When was the last time you looked at your small business’ logo? Does it reflect the personality of your company? Does it look like it was created in 1970? Do you even have a logo? Your logo should be the biggest marketing tool you have. It is the visual signature for your business, and should be featured prominently on every form of communications that your potential customers see. Your logo should be memorable, and evoke emotions reflecting the personality of your company.

So where do you start when developing a logo for your company? The first thing you should do is come up with a list of a minimum of 20 adjectives that describe your business. Is it trendy, traditional, family-oriented, whimsical, corporate, bold, high-value, warm, masculine, eco-friendly, etc.

Once you have your list, narrow it down to the top five most important adjectives you want your logo to portray. Now you’re ready to start designing. Type your company’s name on the computer, and possibly a tagline if you want to include it. Ideally, you should use an illustration program, like Adobe Illustrator, to create your logo. You want to have a vector-based EPS file that is scalable for the final file. With your adjective list in mind, start looking at fonts. Think about the feeling you get from different fonts. San serif fonts are stronger and more masculine, while script fonts are very feminine and can be whimsical. Try out many different fonts, and you will start to get an idea of which ones feel right. Keep things in black and white right now. Logos should stand on their own and be effective in black, as well as in color.

Now that you’ve chosen a font, you’re ready to think about the possibility of adding a graphic image to the logo. For most small businesses, I recommend using some type of graphic image. They tend to make logos more memorable. Think of Apple’s stylized apple, Nike’s swoosh or McDonald’s arches. For more conservative businesses, like lawyers or doctors, a graphic image may not be appropriate. Again, go back to your list of the most important adjectives, and if it feels right, create a graphic that fits the image you want to portray.

Your company name and graphic image are done, now it’s time to start adding color. The use of color is an excellent way to portray different feelings, and make your logo memorable. For example, red can evoke feelings of passion, excitement and danger. Purple gives a sense of royalty, wisdom or celebration. Blue is a loyal, peaceful and trustworthy color. Don’t feel limited to just one color either. Adding a second, or even third color into your logo can give it contrast and make it stand out even more.

Congratulations, your logo is finished! This is the time to create multiple file formats in different color modes for your logo. In addition to the vector-based EPS file, you will need high- and low-resolution JPEGs. CMYK, RGB, spot color, grayscale, black, and white on black (reverse) are the typical color modes. With the right logo, you will create a brand for your small business that people will remember long after they’ve met you.