Designing a logo looks easy, but there is a lot of detail and decision making involved in creating the perfect logo to represent your brand. Here are the ten things that need most attention:
This cannot be stressed enough: A logo has to work on every surface and at every size. You have to make sure the logo does not lose its integrity. It has to look good, strong and represent the brand everywhere — from a billboard to a business card. Customers, existing and potential, should be able to recognise it immediately. Logos should also look good on computer and mobile devices, and they should be easy to use in animations.
The shape of a logo is an obvious one, but still really important. Shape affects how a logo occupies space and how it interacts with other elements in a design so it must be flexible across formats. To use design parlance, how the logo locks up with the type and different lockups for different contexts is an important consideration. For example, if you have a really wide logo, it will not work very well in a social media avatar, but can occupy a space better than a narrow logo without totally overshadowing the other elements.
Typefaces matter a lot in a logo design, especially if your logo is a wordmark. Different typefaces convey different emotions. The same words written in different typefaces will be perceived differently by the audience. Compare “Facebook” written in Klavika Bold (logo version) to the one written in Helvetica Bold. They both say the same thing, but one feels exciting, inviting and friendly, while the other seems like a static, corporate mark with no character.
A logo should be effective in a black and white colour scheme, but the actual colour of the logo is still important. Colour brings the logo to life. The same logo with a different colour scheme just doesn’t feel the same. Constant use of the same colour in a brand’s identity goes a long way in stamping a brand into a customer’s mind; logos are supposed to create a consistent look and image for a brand. Colour also sets a brand apart from its competitors as in the example of Coca-Cola (red) and Pepsi (blue) or PlayStation (blue) and Xbox (green).
Simplicity is key in any logo. Complex logos are simply bad:
– They are costly to reproduce
– Do not work at all sizes
– Cannot be transferred to different surfaces and mediums
– Are not memorable because of the clutter.
Simple logos also never get old; they are timeless pieces of work and do not need to be changed every few years.
A symbol gives a logo a story, and thus makes it more than just a bunch of shapes put together. For example, the three-point star of the Mercedes-Benz logo which stands for dominance over the three types of transport: seas, land and air. Symbols influence how a logo is interpreted by an audience, and help them understand the concept behind the logo and the values and vision of the brand. Colours in logos can serve as symbols too: the colour green is used in a lot of logos to convey an environment-friendly product or service.
“Leave trends to the fashion industry” is a phrase that is commonly thrown around by recognised graphic designers, such as David Airey, when talking about logo design. Logos need to be original. They need to stand apart from the competition and should not look like every other logo one sees on the internet. Do not fall into the trap of cliches and trends. Your logo should be focussed on the brand itself, not a particular style that you want to incorporate. This will also make sure that your logo doesn’t get out of trend.
A logo that is not memorable is not a good logo. Simplicity ties in with this because it gives the customer only one detail to focus on, and they remember that one unique detail forever. Take the Grey Advertising logo for example. It was designed by Ivan Chermayeff of Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv. You expect a logo for a company called “Grey” to feature the colour grey, but Chermayeff went for a completely different approach and made the colour of the logotype red.
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What if the above logo was the logo for Target Corporation? How would you feel about Target as a store and what would be your idea of the products they sold? The above logo is more appropriate for a shop that sells firearms and ammunition rather than a discount retail store. The actual logo for Target uses the Helvetica typeface to give a friendly, inviting and trustworthy feel. But just because a logo is appropriate doesn’t mean it’s the most effective. A shopping cart would be a relevant logo, but would it be the best identity? No. A logo doesn’t have to say what the brand does, it just has to identify it.
Even after you have followed all of the steps, you have to make sure that your logo does not look ugly. The Capital One logo does not necessarily fulfill all the aspects of a good design, but it is a good example of a bad looking design. The logo is incoherent, random and not suitable for a big bank like the one it represents. Aesthetics are important to humans. A bad looking logo can never be a good logo no matter how hard it follows each and every logo design guide ever published.
Designing a logo is no easy job, but this guide will make it a bit easier. So the next time you design a logo or even want to choose a logo for your brand, refer back to this guide and make or choose the best logo you can.
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