Nov
30

Branding Your Vision: Tips for a Strong Logo

Written by Jerry Mcbride

If you share the sentiment of many artists, you squirm at the thought that you are a brand. Perhaps you feel a brand is something that’s too impersonal for the work you do or a tool corporate America uses to brainwash the masses. After all, you’re not Cherry Coke or Taco Bell, you’re you.

The truth of the matter is that I heard it all the time with the bands I’ve managed. “Oh your band sounds like a cross between Radiohead and Blues Traveler”. It drives some musicians crazy because they want to be recognized for who they are and what they bring to the table, but I think it’s better to embrace people’s tendency to associate your work with movements or artists within your genre. This is only one approach to branding and an elementary one, but in the end, you can craft your brand to be completely reflective of who you are as an artist.

One of the biggest anchors in your marketing arsenal will be your logo, which you’ll want to include on your website, your social media profiles, and any marketing piece you use to promote yourself. Proceed with caution if a friend or family member offers to work on your logo. It can be difficult to give honest creative feedback to people you are close to and your logo can serve as a cornerstone of your marketing efforts. Your logo should serve your brand for at least the next three years and if done well, forever. If you’re short on cash like many emerging artists, try contacting students enrolled in a graphic design school — they tend to still think outside the box and love creative challenges.

Good Ideas

Your logo should capture the essence of your artistic vision and be meaningful to both you and your target audience. If you don’t immediately “feel it”, move on. It doesn’t have to be your name in a cool font (like the Beatles), nor does it have to be purely symbolic (like that time Prince wasn’t Prince anymore). Going with your gut is key when landing on something that everyone will see and tie to you.

Your logo should be iconic in that it should be recognizable whether it’s a Twitter avatar or on a billboard. If it can’t be distilled into black and white (not greyscale) you need to go back to the drawing board. Your logo must be versatile; think of all the places you might need to use it and double that. Over the years you’ll find opportunities for your logo you never dreamed of. If you can’t get it down to a really small, one color, recognizable design, you will miss opportunities.

Lastly, make sure you have at least three layouts of the logo (any of these can be the primary logo): a simple small square file (the actual logo doesn’t need to be square, think avatar size), a larger and more complex square file (again, any shape but fits roughly into a square hole), and a landscape panorama file (think filling up a billboard or topping a letterhead).

Tech Specs

To accommodate different formats and mediums, you’ll eventually need as many as 30 different version of your logo. You’ll need a version in CMYK, RGB, and black and white. CMYK is best used for print, though if you have a really unique color you should also be able to call out the Pantone for that color to ensure accurate printing. RGB is best used for anything displayed on a screen, like television or internet banner ads.

  • Vector (.eps) or Adobe Illustrator: Uncompressed and won’t pixelate as you blow them up. This is an absolutely non-negotiable item that you must have in your arsenal. From an illustrator file, you can create any other format!
  • Photoshop: Also uncompressed, Photoshop format for a logo, however, is rather useless. Photoshop is, as the name implies, for photos. Having your logo in this format is good for those occasions when a vendor is using an outdated mode of graphic design.
  • JPEG or .jpg: These are most often used in for web applications. They can lose quality quickly when blown up, so you’ll want to have a few common size options saved and ready to use.
  • PNG: These files are also great for web use and the big benefit is that you won’t sacrifice quality when you compress them, unlike .gif files.
  • TIFF: .tiff files aren’t commonly used by lay-people, but they are widely supported and can be used in most programs. In terms of quality, .tiff files are between JPEG and Vector. They’re great for printing letterheads and other simple projects.

About Jerry Mcbride

Once the manager of a well-known rock band from Seattle, Jerry knows talent when he hears it. He loves discovering new musical talent and putting the hacks in their places.

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