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Having your store associated with the eBay brand can be beneficial, but running a profitable eBay store requires a careful balance between leveraging the eBay brand, and also promoting your own. Rather than have potential customers say generically, "I bought it off eBay," your goal should be that they say they bought it from your store in particular. One way to reinforce your own eBay store brand is to create an iconic, memorable logo for your eBay store.
Paint and Other Basic Tools
Before spending big money on high-end design tools, look at what is already on your computer. The Paint program offers basic drawing functionality, and might be best used when enhancing an existing logo or incorporating an existing image into a new design. Clicking the "Paste" dropdown menu and then "Paste from" will let you place an existing image onto the drawing space, make minor edits, and superimpose text. Shapes can be added and manipulated from the "Shapes" menu, and colors can be applied easily. Although multiple fonts are available, features like wrapping text around the image are not available. Microsoft Word, though not a design program, can still be used to build a logo with images, with more options for text formatting and the ability to save in graphical formats.
Advanced Design Tools
Other tools like Microsoft Publisher, Adobe Illustrator, or Photoshop will afford greater flexibility and more options, the ability to save it in vector format to allow for scaling to a larger size without pixelation, and the frequently used Pen tool available in Illustrator and Photoshop. A free option that may not have the high-end features of Photoshop but still offers more than Paint, is GIMP, which offers a more complete set of painting tools with other features like photo retouching and image composition.
These tools will also allow for more sophisticated typography. The character of the company name in the logo can be altered with addition of tracking and kerning. For example, a company name in a sans serif font that is widely kerned will often appear more elegant.
Tips for Making a Perfect Logo
Before diving in on the computer, start on paper with rough sketches to serve as a guide while using your software of choice. After the design is complete, write a "style guide" that shows CMYK colors, font names, and other specifics, to ensure brand consistency whenever your logo may need to be re-created. Even big companies with deep pockets can make mistakes though, and high profile logo designs can still fall flat. Olive Garden's new logo was widely criticized when they replaced an older attractive font with a primitive handwriting script, dropped the textured background, and inserted a new vine that appears to be clip art. Careful planning, appropriate font selection, and original artwork will all make for a better logo.
Letting Somebody Else Do It
Depending on available budget, bringing in a professional might be a better option. While a Madison Avenue ad agency may charge tens of thousands of dollars, local providers may be a lot more affordable. Beware of bargain logo mills on the Internet though. Logos are available for as little as ten dollars, but are usually little more than a tweaked piece of clip art with your company name attached to it. A recent trend that has met with mixed success is launching "contests" that are open to the public, though the biggest concern there is that such crowd-sourced projects attract amateurs who may not have the skills and experience required to create a truly great logo and you are still forced to pick a winner and be stuck with a sub-par logo.
Uploading the Logo to eBay
eBay provides useful and easy tools for building an eBay store, including tools for uploading your freshly-made custom logo. First of all, make sure your logo is 310 x 90 pixels. Use an online service, or eBay's Picture Manager, to store the logo image, and then you're ready to upload. Just go to the "My eBay Summary" page and click "Manage My Store." The "Store Logo" section under "Basic Information" gives you the "Use my own logo" option accompanied by a radio button. Click the button, then enter the URL of the logo, and click "Save Settings." The new logo will then be displayed on your eBay store.
Dan Blacharski is CEO of Ugly Dog Media, a full-service marketing and PR firm focusing on emerging technology and disruptive trends. A "dotcom boom" veteran and graduate of University of California, he is at the forefront of the next wave of innovation that is driven by new cloud enabling tech.