What’s in a Logo?
It’s hard to argue against the importance of a logo. In non-visual fields it’s often what buyers first identify with in a brand. In the photo industry it plays second fiddle to your images, but it’s still an important visual cue and tie-together for your clients.
A logo is best when it is a written or designed representation of the style of your work. Whether you’re an edgy fashion, luxury travel, flirtatious lifestyle or classic wedding photographer your logo should have a distinct connection with your style. Think how silly it would feel for an edgy fashion photographer to have a Comic Sans font as their logo. Apply that same font type to the flirtatious lifestyle photographer, and it just may work.
Different font treatments and designs evoke a certain emotional response from us. I can’t say I know the science behind it, but I’m sure you could easily point out a design that had a classy feel to one that had a whimsical feel without any training either. You don’t have to be a typophile to know how a font makes you feel when you see it.
Logos can be as simple as your name in a certain font or as elaborate as a multi-font, multi-color, iconographic and artfully designed branding display. The choice is up to you, but generally you’ll find logos vary a bit between the commercial and wedding industries. The reason for this is because different audiences prefer different styles. Commercial photographers usually have logos as simple as their name in a specific font, with perhaps a design element or two thrown in. Wedding photographers often vary from simple fonts to elaborate graphics and designs.
Check out this list of logo examples from both commercial and wedding photographers. Notice how their logos closely resemble the feel of their style of photography and come together to emphasize their brand.
Agency Designed Logo
For photographers really looking for the full treatment and a well-thought brand design, the best way to go is with a professional and reputable design, marketing or ad agency. These are companies ranging from three to hundreds of individuals who specialize in creating identifiable brands. It does come at a cost though, but in my personal experience I’ve found the investment to be absolutely worth it.
There are a lot of benefits to working with a design agency. First and foremost is working with a team of professionals who are constantly creating branding for a variety of clients. Even if your work is designated to a less experienced or newer hire at an agency, it passes by several eyes and receives input a few times before it ever reaches you. If you can, try to find an agency in your area that has worked with photographers in the past, or other creative professionals. Agencies often specialize with clients in specific industries. Those who work with photographers usually know better what we’re looking for (and what attracts clients) in our industry.
When you’re shopping around, you can talk to multiple agencies and receive a few estimates to compare them. Don’t just look at the final price tag each quotes you, but also pay attention to what comes along with it. Things to look for are how many design revisions you get before you’re charged for extras, what the final deliverables are and any consultations. I recommend working with an agency that sits down for a consultation before working with you, to understand the direction you want to take your brand and any ideas you may have.
When I finally made the decision to work with an agency, I went with the creative team over at The James Agency. I’ve known people there for a few years, had seen a lot of their fantastic recent work and was happy they were willing to meet for an initial consult. I wanted a new brand clients could identify with that was fun enough to fit the style of my images, yet simple enough not to dominate. Together, they honed down just the right look for me that I could use across a number of mediums (website, biz cards, promos, etc). The feedback I’ve gotten has been tremendous, and it has really helped tie together my brand. Definitely a big improvement over my DIY logo.
It doesn’t just happen on the first try though. We took several revisions to get just the right look. Take a look here at the options and progressions we worked through when designing my logo. From a variety of looks to narrowing down the right style and then working through color treatments. Expect to go through the very same process.
So whether you’re working on your first DIY logo, hiring a freelancer or collaborating with an agency, make sure you do your homework and know what kind of feel you want your brand to project alongside your images. First and foremost, keep working to make your images as good as possible. Remember, great branding only helps give you that little extra edge, it can never take the place of the quality of your images.