The logo is one of the most important parts of a business but the question is how to create an effective one? In this article I’ve quoted/included almost all the important factors that makes a good yet effective logo.
By completing this topic, your idea will be clear in the following terms:
What is a logo?
The basics that every logo designer should know
What are the characteristics of a great Logo / What makes a good logo?
Common mistakes in logo design
What is a logo?
A logo is a graphic mark or emblem commonly used by commercial enterprises, organizations and even individuals to aid and promote instant public recognition. Logos are either purely graphic (symbols/icons) or are composed of the name of the organization.
Or simply we can define logo as:
logo identifies a company or product via the use of a mark, flag, symbol or signature.
It should be noted that rarely a logo may not describe a business.
The basics that every logo designer should know
Research, research, research…
Research is everything. It’s your first and last name, as well as your food and bed, when you are creating a brand.
Research is the most important part of designing a logo, and branding as a whole. Logo design with strong branding focus can easily push the limits of a five-figure budget primarily due to extensive research.
Whether you are a solo freelancer or part of a branding team, your client’s target audience will heavily influence the decisions you make and the direction your design goes towards. Understanding a company’s marketing strategy is as important as placing the keystone in a building foundation. Research encompasses everything from typography selection to presenting to a focus group.
A strong name is recognizable
Giving an identity a name and then giving the name a face. These are your bottom line goals when planning out your design. In that order. A strong name, with or without a mark, has to be recognizable without any taglines. It must carry weight of its own.
For the life of me, no one can remember my last name, much less how to pronounce it (it’s Mekkaoui by the way). But, say for example, I had you write it and pointed out that it included all the vowels in the alphabet, then you might remember me next time you come across it.
In branding however, we don’t have that luxury. I would have to be able to catch your attention as you zipped down the supermarket aisle. Hence, I made a short, rare name that I identify myself with and use persistently all over the web: Imokon.
When Coca-Cola briefly changed their formula in 1985, people flipped over sabotaged history. Can you imagine their reaction if Coca-Cola changed their name to Sanscoca Fizzola? Exactly.
Coming up with a strong name can either be fun or a complete burden. Regardless of whether it’s made up (Skype), a misspelling (Google), or a simple word (Borders, Apple); it all goes back to marketing strategy.
The logo is the first impression, of not just who a company is, but how trustworthy it is – and in turn, how much a consumer will open up.
It is very probable that one of three thoughts will go through your mind:
- This place has a crappy Disney-esque logo.
- Is this a Disney company too?
- What’s the point?
…to which I’ll answer: the first two possible answers are exactly what I mean about “face”. That bubbly calligraphy used in the signature Walt Disney logotype is so well branded that the word “Disney” is all that you would think of.
This is the difference between “This is a trustworthy site because it’s obviously Disney’s” or “This is a spam site and they couldn’t have made it more obvious”.
A good logo is distinctive and unique
A strong logo, like a handsome face, does not tell you what’s inside; rather, it is a strong distinction amongst the masses, despite impersonation.
The creativity in designing a logo is not focusing on the subliminal—or the art—it’s in making an impact. The subtle hints come naturally after the fact.
Details can make or break your design
In designing a logo do not go in details, keep it as simple as you can, as readable as possible, as interactive as you can and…
What are the characteristics of a great Logo?
What makes a good logo?
What Makes a Logo Great?
Milton Glaser, the legendary graphic designer best known for the “I Love New York” logo, says that it has to do with simplicity. “You want to move the viewer in a perception so that when they first look at [the logo]…they get the idea, because that act between seeing and understanding is critical,” he recently told the graphic design blog Design Informer. We expanded Glaser’s point and compiled a list of four characteristics that distinguish great logos from the legions of the not-so-great.
Make it simple
A simple logo design allows for easy recognition and allows the logo to be versatile & memorable. Good logos feature something unique without being overdrawn.
Following closely behind the principle of simplicity, is that of memorability. An effective logo design should be memorable and this is achieved by having a simple, yet, appropriate logo.
Make It Unique
Your logo should stand out and be recognized among the slew of others in the same market space. Matt Mickiewicz, co-founder of Sitepoint.com, suggests staying away from overly used icons, like globes and arrows. And according to graphic designer David Airey, you should keep in mind that a logo doesn’t need to say what a company does. “The Mercedes logo isn’t a car. The Virgin Atlantic logo isn’t an aeroplane. The Apple logo isn’t a computer,” he writes on the popular logo design site Logo Design Love. So don’t feel like your coffee shop’s logo needs to show coffee beans.
Make It Adaptable
Strong logos translate well across different mediums. Will your logo evoke the same meaning on a business card as it will on a billboard? “Keeping the design simple allows for flexibility in size,” writes Airey. “Ideally, your design should work at a minimum of around one inch without loss of detail.” Mickiewicz adds that when a logo does not reproduce well on a small scale it causes problems for a brand’s clarity and value. Also keep in mind that it should reproduce well in black and white; the fax machine isn’t going away any time soon.
Make It Appropriate
Before embarking on any sort of marketing campaign, you must first nail down your target audience. A logo needs to accurately reflect a company’s culture and values: the company’s essence. “Designing for a lawyer? Ditch the fun approach. Designing for a kid’s TV show? Nothing too serious,” writes Airey. Doing some market research is critical, too. Mickiewicz warns that color is a major attribute in determining the appropriateness of a logo design. “Different colors are associated with different meanings in different cultures. It’s important to think about how the colors in your logo reflect your brand values and the services or products you sell,” he says.
Make It Timeless
Milton Glaser created the “I Love New York” logo in 1975. Thirty-six years later, shirts and tchotchkes bearing that ubiquitous emblem still line the walls of gift shops around the world. “I did the bloody thing in 1975, and I thought it would last a couple of months as a promotion and disappear,” said Glaser in a 2009 interview for Big Think. Eddie Opara, a New York-based partner with the international design firm Pentagram, says that it’s the neutrality of a design that makes a logo timeless, citing the NBC Universal logo as an example. “You look at the clean lines, the symmetry, the modernist structure, the neutrality behind it…and it really exposes the timeless quality,” he says. Even though it’s been changed over the years, the timeless elements remain.
Make it Versatile
An effective logo should be able to work across a variety of mediums and applications. The logo should be functional. For this reason a logo should be designed in vector format, to ensure that it can be scaled to any size. The logo should be able to work both in horizontal and vertical formats.
Ask yourself; is a logo still effective if:
- Printed in one colour?
- Printed on the something the size of a postage stamp?
- Printed on something as large as a billboard?
- Printed in reverse (ie. light logo on dark background)
Common mistakes to be avoided in logo design
Designed By An Amateur
A professional business should look professional. New business owners often invest a lot of time and money in property and equipment, but do not often match it by investing suitably in their logo.
Here are the most common reasons why many logos look amateurish:
- The business owner wanted to save money by designing the logo quickly themselves.
- A friend or relative who claims to know a little about graphic design does it as a favor.
- The wrong people are commissioned. (Local printers are not likely proficient in logo design.)
- The business outsourced the job via one of several design competition websites, which are mostly populated by amateur designers.
- The job was given to an online company that offers really cheap logos.
All of the above can result in disastrous outcomes. If your logo looks amateurish, then so will your business. A business should know where to look when it wants a new logo.
Here are the advantages of hiring an established and professional logo designer:
- Your logo will be unique and memorable.
- You won’t run into any problems down the line with reproducing it.
- Your logo will have a longer lifespan and won’t need to be redesigned in a couple of years.
- Your logo will look professional.
Relies On Trends
Trends (whether swooshes, glows or bevels) come and go and ultimately turn into cliches. A well-designed logo should be timeless, and this can be achieved by ignoring the latest design tricks and gimmicks. The biggest cliche in logo design is the dreaded “corporate swoosh,” which is the ultimate way to play it safe. As a logo designer, your job is to create a unique identity for your client, so completely ignoring logo design trends is best.
Uses Raster Images
Standard practice when designing a logo is to use vector graphics software, such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. A vector graphic is made up of mathematically precise points, which ensures visual consistency across multiple sizes. The alternative, of course, is use to raster graphics software, such as Adobe Photoshop. A raster graphic — or bitmap, as it’s commonly called — consists of pixels.
Using raster images for logos is not advisable because it can cause problems with reproduction. While Photoshop is capable of creating very large logos, you never know for sure how large you will have to reproduce your logo at some point. If you zoom in enough on a raster graphic, it will appear pixelated, making it unusable. Maintaining visual consistency by making sure the logo looks the same in all sizes is essential.
The main advantages of vector graphics for logo design are:
- The logo can be scaled to any size without losing quality.
- Editing the logo later on is much easier.
- It can be adapted to other media more easily than a raster image.
Contains Stock Art
This mistake is often made by business owners who design their own logo or by amateur designers who are not clued in to the laws on copyright. Downloading stock vector imagery from websites such as VectorStock is not a crime, but it could possibly get you in trouble if you incorporate it in a logo.
A logo should be unique and original, and the licensing agreement should be exclusive to the client: using stock art breaks both of these rules. Chances are, if you are using a stock vector image, it is also being used by someone somewhere else in the world, so yours is no longer unique. You can pretty easily spot stock vectors in logos because they are usually familiar shapes, such as globes and silhouettes.
Designing For Yourself Rather Than The Client
Never impose your own personality onto a client’s work.
You can often spot this logo design sin a mile away; the cause is usually a designer’s enormous ego. If you have found a cool new font that you can’t wait to use in a design, well… don’t. Ask yourself if that font is truly appropriate for the business you’re designing for? For example, a great modern typographic font that you just love is not likely suited to a serious business such as a lawyer’s office.
Some designers also make the mistake of including a “trademark” in their work. While you should be proud of your work, imposing your personality onto a logo is wrong. Stay focused on the client’s requirements by sticking to the brief.
Highly detailed designs don’t scale well when printed or viewed in smaller sizes.
What better analogy for thumbnail images than fingerprints? You’ll notice the intricacies of your fingerprints only when looking at them really close up. As soon as you move away, those details are lost. The same holds true for highly detailed logo designs.
When printed in small sizes, a complex design will lose detail and in some cases will look like a smudge or, worse, a mistake. The more detail a logo has, the more information the viewer has to process. A logo should be memorable, and one of the best ways to make it memorable is to keep things simple. Look at the corporate identities of Nike, McDonald’s and Apple. Each company has a very simple icon that can easily be reproduced at any size.
Relies On Color For Its Effect
This is a very common mistake. Some designers cannot wait to add color to a design, and some rely on it completely. Choosing color should be your last decision, so starting your work in black and white is best.
Every business owner will need to display their logo in only one color at one time or another, so the designer should test to see whether this would affect the logo’s identity. If you use color to help distinguish certain elements in the design, then the logo will look completely different in one tone.
Poor Choice Of Font
Font choice can make or break a logo.
When it comes to executing a logo, choosing the right font is the most important decision a designer can make. More often than not, a logo fails because of a poor font choice (our example shows the infamous Comic Sans).
Finding the perfect font for your design is all about matching the font to the style of the icon. But this can be tricky. If the match is too close, the icon and font will compete with each other for attention; if the complete opposite, then the viewer won’t know where to focus. The key is finding the right balance, somewhere in the middle. Every typeface has a personality. If the font you have chosen does not reflect the icon’s characteristics, then the whole message of the brand will misfire.
Bad fonts are often chosen simply because the decision isn’t taken seriously enough. Some designers simply throw in type as an afterthought. Professional font foundries, such as MyFonts and FontFont, offer much better typeface options than those over-used websites that offer free downloads.
Has Too Many Fonts
A logo works best with a maximum of two fonts.
Using too many fonts is like trying to show someone a whole photo album at once. Each typeface is different, and the viewer needs time to recognize it. Seeing too many at once causes confusion.
Using a maximum of two fonts of different weights is standard practice. Restricting the number of fonts to this number greatly improves the legibility of a logo design and improves brand recognition.
This is the biggest logo design mistake of all and, unfortunately, is becoming more and more common. As mentioned, the purpose of a logo is to represent a business. If it looks the same as someone else’s, it has failed in that regard. Copying others does no one any favors, neither the client nor the designer.
Justcreative.com, sixrevisions.com, netmagazine.com, wikipedia.org