Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions.  The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.Wendy Cook

When I start working with an advisor, I love to ask: “What is the thought process behind your firm’s logo?” Not only is it fun to hear the wide range of responses, but the discussion often leads to a “Eureka!” understanding of a larger question: What makes this firm tick in its own special way?

An inspirational story

Here’s my favorite logo story from those discovery meetings. The most creative approach I’ve ever heard came from Rockbridge Investment Management, who partnered with a local high school graphics-design teacher to hold a contest among her classes. The advisor received about a dozen student entries. The winner, a ninth-grade student, received $50 and a pizza lunch for her and her friends. And her logo was quite well-done, as you can see for yourself on Rockbridge’s website.

This proves it’s possible to get creative with ones creations. Worst-case, had none of the entries served the immediate purpose, it still would have made for a great community outreach effort … for the price of some pizza.

Selecting an approach

More often advisors choose one of two options:

  1. An online logo design service – typically $300-$700
  2. A traditional design agency – typically $1,500-$3,000

I’ve seen both approaches produce good results. Unlike with investment expenses, paying more will often get you better end results, improving your logo’s quality and how well it  interacts with the rest of your branding. It’s your judgment call whether more quality is worth the expense at this stage of your business’s development. (Pricing can vary widely, however, so take my ballpark figures with a grain of salt.)

Don’t try this at home

By the way, unless you actually have graphic design training, please, please don’t create your logo in-house. Homemade cookies are a fantastic idea. (In fact, I’m happy to share my mailing address with any of you who find you’ve over-baked for the holidays.) Homemade logos? Not so much. The results are usually reminiscent of those awful local TV commercials – the ones that make everyone cringe.

The online logo design service

Two popular services that offer logo design online are LogoTournament and Logoworks. As I suggested above, pricing is typically much more reasonable using an online service, and the results can be good. But the process will be less personalized, without much give-and-take discussion or attention to the details of your firm’s particular near- and long-term goals.

These and similar services walk you through their processes clearly, so for those interested in learning more, their web sites are a great resource. Generally speaking, though, you can expect to:

  • Provide some initial input about what you’re seeking.
  • Receive a number of design directions from which to choose.
  • Pick the one you like the best.
  • Work with them to refine it.
  • Be done.

Usually missing from the online logo design experience, however, is a broad and deep discussion of your firm’s comprehensive goals. If you’re able to lead the way to ensure that your logo is aligned with your goals, you will probably be fine. But if neither you nor your logo service has much sense of your big-picture context, results will vary.