Before your customers know anything about you, they’ve probably seen your logo.

What do people say about first impressions?

When I had to create a logo and tagline for our Outrageous Success movement on Facebook. I did not want to rush the process for two reasons. First, I understand its importance and second, a good logo conveys a lot of information, often in a fairly abstract format.

Sometimes you need to really think deeply and give yourself enough time to understand what it is you’re communicating.

If you don’t have a logo for your business or are considering a new business, here are some points to ponder as you make your choice.

What a logo should do

Good logos say a lot about your business and they communicate on various levels. When coupled with a tagline, they can speak more directly to people. Here is what a good logo can do for you.

Establish a brand identity. This is the first thing a well-designed logo will do for you. When customers see it, they think automatically about your business.

Give your business a professional and established look. A good logo takes your business to the next level above “a person with a business card.” People should subliminally think, “This must be a real company. It has a strong logo.”

Communicate what you do. Potential customers should look at your logo — and perhaps your tagline — and see that you offer something they may need.

Build loyalty. The repeated exposure to your logo should remind customers of your exemplary customer service or top quality line of products. If you have created a positive business relationship with people, they will be reminded of that every time they see your logo.

Basic logo designs

Highly successful companies have different approaches to logo design and they fall into four basic categories. No single category is inherently superior to any other, although some may be easier to conceive.

Type based. Your logo could be a typographical treatment of your business name. Facebook and Sony would be examples of this style. The big ones are the business equivalent of single name celebrities, like Oprah.

Illustrations. Other businesses use an illustration that communicates who they are. The purest of these might be the logos of some professional sports teams, such as the St. Louis Cardinals and Denver Broncos.

Abstract. We all know the Nike swoosh. We never need to see the name of the company. Further, its design has come to communicate speed and athleticism.

Hybrids. Often type will be combined with either a realistic illustration or abstract design.  The type may be the name of the company, a tagline or both.

Color me customer-centric

The colors you choose for your logo are as important as the design. Colors communicate on a very instinctive level and you have to keep this in mind as you select your design.

Far too many small business owners just go with colors they like. When you think you have a good basic color you want to use, do an online search for color schemes and you can find other colors that will go along with it.

Whether you decide to try to design your own logo, find a local designer or connect with a freelancer over the Internet, these points should help you decide the direction you need to go and help you recognize a winning design.

About the Author: Susan Solovic is THE Small Business Expert. Sign up for Susan’s Success Tips Newsletter and get your free copy of “Smart Marketing Strategies for Small Biz” ebook.