Category Archives: Newsletter

DIY Logo Design

Do-it-Yourself Logos – STOP


If you’re designing your own logo, STOP. You are not properly licensed and certified. That’s the topic this month.

Do-It-Yourself Logos

So if you’re designing your own logo, STOP. For the sake of humanity, please STOP.

This is overstating it, of course, but I see the bad results of DIY logos every week…sigh.

Simple Logos, CNN, Microsoft, Nokia, AdobeLogos seem so easy. Look at corporate logos like CNN, Microsoft and Nokia. They’re just SOOOO simple. Even Adobe, the top company in graphic design software, has a simple logo.

Why? Because it has to work in many different media: websites, business cards, brochures, tee shirts, hats, pens and everywhere they can put it. It should be easy to reproduce, even as a very small graphic on a pen.

Why Amateurs Fail

Most DIY logos fail because of one or a combination of reasons.

The designer includes too many concepts.

Simplicity is key, and that means you shouldn’t try to illustrate concepts and ideas.

Chiquita Banana Logo ExampleIt’s possible to capture a concept in the simplicity of a logo, but it’s not easy. Take the Chiquita Banana logo. The company created a version that works as a single color imprint on a small banana label–it’s small and it still illustrates the concept of a woman with a basket on her head.

Now, about that logo somebody whipped up for you? It looks great full-size, full-color, on a bright computer screen, but it won’t work as a small, one-color graphic. Trust me. I see it all the time. (Okay, maybe it will work, but I see this problem all the time.)

Unless you’ve studied printing, vector graphics, design, illustration and other related topics AND spend lots of time working through your ideas AND spend lots of time to make sure your logo works across many media, your logo is likely to have problems.

The designer wants something graphically fancy but doesn’t have the eye or experience for it.

Shadows, bevels, overlapping elements, gradients, lots of colors…these are great design elements and software makes it so easy. But the experienced logo designer knows that if these elements are used in a logo, they could make logo reproduction more complicated and in some cases impossible. If these elements must be included, the experienced designer knows how to use vector graphics properly, or the designer will create two versions…one with the fancy elements and another simple version for one-color printing.

The logo fails technically — it’s not in vector format or doesn’t work in certain media or sizes.

VECTOR…logos should be in vector file format. It’s just the way it is. When you need something fancy, that simple vector design can be embellished, but the original logo should be vector graphics.

Another technical problem is the size of the elements in a logo. A logo might look great when it’s big, but when you shrink it down to put it on a pen for instance, the text and graphic details merge together.

The design is horrible.

Some of the designs are just blah, horrible. Enough said.

You’re going to design your own logo anyway, right? It’s just so easy. Okay. Here’s how.

KEEP IT SIMPLE — Text only. Do not include any graphics.

If you think you must have graphics in your logo, STOP. Consider these logos: Ebay, Google, Nokia, Yahoo. All these logos are text. If it works for these giants, it can work for your DIY project.

  1. Go to
    Google fonts are licensed for commercial use for free. Many fonts on your computer and the internet are not licensed for commercial use without buying a commercial license. Some of the Google fonts are not the highest quality or have limited styles, but there are over 600 fonts. It’s a good starting point for DIY logos.
  2. Click in the sample text of any font. (Triple click to select all the text.)
  3. Type your company name or product name.
  5. Use the Google Fonts site to review and select a distinct font for your text logo.
  6. Call Pacesetter Media. We’ll take that font and your text, adjust letter and line spacing for the best look and create a vector file for you. It’ll run about $75-$150. Or do it all yourself. It’s up to you.

Bad-Logo Fun

When this blog post was created, there was a site called Your Logo Makes Me Barf, but it’s not working now. (Too bad. It was fun in a bad kind of way).

But you can always search Google for “bad logos”. You’ll find plenty.

Logo Design Flowchart

Many factors go into good logo design. Computer Arts magazine recruited designer Michael Johnson to create a flowchart for logo design. It illustrates the many factors at play. It’s a great tool for designers, and it shows why good logo design is not so easy.

Download the PDF Here

Promotion Scheduling

You could imagine that I deal with promotion scheduling on a regular basis. So that’s this month’s topic.

Steps of Promotional Projects

Before planning a promotional project, you should first have a promotional goal or problem you’re trying to solve. Presuming that, the sequence of a promotional project is something like this:

  1. Research options and costs, and decide to do the project.
  2. Craft the message, write the text and create the graphics.
  3. Design text, layout or video.
  4. Decision maker review of the design(s).
  5. Tweak and adjust the design and content.
  6. Repeat steps 3 thru 5, sometimes several times.
  7. Print or produce the finished product.
  8. Ship the product to you.

So how long does it take?

Planning Times

I use the term “planning time”. It’s an estimate that’s includes some time to “do it right” and is a little inflated in case there is a delay. The list below has planning times I suggest for typical promotional projects and commodities.

And earlier is even better because the commodity is one thing–the postcard, the website, the brochure. But what about the message you put on those commodities? That message is usually more important. Early planning means more time to generate ideas and refine your message. So earlier is a good idea, too.

 Simple – First Run
(Subsequent Runs)
Complex – First Run
(Subsequent Runs)
Business Cards2.5 weeks
(1.5 weeks)
4 weeks
(2.5 weeks)
Brochures3 weeks
(1.5 weeks)
8 weeks
(3 weeks)
Signs3 weeks
(2.5 weeks)
8 weeks
(3-4 weeks)
Website4 weeks3-6 months
Logo Design3 weeks8 weeks
Promo Items3-5 weeks
(2-3 weeks)
8 weeks
(3-4 weeks)
Logo Apparel3 weeks (2.5 weeks)6 weeks (and longer)
(4 weeks)
Trade Show3-6 months6-12 months
as early as possible
Photography2 weeks
(1 week)
3 months
(3 months)
Video3 weeks
(2 weeks)
2 months
(2 months)
New Branding Project3 months12 months

“Simple” means projects with a basic design or concept.

“Complex” means projects with extra features, high-end materials or complex design concepts.

“First Run” means the first creation and production of a project.

“Subsequent Run”, when applicable, means additional runs of the same project with very few tweaks or changes.

Post updated March 2019

Holiday Photography Tip: Bounce Flash

Greetings and Happy Holidays. I have a simple tip for better home pictures with almost any camera.

Bounce Flash for Softer Shadows

With the on-camera flash, the light and shadows are usually sharp and harsh. But hold a card at 45 degrees in front of the flash, and the flash bounces off the card then off the ceiling. It makes a bigger light source, better shadows and often more depth to the picture. It's just better light.

With the sample below, I used a Christmas card and a point-and-shoot camera something like this.

Bounce Flash Demo
Hold a white card at an angle in front of the flash.

And here are two sample shots.

(By the way, I was planning to photograph my nephews today for this demo, but the weather is threatening snow and rain here, so we canceled. I'm left with Homer Clause. It's small scale, but it still shows the difference.)

Holiday Image with Harsh Shadows
With direct flash, shadows are sharp, harsh and noticable.
Holiday Image with Soft Shadows
When you bounce the flash with a reflector, shadows are softer.

Notice how the shadows are much softer in the second shot. You can hardly tell that a flash was used. It works even better with people.

And a few more notes on this technique:

  • Your camera should be on AUTO or a similar setting so it compensates for the different amount of light on the subject.
  • If you bounce off a colored ceiling or wall, the picture may pick up that color.
  • Play around with it and experiment. Bounce the flash of a wall on the left or right. You'll probably find It works better in some situations than others.

Wishing You Happy Holidays and The Best in 2013

Finally, thanks for being a part of a great 2012 for Pacesetter Media. I could not have done it without you and all my clients, friends, associates and vendors.

And I wish you all safe and happy holidays and the Best in 2013.