Developing a great logo is a strange mix of art, science, psychology and (in most cases) a good amount of luck.

In this, the first of this two-part series, we'll

  • Explain what a logo really is
  • Offer a word of caution and ask a few questions you'll need to answer before you start
  • Suggest how to start the process
  • Advise on shape, style and color selection

Next week, in the second installment, you'll learn

  • The pitfalls of literal translation
  • That size does matter
  • How to choose the right logo
  • How to protect your rights

But first things first. Before you get started, you should know a few things about the whats, whys and hows of great logos.

First, let's make one thing very clear. You logo is not your brand. Your logo only represents your brand. If you're thinking that changing or creating a logo is the same as changing or creating a brand, someone's been feeding you some very bad information. Branding and logos are totally separate discussions.

Your logo is nothing more (and certainly, nothing less) than a visual mark that represents your brand. It allows people with money to find you, remember you and differentiate you from a few billion other businesses.

And while your logo is not your brand, its design and consistent use will effect how your brand will be perceived. A great logo can give you incredible leverage and contribute directly to your bottom line.

On the other hand, a lousy one may very well be the kiss of death.

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Jared McCarthy is the proprietor of McCarthy Creative. For more information, visit