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Many small businesses have inherited a logo from "back in the day," when nobody had time to really put together something proper. It stuck around and managed to survive. But is your logo still working for you and performing its primary function—building recognition? When placed on your marketing collateral, does it really represent your company's identity?

Whether you've never had a logo developed or you just have that doubt in the back of your head that your logo isn't everything it could be, the following five rules for your brand can help guide the process of creating or updating your logo.

1. The Right Fit

Is your logo appropriate for you and your industry? Some industries have a theme in terms of logos; if you're not in step with the rest of the crowd, you could get left behind. For example, in the restaurant and brewery industries, a crest logo is very common. In the graphic design industry, it's becoming more common to see characters as part of a logo or brand scheme.

Take some time to study your competition and see generally what they're doing. You can also study common trends for logo design to give you an idea of what seems to be working well.

That's not to say you have to fall in step. In fact, maybe you should do something completely different in order to stand out. But make the decision based on information and research.

2. Simplicity

Generally speaking, a logo should be very simple. Remember, the goal is to build brand recognition. Your logo sums up who you are in a single image. Creating a simple graphic can be very difficult, but it's critical to keep the design as basic as possible. Complex images are less likely to be recalled later, so keep the logo bare-bones. Keep in mind, too, that a simple logo reproduces much more neatly to different sizes. You want your logo to look the same whether you use it on postcards or on your website—or on a billboard ad.

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image of Tara Hornor

Tara Hornor writes for PrintPlace.com, an online printing company offering flyers, brochures, business cards, posters, postcards, and more print media.

Twitter: @TaraHornor