s a deliverable?

MR The deliverable is the actual finished product, the files you receive. So when someone delivers a logo to you, you want to make sure they deliver you multiple file formats, and especially the formats that are print ready and ready for different mediums. Usually it’s going to be an EPS file, a .eps file; a .ai file, which is Illustrator which is what a lot of times logos are designed in; a .png file just for the web. So you want to make sure you’ve got vector hard files, and the deliverables are actually those files you receive.

AH And Michael has the specifics of this in the blog post that he wrote that we’ll totally put in the show notes as well. But that’s a deliverable. You want to know the timing. You want to know exactly when the designer’s going to start on this and exactly what the end date is. How long do you have to give feedback between each revision? And how will you give that feedback? Is this feedback going to happen in in-person, verbal meetings? Is this going to happen over the phone verbally? Is your feedback and your communication only going to happen via email? What is this designer’s process? What does your money entitle you to as far as their time and their attention? And how many revisions do you get over this particular time period? How many times will they take feedback and readjust for you? What is it — is that done by the number of revisions; is it done by the number of — how is this measured? Is it measured by the actual number of hours they spend working on this? What is the exact process? And do not enter into an agreement without a written contract that specifies this. And if you are talking to a designer who does not use contracts, you need to run screaming from that situation. I don’t care if they were recommended to you by somebody. If they don’t have a written, structured process for creating a logo for a small business, get out because you will be waiting six to nine months for your logo which will never get finished and they will already have your money.

And that’s the last thing is — well not the last thing altogether, but the last part of these things is knowing how much money do you pay up front, and at what point do they get the remainder and how does the structure of money work? Michael, do you have anything in particular to speak to that before I launch into our halftime sponsor?

MR No, I think that’s a good place to pause.

AH All right. Who’s our halftime sponsor?

MR Jojoba!

AH Yay, jojoba.

MR Thank you. I appreciate you letting me say that.

AH And today it is 60-some degrees in New England, but tomorrow it’s going to be 85, which makes me really happy to talk about jojoba because jojoba does not oxidize or turn rancid in any climate. It has an indefinite shelf life, heat does not affect it, so massage therapists in Florida, California, other warm climates prefer jojoba care — pardon me — prefer — I can’t even say things right, prefer the Jojoba Company to triglyceride oils —

MR You’re just way too excited.

AH — I am way too excited. So people in all climates prefer jojoba in place of triglyceride oils like almond oil, grape seed, macadamia, and other — coconut — fragile stuff that can deteriorate in the heat and go rancid. Therapists performing hot stone massage like jojoba because unlike oils — because it’s a wax ester, not an oil, so it can stand up to heating and reheating. Jojoba does not require refrigeration either so it’s super easy to store. You can learn more at massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba, J-O-J-O-B-A, jojoba.

All right. Let me flip back to my notes here, which I totally lost track of because I got so excited about jojoba.

MR Every time we talk about jojoba we get totally sidetracked because we just love it so much.

AH You know what it was? When I was doing the jojoba halftime spot, I literally looked over to my bottle to make sure that it was full because I need to refill the bottle and I couldn’t remember if I did that already today, and I totally did. But I was thinking forward an hour being in the middle of my next massage.

MR There you go.

AH Anyhow, jojoba lasts so long. You use so little of it that you don’t have to refill your bottles as often, which is great except I always forget if I’ve refilled my bottle. I can’t remember how full it is. Anyhow, back to logo design.

Here’s some tips about the actual design process. First of all, I’m flipping up my notes, Michael, don’t let that scare you. Know who you are going in. This sounds ridiculous, but a lot of people don’t know this going in. What’s the name of your business; if you have one, what is your tagline; who is your target and specialty? And this is important. Everybody’s so resistant to define a niche, I hear you; I understand. But if you know your target and specialty, you can tailor your colors, your tagline, all of that stuff right to it.

And that’s the last bit, know the colors that you want incorporated and limit them. You don’t want a hundred colors. You really don’t want more than one or two. Maybe even have, to give to your designer, a few pieces of art or ideas that you love to inspire them. Now that said, you want to start with an idea, not an exact picture. There’s some parameters here. You want it to be simple. You want it to be symbolic as opposed to an actual, tangible picture of an object. And you want it to carry the essence as opposed to a literal meaning. I think we’re all pretty tired of massage logos that have a hand in them. If your massage logo has a hand, that is not differentiating you from the bulk of other massage therapists. And the reality is if it’s a stone, it’s a Zen garden kind of stone, that’s probably not differentiating you either. But, Michael, this is really where you really come in with some opinions, so let’s talk. Give us your schtick on symbols and essence.

MR Oh, can you just feel me bursting at the seams here?

AH I am so ready — I was so excited to hand this part to you.

MR Okay. Where do I start? Okay. The biggest mistakes that I see, and I’m just going to be bold and say they’re mistakes. The biggest mistakes I see with logo design is one, they try to overdesign it, and two, they try to make it too literal. And those kind of go hand in hand sometimes as well. But in the article, we give some examples like Nike, Microsoft, Mayo Clinic, there’s plenty of other examples. Apple’s a great example.

But if you think of the most iconic, well-known, strongest logos you can think of, they’re not literal pictures of objects you can see around you in the world. The reason that we don’t want to pick objects is because when you get too literal with a logo, your brain just kind of gives up on interpreting it. For example, let’s take the hand that Allissa mentioned. If you’ve got a hand or, let’s say, rocks or a flower or a leaf or something, those are all things you can look around and see and there’s no imagination to it. When people look at a logo that contains a literal object like that, they just look at it and say oh, okay; that’s a stone. Oh, okay, that’s a hand; that’s a leaf. And it doesn’t make you stand out. Quite the opposite. It makes you blend in because there are a gazillion leaves in the world, a gazillion hands, a gazillion rocks, I mean they’re just everywhere. The best logos are the ones that have an abstract symbol or an abstract idea behind the way it is designed that is abstract enough that when someone looks at it, their brain has to work a little bit to interpret it and their imagination has to kick in to connect to it.

So example, I mean, no one can talk about logos without mentioning Nike; it’s just the default. So let’s look at Nike. The Nike is a swish. Nike does not have a picture of a shoe in their logo or a picture of a basketball or a person playing sports or whatever. It is a swish. The swish represents motion, strength, activity, any — the wind. Any sort of interpretation can be attached to it that applies to the philosophy behind Nike, which goes with their tagline “Just Do It.” Just go forward, motion, momentum, action, activity. So think of how your brand can be represented visually with an abstract representation rather than something literal. I cannot stress this enough. And when I say people overdesign logos too much it’s because when amateur designers get hold of a logo project, they want to make it so good that they overdo it and it becomes not good any more.

AH And I’m going to jump in here because I actually had this conversation with a friend over the weekend, which is what inspired this episode. There is this brilliant bit of historical quoteage from Coco Chanel who was an iconic fashion designer. And she said — and this has been repeated — “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off.” Take off the earrings —

MR Love it.

AH — or the necklace or the scarf. I don’t know if men do this too. I just know that as a woman, when I get dressed up, I go all out. I got the heels, I got the skirt, I got the earrings, I got my hair back with a fancy bobble in my hair. Mind you, it’s been years since I’ve actually gotten dressed up, but nonetheless. When I used to, you look at yourself, and you can see the different between someone who took one or two things off so that their elegance would be understated and subtle versus someone who is all out. I’m sorry that I don’t have any examples other than fashion. I probably should have though this through more. But it’s when — you don’t want to be doing a cat eye in your makeup and overdo your eyebrows and have a really glam lipstick. You need to pick one of those things to be the thing that people see when they look at you. And the same is true for the logo. If you have too many things for people to look at, they’re just going to blank out and not see any of it. So if you have a pile of rocks and a butterfly and a hand and dut-dut-dut-dut-dut, it’s not going to work, man. The brain’s going to overload instead of interpret. That was my bit. That’s all I had with that.

MR Yeah, yeah. What usually happens is. They way logos get overdesigned and literal is because the client, which is you, ideally, the listener, ideally goes to — not ideally, but generally goes to a designer and says I like stones or I like this shape or I like the beach or I like butterflies or I like flowers, and they already have a preconceived object in their mind, and they already have kind of designed the logo in their mind already. When you give that instruction to a designer, it already places them in a box, and that is a recipe for creating a mediocre logo. What you want to do when going to your designer is — I think, Allissa, you probably already mentioned this; I’m probably just restating it. You want to go to them with the essence of what your business stands for, so your target market, your style, your personality, other things about your business. Try to refrain from giving them literal instructions like make it a square or make it a circle or make it a butterfly. Tell them hey, I like to see these types of clients. My personality is kind of like this. I favor soft tones or sharp edges or strength or whatever. You can tell them what emotions and philosophies and directions you favor but keep it very, very abstract and not specific and that will, generally, with a good designer, that will generally lead to the best logo because they are not stuck in this tunnel.

AH And while I’m a fan of using local designers if you have local connections or other small business owners have used a particular designer and you’ve been — you love their logo, you like their process after you’ve heard about it, by all means search for someone local. And I also am such a huge fan of 99designs, and I’ll put the link for that in the podcast notes as well. Michael, I know you love 99designs as well.

I just used this service for my rebranding of my massage practice, and I love the structure of it. I recommend people use this process. It’s a set price, and you can actually choose different design levels which will have different level of experienced designers, essentially giving you ideas and bidding on your — kind of like a logo contest where designers can submit ideas and then you get to choose your finalist and you get to work with them and you get to choose your final idea. And it’s all such a legit and structured process, I recommend it to people all the time if they don’t have a local designer or contact that they have a good experience working with in the the past. I love 99designs. I like small business. I like local small business too. But I love the process of 99designs because it is so structured.

And when I did mine, it was great because I took a couple pics of my office, the color scheme, and a few pieces of art that have been important for me that I really like that kind of exhibit my personality, and the designers took it and ran with it, and I was able to rate and choose finalists and – anyway, I don’t want to rave about 99designs because I like all kinds of other designers as well. But it’s great as long as your process is structured, and I cannot repeat that enough. As long as there is a structured, contracted process, you’ll do great. I’m done, Michael. What else you got?

MR Yeah, yeah. Well I think what’s nice about 99designs is it’s the middle ground between those really cheap logo sites and thousands of dollars for a professional designer. They are professional designers, but like an agency or something. So they do let you favor certain designers, the prices, reasonable-ish based on a lot of factors. I think they’ve done a really good job of structuring the process. Fun fact: The Massage Business Blueprint logo is from 99designs. I have other companies that — I have two other companies actually with logos from that same service and they turned out great. And, Allissa, your logo you really like.

AH Yep.

MR We’ve had good track record. Favor the structure. And the thing also about logo formats — I want to go back to this because if you maybe design your own logo or have someone else do it who is not a professional, you sometimes run into issues with file formats. With the file format, they do a logo in Photoshop for example, and that’s a mistake because you’re going to end up with what’s called a raster image. A raster image is basically a pixel-based image, which means it’s not going to scale up or down properly for print. So you want to make sure that the logo is done in a vector format. Adobe Illustrator is a great program for that. And what that means is when you enlarge the logo or make it high resolution for things like T-shirts or print material, it’s going to look clean, crisp, and proper because the file format is correct. Professional logo designers know this and they will give you the right file formats, which usually end in .eps, for the EPS version, which stands for encapsulated post script.

The thing about logos, a lot of people thing oh, I don’t want to spend a bunch of money on a logo. The thing is, your logo is the anchor point for the visual identify of your business and skimping on it is an underinvestment in your business. You want to really — I mean, 99designs charges $500-$1000 for a logo is kind of average.

AH There’s like a $300 — there’s a 299, a 499, and like a 699 or something version. I did the mid-level. It was 3- or 499.

MR That’s a good one, yeah.

AH It was worth every penny. Worth it.

MR Ideally, it’s going to last for years and years, so what’s a few hundred dollars for the mark that will identify visually your business for years and years to come. When you think of it that way, it’s well worth it. So don’t skimp. Don’t go to fiverr or don’t give 10 bucks to your niece and just wing it. It’s worth it to pay for it. And if you have a local designer or a company that you trust and want to invest in and work with, that’s great too. I really favor, obviously, working with a real agency that does this. But for the price point it’s hard to beat. What else are we missing, Allissa? Anything else we’ve missed?

AH No, I think that’s it, man.

MR Yeah. So I’m excited to see some of the logo designs that we’re seeing from people that are using this service or designers they’ve worked with so a lot of our people in our course are redesigning their logo right now which is fun to see. It’s exciting. And your website’s about to launch soon.

AH It is. It’s coming so soon. I’m so excited!

MR It’s going to be this month, right?

AH I think in the next couple of weeks, dude.

MR Cool. Cool.

AH Exciting.

MR All right. Well, I could talk about logos all day, but I will not. You’re welcome. If you have any questions about it, send us a note, and we’ll be happy to tell you more. What else you got? Anything else you want to end with or are we good?

AH No, man, I’m done. I’m burnt.

MR All right. Awesome, well we’ll wrap up there then. Thanks for listening as always. You can find us online at massagebusinessblueprint.com. If you do want to email us about logos or anything else, the email address to find us a podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com. Until then, don’t forget to go online and check out our premium membership. We have a lot of great benefits in that membership. You get a free article to use every month on your own website. We have an awesome project coming up which I won’t spill the beans on quite yet, but I’m still bursting at the seams, so it’s going to be hard for me to keep it a secret, but we’ve got a really cool project coming up that we’re going to share with you over the next, probably, 30 days or so. Like I said —

AH I, just for the record, have no idea what Michael’s talking about. So that’s awesome.

MR [laughs] Yes, you do.

AH That’s where I’m at. I have no — oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

MR You know what I’m talking about.

AH I do know what he’s talking about. This is the thing, people, we have so many things for you that I literally cannot remember them. I have to look at my notes to be like what do we have? We have that too? That’s where I am.

MR Oh, you’re thinking of the other one. Okay, yeah. We have two things coming. Anyway, stay tuned. We have fun stuff coming out. Anyway, thanks for listening. We appreciate you being part of our community, and we’ll see you next time.

AH Bye.