Logo Design – Part 1

Now that products have been announced and the company website has a basic and temporary template published, I’m ready to move to the next stop on the corporate identity trail.

I need a company logo.

As several small business owners have already done before me, I plan on writing about my experience through this process. Their published experiences were entertaining, informational, and inspirational for me. Maybe I can add a bit to the information pot with my trip as well.

I’ve had my eye out for the right graphic designer for quite some time — ever since I decided to start developing games and software through my company. But, I had no idea where to start.

First, I looked at the discount logo sites around the net. Their product looked okay, but I didn’t find anything that looked unique enough for my tastes. They looked generic and common.

About this time, I discovered Ian Landsman’s blog and he had just started writing about his experiences having his company logo designed. His transparent approach to accomplishing this important step in the life of a company really helped me move forward.

Since then I’ve been collecting links for designers that I felt would fit the style and professionalism I’m looking for.

Earlier this month, I narrowed my list down to four candidates and fired off an email to each. All four exchanges surprised me and became a valuable learning experience (I’ve already written about the initial replies I received from each designer).

Of the four designers I contacted, one never responded at all. It’s possible that my email was never received, but a lack of even a courtesy response after two weeks was very disappointing. At least this narrowed my candidates down to three.

The second elimination came from the designer I was initially most excited about. His style and experience was unique and exceptional. I really felt like he was the one. He also was the only one of the four that had the autoresponder for the contact form on his website.

The next morning I received an email from him stating that he could not work for me because he was currently employed by a design firm. If I was interested in having a logo designed, I should contact their sales department for a quote. Though, a bit disappointed with the response, my intention was to do just that.

Then came responses from the last two designers. Probably not coincidentally, they were both found through recommendations by small business owner’s blogs.

The two responses were completely different in style and price. They were each targeting different needs and budgets.

After reviewing both designers’ proposals, prices, and portfolios, I decided to use both of them.

Through Ian Landsman’s logo story, I found Mike Rohde of MakaluMedia to work on my company logo. His prices, proposal, and design process seem to be a better fit for my company logo project. The project will comprise of the logo design along with a stationary suite option that includes letterhead, business card, and envelope.

For my Bullfrog game project, Jordan Langille of BuyIcons.com was a better match. I found Jordan through Ian M Jonesarticles on the icon design for his application, CaseDetective for FogBugz.

I’ll be chronicling the design of the game icon and graphics on my Make Mac Games blog.

Stay tuned here for progress on the design of a company logo.

Update [January 16, 2006]

Read part two of this series on designing the company logo.

Document Management

One of the great joys of running a business is dealing with all the paperwork.

Bills, taxes, meeting minutes, email correspondence, invoices, checks, bank statements, payroll, the list goes on.

It’s a small wonder how a small business, especially a MicroISV, can survive. There’s hardly enough time during the day to develop your product and work on marketing. Add on paper work and we need to tack on a few extra hours to the clock.

Once we do find time to do the paper work, what do we need to keep for our records? The IRS (or equivalent in other countries) can audit us for up to three years after we file taxes, or is it five years? I can’t keep track. What about if I need to get a small business loan? How far back will the bank want to see my financial records? Three years? Five?

I don’t have any magic bullets to solve this problem (if you do, please let me know), but I can share with you what I do.

I purchased a Canon Pixma MP780 all-in-one printer/scanner, but I’m sure there are plenty of alternatives that would also work. Then I ordered the biggest RAID hard disk system I could afford and set out to scan every document that passed my desk and lived in my filing cabinets.

I scan everything: bills, invoices, tax forms, payroll reports, bank statements, etc.

It all gets scanned, run through OCR and saved as a PDF. This allows Apple’s Spotlight to serve as my search and lookup mechanism. I save the files in a directory structure that breaks down type of paperwork (expenses, income, etc), then by year, and then by source/destination (IRS, Bank, Client, etc).

How long do I need to keep these documents? I don’t care. I just keep them forever. Disk space is cheap enough that I can. If I’m ever audited, need a loan, or want to create a new budget, all my information is on my hard drive and safely backed up. You do backups don’t you?

Plus, I don’t have to fill my office space with extra filing cabinets. Things are easier to find and faxing documents couldn’t be easier.