Worship Media Arts

What to Insist on When Getting a Church Logo


Over the years, I’ve designed many logos for churches, non-profit organizations and secular companies. If you’re not careful, you may not get everything that you ordered, or you may find down the road you need your logo in a format that you don’t have.

I just finished a logo for Tipp City United Methodist church (don’t visit the site, the new logo isn’t there yet), and as I was building all of the various versions, I was reminded of an article I co-authored with Chris Johnson for my other company Simplifilm. This is an adaptation of that article:

It’s hard to imagine, but a lot of large companies and organizations have trouble with key details for their logos designs. Simple things like vector and transparent background versions can’t be found or don’t exist. When a ministry grows, decisions that made have been made long ago have a painful impact in the present and future.

So if you’re thinking about getting a logo, here are some tips to think about right from the beginning. These are intended to help you avoid major amounts of frustration. No more “what font did we use” hunts on places like WhatTheFont.

Ultimately, here are the things you want to have available for a finished logo:

  1. Vector based logos—even if styling was applied later.
  2. Fonts used for all logos.
  3. All text effects used in AE or Photoshop
  4. Photoshop and Illustrator original files.
  5. Examples in “the wild” of your logos.
  6. Multiple versions of your logo for different “treatments.”
  7. All this stuff in a .zip file for new creative teams to use along with a use case and display instructions.

Believe it or not, when it comes to your ministry, few things are as important to the perception of your church than your logo. You logo symbolizes who you are, what you’re about, your approach to ministry and can leave a lasting impression. It sets the tone before people even walk into your sanctuaries.

Most of us are not graphic designers, and, while it might be tempting to design a logo in house using a program like Microsoft Word or Powerpoint, it is almost always worth the time and expense to hire a professional designer to create your logo.

Here are 7 things to insist on when contracting for your logo design:

Root Your Logo in Symbolism and Meaning

It’s a good idea for you logo to tell some sort of story—or at least suggest a deeper meaning. Using icons to subtly suggest what you do, or in some way represent your vision is often better than simply choosing an eye-catching font or shape. While logos can certainly be effective without a deeper meaning, you can take your identity to the next level when symbolism is considered. One great place to go for inspiration is www.logopond.com.

Choose Unique, High Quality Fonts

Simply put, fonts are the foundation of a logo. It’s very important to choose distinctive, high quality fonts that you reserve for use primarily in your logo and not beyond. In other words, don’t use your logo font casually. It should stand apart. Also, “system fonts” are a big “no, no.” Avoid commonly used non-system fonts, so that your logo looks unique.

High quality fonts look great in print, on screen and in animated form.

Insist on Owning Your Fonts

Most logos don’t use custom typography. Unless your logo text is created from scratch, your designer will use free or commercially available fonts in your design. Most of the time, the last step in the process is to convert the font to artwork. This makes it so that actual font doesn’t have to be installed the user’s system, and it also “locks” the design so that things don’t get misaligned or misinterpreted. In addition to having a “converted to artwork” version of your font, you should also have your designer create a version with editable text, or at the very least, you should get the font name, point size, tracking and leading settings associated with it. You should also get a copy of the actual font from the designer (if the license allows for it) or you should purchase it on your own.

Include Styles and Effects

If your logo has any special effects like bevels, drop shadows, reflections or anything else, you should also request that your designer give you the logo with these things included so in the future, should you want to match the look for any other reason, you can.

Create Multiple Versions for Different Treatments

When you have your logo designed, your designer should provide a color version, a black and white with shades of gray/gradients version and a solid black version.

While you’ll most often use your color version, there will be times when your logo may need to appear in a black and white environment.

While you might think you can just “convert to black and white,” often the values from a color logo need to be tweaked when moving to black and white. Your designer will likely need to create a black and white with gradients and shades of gray version.

You’ll also want to get a solid black version. These come in handy when you want to do embroidery, screen-printing or other more limited presentation options.

Insist on a Vector Version

There are two different types of files formats that logos can be delivered in. The first is called “raster” or “bitmap” format. Basically this format is “locked in” at whatever size and resolution it is created at. If you scale it up, it will pixelate. A better more versatile format for logo design is the vector format. It is based on mathematical shapes that can be scaled infinitely without losing resolution.

Programs like Adobe Photoshop use the bitmap method of creation. There are many things that can be accomplished with a bitmap format where treatment is concerned that are not possible with vector programs. A designer often creates a logo in vector form and then moves it into a bitmap program to further treat it. Always request a vector format even if the final delivery involves a bitmap program.

Insist on a Transparent Version

One of the most common mistakes first time logo owners make is to only get a version over a white or another colored background. A logo over white works great on letterheads (on white paper), on blogs or websites (with white headers), but if the logo has to go over anything else (say a world-class demo video from Simplifilm), you really have to have a version with a transparent background. This applies to both vector and raster logo formats. The best most versatile formats are .PNG or .PSD. When it’s a vector file, .EPS is the preferred format.

Not requesting a transparent version may mean you have to spend more money paying an artist to recreate your already paid for logo, if you want to use it in ways not originally imagined.

A logo design can be a major investment, be sure and get all you paid for. In the end it will save you time and money, and it will ultimately make your symbol and enduring one.

If you’re interested in a logo, you can contact me here.

(original article posted August 22, 2011 at www.simplifilm.com)





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