Commissioning a logo is a lot like buying a pair of shoes. You have to consider things like functionality, cost, appearance, and quality.

Like buying shoes, if you commission a logo based purely on functionality, it may work for a while, performing the bare minimum of its duties. Shoes cover your feet and keep you from stepping on sharp things. A logo is an emblem for your company. That’s enough, right? Well, maybe for a little while.

Once you fill that basic need of protecting your feet, your shoes need to be comfortable — they need to fit your feet. If they don’t fit, they could give you blisters, or worse, hurt your spine.

Not only should those shoes fit your feet well, ideally they are attractive and you enjoy wearing them. They flatter you and fit who you are and why you’re wearing them. Who wears dress shoes to the gym?

Also, you’ll want them to last a while. If you buy cheap shoes, there’s a chance they’ll fall apart pretty quickly. On the other hand, if you spend good money on shoes, they’re probably going to last a long time. They better, right?. You want to get your money’s worth.

The same goes for your logo. You can get something ultra-cheap that simply bears your name, but it’s not very usable. It doesn’t look good in one color, or it embroiders poorly on a polo shirt. Or it ultimately fails to represent your company’s desired brand image.

Maybe it was cranked out by someone who takes a one-size-fits-all approach, or it was designed by a novice who hasn’t learned all the nuances of typography and reproduction techniques.

Now, I’m going to ruffle some feathers with the design crowd: cheap logos have their place.

Then again, so do cheap shoes and cheap cologne.

But in the long run, you probably want something worthwhile that’s got quality. You have to consider more than just cost: take into account things such as taste, functionality, appearance, and longevity.

So, a good logo should be functional: it bears your name and tells people who you are and what you do. It should be attractive and ideally long lasting, useable in lots of places and lots of ways, from a black-and-white newspaper ad to an animated bumper for a video podcast.

Logo design is part art, part science. It’s a science in that there are certain things that catch peoples’ eyes every time, and art in that it can do things in a new way. It takes lots of time, research, and exploration to develop something that fulfills all those requirements we just mentioned. And it probably won’t be cheap.

Then again, you usually get what you pay for.

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