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Organizing Your Business
Part V: Creating Your Business Logo

Clicks-and-Bricks Used Bookstore Series

by Jill Hendrix

#110, 17 December 2007

Now that you've registered your business you can open a business checking account and start documenting your business expenses, the first of which may be the creation of your business logo.

Once you've found a location and signed a lease, you'll have limited time to get your business up and running before any free rent you've negotiated runs out (stay tuned for my next article on Store Location and Lease Negotiation). Thus, it's best if you already have your business logo finalized, so that you'll have a graphic available for immediate use on your storefront sign and business cards. Depending on the type of sign your location requires, lead times can be several weeks.

If you don't already have a graphic designer in mind, revisit Part II of Assembling Your Power Team.

Before you commission a logo from your designer, make sure you know what you will be charged (I prefer a flat fee to hourly-based charges), what you will be getting for that fee - x number of logo choices? x number of revisions to your choice? the finished design in x formats? etc. - and that you will own all the rights to the logo design.

When commissioning your logo, give your graphic designer some of the highlights from your business plan - for example, explaining what your company will do, who its prospective clients are, and how you plan to differentiate yourself from your competition. Your logo needs to match these expectations and plans for your business. For example, if you are opening an antiquarian bookstore, you might prefer a more ornate, Gothic-style font; whereas, for Fiction Addiction I wanted a more contemporary, elegant feel:

Logos may consist simply of your company name in a distinct font style or they can include graphical elements. Since my business name did not actually include the word "book" I thought it was important to include a book element in my logo design to clarify that we are indeed a bookstore.

Other factors to consider when choosing a logo include:

  • Making sure your logo is legible when printed in a single color, such as black.
  • Making sure your logo is legible if printed on different color backgrounds.
  • Making sure your logo and colors are legible from a distance, for use on store signs and billboards.
  • Make sure your logo colors can be matched suitably to vinyl and/or Plexiglas sign colors.
  • Determining how small you can shrink your logo and still have it legible for use on your website and business cards.
  • Making sure your logo and colors are not too similar to a competitor or another company's trademark.

Once you've finalized your logo choice with your designer, these are some formats and associated information you may find useful to request:

  • Full-color and grayscale versions of your logo in a vector .eps file format with flattened fonts (this is a high-resolution file used by printers). Although you probably won't be able to open .eps files yourself without specialized software, you should consider them your master files as they can be reduced or enlarged without any loss of quality. If anyone asks you for a graphic of your logo for printing purposes, try sending them an .eps file as your first option.
  • A suitable high-resolution .jpg version of your logo to be used for a trademark application. Currently the requirements are: "The image must be in .jpg format; scanned at no less than 300 dots per inch and no more than 350 dots per inch, with a length of no less than 250 pixels and no more than 944 pixels, and a width of no less than 250 pixels and no more than 944 pixels. All lines must be clean, sharp and solid, must not be fine or crowded, and must produce a high quality image when copied." When I filed my application the image had to be in grayscale, but it seems like they may be accepting color now. To be safe, request both.
  • A color .jpg file to be used for a web banner (usually designed for a white page background). A color .gif file with a transparent background (to use on pages with non-white backgrounds). You may want to ask for a couple of different sizes if you are not comfortable resizing images yourself.
  • Your logo colors in hexadecimal (for web use), Pantone (for printing), and CMYK (lithographic printing)
  • The name of your logo font, if applicable.

If you had a good experience with your logo designer, go ahead and get an estimate from him or her for doing a business card design. Even if you don't have your location or phone number finalized, you can have the designer use dummy data for the mockups. You'll want your cards to include your company logo, tag line if applicable, your name and title, your business address and phone number, your website URL, and your email address. Whether to include your store hours is a judgment call since these tend to be susceptible to change in your first few years of business.

Traditionally, small businesses had their business cards printed by a local printing company and had to order at least 1000 at a time - FYI, I've gone through less than 2000 cards in 6 years of business - and full-color was prohibitively expensive. These days, many small businesses are getting their cards printed from online companies such as VistaPrint for a fraction of the price. You can also order as few as 250 at a time. So, if you are planning to put your store hours on your card, consider ordering the minimum number of cards. If your hours do change, you'll have to pay your designer for an altered file and pay a minimal upload charge to VistaPrint, but you won't have a lot of excess cards going to waste.

Let your designer know who will be printing your cards so that they can provide you with final artwork designed specifically for that vendor, as each printer tends to have different requirements.

Once you've approved everything and your designer has turned over the files, please make a backup disc and store it in a safety-deposit box or other safe location. Online backup providers, such as First Backup are another option.

Your logo and business cards should be designed by a professional, but once they are done consider purchasing a desktop publishing program such as Microsoft Publisher and try creating your own letterhead, envelopes, address labels, display signage, and even bookmarks. Doing the work yourself is much more cost-effective and allows you a much faster turnaround time for changes. Keep in mind that you may need to purchase the fonts that your designer chose, if necessary, to maintain a consistent image.

If you have any questions about choosing your business logo, please email me at or post your query to the BookThink Open Shop Bookstores Forum and I'll do my best to help.

Now that you've successfully organized your business, it's time for one of the most important business decisions you'll face: Location! Location! Location! Stay tuned for my next article: Store Location and Lease Negotiation.

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