Whether you're a one-person band operating out of your spare bedroom, or you're a Big Dog with your own building and staff, establishing and maintaining your "corporate look" is of critical importance in your marketplace—whether you're working on a local, regional, or national scale.
Lots of our business is conducted at the customer or client's home, office, or at a local eatery. It's expected that we'll bring our services to them; rarely, in our business, do clients prefer to meet us in our office. That means you're "carrying your office"--your entire corporate image--with you wherever you go to do business. Your image is a multi-faceted thing, too complex to address in a single column.
Let's talk about a small but important part of that image: your logo.
Yes indeed. You spend a lot of time talking to potential customers, and who knows when they'll call you back to schedule a video job? Sometimes it's a year or more from your initial meeting. Meeting with them, even if it's for five minutes, is an opportunity. Which means it's your opportunity to leave them with a favorable image of you--your business card, complete with stunning logo.
Why is your logo so important? Essentially, it's a graphic shortcut that helps people remember you. (Think of the Nike swoosh, the McDonald's golden arches, the CBS "eye.") Sometimes it's a symbol. Other times, it's your name, done in a neat typestyle (we call these "logotypes.") Sometimes, it's both a symbol and a name. As I've said before, there are many factors to consider when you're trying to establish yourself as a professional and trusted resource for video services. Having a good corporate image is one of these, and it's a critical one.
Look at your logo objectively. Does it intrigue you? You wouldn't use outdated equipment; don't let an outdated corporate image let you down, either. One of my pet peeves is so many videographers use a big image of a camera on their business cards and their promotional materials. It says what you do, but who cares about camcorders (particularly which one you use), except video producers and tech-heads?
Does your logo say something besides "Here's a camera"? A bride isn't purchasing a camcorder from you-she's asking for terrific wedding memories. Incorporate some element of what you do into your logo, or some aspect of your personality. Maybe it's a star; maybe stylized wedding bands; maybe it's a photograph or even an illustration of you at work.
If you've got good design skills and the software to do the job, you can always come up with your own company logo. But be sure to show your results to a few friends-both male and female-and get their input. If you get negative feedback, don't take it personally. Design is subjective. But keep in mind it's not all about what you like; you're not the one that your logo needs to impress.
If you can't do the design yourself, hire it out. Find a local graphic designer who specializes in logos. Ask to see some samples before you commit. Designers vary widely in their competence levels, as well as their prices. Do a little online research, check out the phone book, or call a fellow local businessperson to get a reference.
Find a designer that you feel you can work with easily so you can communicate your ideas. A lot of designers listen carefully to your best ideas, then go off on their own and do what they think you should have. If you're unsure, ask a few other people for their opinions of your logo-in-process.
Expect to pay from $100 to $500 for a custom-designed logo. Rates vary widely. Designers often will trade graphic services for video services, or give a generous discount if you can pass work along to them. I keep my ears open when working with clients to see if there's something else they need for marketing—Web site design, brochures, postcards, packaging--and I pass those jobs along to good designers who've helped me out in the past.
As with any aspect of your business, outsourcing logo design is partly dictated by what you can afford. I'm on a budget like most everyone else. I'd rather be spending my money on new equipment, too-so even though I understand the importance of this type of investment, I try to buy smart when I'm upgrading my professional image.
Terrific, inexpensive logo-designing services abound online. For example, www.gotlogos.com will create your personalized logo for under $60, including providing you a high-resolution TIF file. Or try www.logoeyes.com, a fun and easy online logo design wizard that helps you build your own logo instantly for just $99. Logo design software like that found on www.thelogocreator.com will enable you to produce quality logos with that Photoshop-guru look, with prices starting at $14.95.
Once you've got a good logo, flaunt it. Make sure it goes everywhere-your equipment decals, your vehicle signage, your business cards, your Web site, your letterhead and envelopes, and your contracts. Consider getting a jacket or shirt with your logo embroidered over the breast pocket, too. There's nothing worse than building a good image for your videography business utilizing that great image-building identity to the fullest extent.