"An image is not simply a trademark, a design, a slogan or an easily remembered picture. It is a studiously crafted personality profile of an individual, institution, corporation, product or service." - Daniel J. Boorstin

As a small business owner, you can’t afford to have a inconsistent, stale “visual brand.” The most successful freelancers we know (like Michelle Ward or Katie Lane, for example) invest effort and money in translating their personality or value into a visual design that remains consistent across websites, business cards -- even headshots.

If you’re ready to take your freelance career to the next level, invest in a design update, starting with your logo. This can get translated into an updated website/blog/business card, but first you need one small, easily recognizable and memorable icon that represents you. Here’s how to get started.

Wait, why does a little logo matter?

Still need convincing that your name in Times New Roman at the top of your invoices is NOT a sufficient logo?

Great logos mean money. Blunt and simplistic, but true. As Felicia Rothberg, a freelance graphic designer, explains:

Before a customer contacts your company they have an impression of you based partially on your logo. They may have seen it online or in print, in a directory or on a business card. If the logo is visually engaging and well designed, the potential client may choose you over the competition. Your logo can say a lot, either positively or negatively -- and is the first opportunity you have to peak the consumer’s interest.

-Felicia Rothberg

Get most of your work through word-of-mouth? Your current client is more likely to refer you if you look professional and your prospective client is more likely to listen to their friend if you look professional, so you still can’t escape having good design.

What makes a “good” logo?

According to Sagi Haviv, “A great logo is memorable, it’s appropriate to the brand, and it’s simple so it can work everywhere.”

You’re looking for something that represents your business physically, that fits who you are (isn’t too corporate and fits you, fun or geeky or playful or preppy, etc.), and will look fresh for a long time. This article from Blue Soda Promo gives some good tips for logo design.

If you’re a technologist, you probably want something that will convey speed or clarity. If you’re a career coach, maybe you want something playful and inspiring. There’s no such thing as the “perfect” logo - it has to fit you.

This video from PBSoffbook (a new video series that “explores cutting-edge art, internet culture, and the people that create it”) gives a fascinating look at why you need a logo and what makes a good one

OK, but how do I find a logo designer who gets me?

That’s a good question. A good logo designer should be a good listener: they should be able to hear what you have to say about your brand and listen to who you are as a person. Their job is to “get you.”

Look at their portfolio. If they always produce logos that look very similar, they’re not a good logo designer. If you find that although the logo looks nice, it has little connection with what the brand is trying to convey, they’re not a good logo designer. Find someone who seems to be able to take the time to get to know what you do.

Where should I put my logo?

Everywhere. On your website, business cards, invoices, Twitter, Facebook. It should serve to identify you before anyone even reads your name. The closer you tie your online presences to your logo, the more effective and memorable your visual brand will be!

Have you outsourced logo design to a freelancer? How was your experience?

Any logo designers amongst you? Let us know in the comments below so you can make your contact information available to our readers.