The Business of Branding: 9 Things To Know Before Designing Your Logo

Design magnate Steven Gilliatt said “[A logo] should look just as good in 15-foot letters on top of company headquarters as it does one sixteenth of an inch tall on company stationery.”

A logo or logotype as it is often called is defined as a graphic representation or symbol of a company name, trademark, abbreviation, etc., uniquely designed for ready recognition. In other words it is the color, font, the gives an instant impact and an overall feeling of who you are as a photography business. But before you put pencil to paper, or hire a designer to do the same, there are a few requirements you should have to your logo.

1)    Do your research: Know who you are and what you like before you get started. The more your designer knows about you, the better chance they have of nailing your design. The better you know your company and the image you would like it to have, the easier it will be for you to recognize it when it is presented.

2)    Design in black and white first. A logo should be simple enough to work in black and white first. Color is a very strong influence. It is much better to pick a logo when the playing field is even, you can see the fonts and shapes clearly in black and white.

3)    Make it memorable.

4)    Make it scalable (see opening quote).

5)    Make sure it has “legs.” In other words, will this logo work on every application you need it to? On your business cards as well as your website? Can you see it as part of your entire brand?

6)    Know the difference between a logo mark and a logo type. Not every identity needs both.

7)    Make sure it conveys your studio’s personality, style, and attitude.

8)    Know your audience’s demographics then make sure your identity speaks to your target audience.

9)    Ignore trends and make it timeless. A good logo or identity should last you and your studio 10 years. That is why it is worth the investment. Even after 10 years you may just need a facelift, especially if you have established yourself.

Does your own logo stand up to these rules? What are some of your favorite photography studio logos?

Written By: Ellen Petty of Identity Kitchen

Ellen Petty is the Head Brandslinger at Identity Kitchen, a marketing and design studio specializing in photographers. See Ellen’s previous post “The Business of Branding: Dare to Be Different” here.


  • Great article. I had mine designed before I knew enough about it…I have been considering a facelift of my logo to suit the rest of my branding, but saving for a great designer/brander is a challenge!

  • Seshu says:

    Good article. I think my logo meets the objectives of all the 9 points you outlined out here. Take a look at my site/logo – Thank you!

  • Noelle says:

    Still defining what my brand is. Just started the business on the side and want to concentrate on portraiture, kids – love maternity and couples. Trying all things, not sure that I want to incorporate a Bell into it though. Maybe into the names of things. Would you define the difference between a logo mark and a logo type?

  • Ellen Petty says:

    Kristi- It’s not as expensive as you think, especially when you think about the value of elevating your brand.

    Seshu- nice work! And a 10th point, if you are happy, you will be confident in selling your business.

    Noelle- A logo mark is the actual symbol, the logo type is a typeface that has been customized to represent your company. It is great that you already know what you want your concentration to be in, you are on the right track.

  • Kris, I agree with Ellen. I went through an ENTIRE rebranding last year. new colors, new logo, new web site, all new marketing materials. everything!

    Yes, it was an investment (I rather use that word than expensive).

    Think about this. So many clients come to us and balk at our pricing, and the ones who invest in our services, are making a commitment to their pictures and making that investment.

    I wanted everything to shine. And that means setting myself apart from my competition. I wholeheartedly believe my investment with my designer was 175 percent worth every penny.

    This is your business. You have to take your client’s investment and turn around and show them you are serious. If you stick with simple DIY designs or company templates, you will have a hard time garnering the type of business that will yield you a higher-end client.

    If yo always want to coast like most wedding photographers do, then maybe a redesign isn’t in your future. I look at most of my colleagues and they are still running their business out of Starbucks and their livingrooms.

    The one thing the rebranding inspired me to do? I am now opening up my first studio in June.

  • Ellen Petty says:

    Good for you, Kevin! Congratulations about your studio! And thank you so much for supporting your designers effort 😉 We’d love to see your new brand, would you mind sharing?

  • Christine says:

    Excellent post – and fabulous points!

    I’ve seen Kevin’s brand already, and it still makes me swoon every time I check out his site! Working on this is my 2010 goal. I like what I have, but I think it is time for a facelift!

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