By Ann McCormick
When I first began to write about gardening over 20 years ago, I didn’t need much – a computer, lots of paper for writing and rewriting, and a growing collection of gardening books. As I began to have successes here and there, I realized it was time for business cards. They worked nicely as a means of passing my contact information to someone but I wanted something more. I needed a professionally designed logo.
And so like Alice down the rabbit hole I entered the world of graphic design. I soon discovered there was more than just a trade name and the selection of my favorite colors involved. Since that first foray into logo creation, I have learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t.
Make the Name Memorable
Of course you can use the name you were born with in your business logo but it helps to have a trade name that says something about your work and yourself. A random scan of the GWA membership roll will reveal names such as Garden Goddess, Gardens in Bloom, City Garden Ideas, Secret Garden Landscaping, and my personal favorite Herb ‘n Cowgirl. Each of these gives the reader clues about the business and the person behind it.
Deciding on a business name is an art in itself. There are many articles on the subject. Take some time to read up on the subject and consider what it should be for you. Ask other gardeners for suggestions and advice. Here are some quick tips to creating a memorable name:
- Make it short and sweet. Two to three words is usually about right. Long trade names are often shortened in use anyway so keep it succinct from the beginning.
- Don’t get overly clever. Using a name from one of your favorite songs or a movie you adore may make you smile but will your customers get it?
- Check the initials. ‘Designs Under Heaven” may sound divine but it abbreviates to DUH.
- Do a search for the business name in your state. You don’t want to get into legal trouble by using a name already in use.
Keep the Graphic Simple
Although your business logo can be as simple as the trade name in a distinctive font, most garden professionals include a graphic as well. As with choosing the name, pick something that suits your business and personality. If this is your first foray into logo creation, give yourself time to look at other logos. Take note of the designs you see every day in stores, on TV commercials, even on passing delivery trucks.
Whatever you choose keep the graphic relatively simple and recognizable. You don’t want people puzzled or confused when they see it.
To Serif or Not to Serif
Now we come to the font used in the logo. There are hundreds of fonts to choose from. Many of these may be cute or somewhat edgy but if they are hard to read pass them by. Once you eliminate the odd ones you are down to a collection of fonts that graphic artists classify as “serif” or “sans serif” fonts.
A serif is a small line or stroke attached to the end of a letter to help make it more readable. Times New Roman and Georgia are serif fonts. Arial and Verdana are sans serif fonts, meaning they do not have those extra strokes or lines. In general serif fonts are easier to read, especially when they are shrunk to a small size. If you’re not sure what you have, ask your graphic designer to explain.
What About Color?
I remember fondly the early days of the Internet, when web page designers discovered the joys of using color. Suddenly every third website used a black background and changed the color of their text with wild abandon. Sometimes it got so bad that they were varying the color from one letter to the next. This may have been fun to create but it was incredibly difficult to read. Eventually the readers’ complaints had an impact on the web page designers and things settled down to the much more readable standards of today.
Colors give us emotional clues. That’s why stop signs are red, luxury goods often use silver, gold, and black, and medical waiting rooms are decorated in soft pastels. It’s also no coincidence that the graphics for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (today’s top three social media sites) use blue, symbolizing trust, dependability, and strength, while Pinterest uses red to symbolize excitement, youth, and boldness. What emotional response do you want to create with your logo?
Selecting two or three complimentary colors for a logo requires an artist’s eye. These colors will form the basis of the colors used on your business cards, promotional literature, and the all-important website. This creates the look and feel of a professional business when done correctly.
Sizing Is Important
A logo is a recognizable symbol you can use everywhere. It needs to look good when it is very large on a banner or sign or very small in the screen image that accompanies your Facebook posts. This may mean you need to simplify the graphic to make it work no matter the size. Butterflies fluttering around a flower may look fine when the graphic is full size but look more like smudges when they are shrunk.
Does the Message Come Through?
When you have what you think is a good logo, take a step back and view it as a unified whole. Better yet, pass the logo to some trusted colleagues for feedback. Then make any needed corrections, approve the design, and get your logo out there to your adoring public.
Meet the Author
If you enjoy herbs and organic gardening, you’ll want to meet Ann McCormick, the Herb ‘n Cowgirl. A life-long
gardener, she has devoted her time for the last 20 years to writing and speaking about her favorite subject. Ann is a feature writer for The Dallas Morning News and a columnist for Herb Quarterlywhere she pens the “Herbalist Notebook.” The Herb ‘n Cowgirl also shares her love of herbs and her gardening techniques as a speaker and media guest. She lives in Fort Worth, TX with her husband of 35 years and an assortment of dogs. To find out more about the Herb ‘n Cowgirl visit her at www.herbncowgirl.com.