Your logo is one of, if not the most important, elements of your brand past the service or product you provide!
1. Balance and Strength
Whether it is made of just text, contains a graphic or is a combination of both, a logotype is an icon. It should reflect your company’s personality, the essence of the heart and soul of your business. So during design it is important to keep not only your products and/or services in mind, but your audience.
2. Keep it Simple
Simplicity is essential. A logo with too much complexity will result in difficult reproduction and challenges during print which could ultimately result in a lack of proper engagement with your audience.
Consider brands that are recognizable to you daily because they have been created with vision. Companies like Apple, Target, Nike, Volkswagen and McDonalds probably come to mind. Famous brands such as these have in common that they are simple and easily recognized when they stand alone whether in color or solid black and white.
3. Make it Memorable
Keep in mind that your logo, if a graphic, does not always have to visualize what your company does? How often do you see a car as part of the logo for an auto manufacturer? And how silly would a picture of a shoe look on a shoe?
When icons are used in logo design, try to communicate with those that do not use the actual company name (examples: Y! for Yahoo! or the Swoosh for NIKE, or crowdSPRING’s springy guy!) This simplifies the use of the icon as a stand-alone image. A good example of such usage would be product shipping. The icon becomes your ‘mark’ that consumers can identify with if used correctly. If an icon has no mystery, or is too easy to ‘read’ than there is no sense of discovery or personal equity for the consumer. On the other hand, an icon that is too abstract can cause your message to be lost.
4. Flexible Viewing Capacity
Your logo design should be distinguishable on a venue such as a business card from 20 millimeters away, as well as on a large billboard from at least 100 meters. It should look good in all different size formats on a large cross section of marketing materials (business cards, brochure, t-shirt design etc.) whether it is applied through embroidery, stamping, embossing or other various formats.
An effective logo will work well on light backgrounds as well as dark backgrounds, even on multicolored backgrounds and should look good both in multi-color or black and white.
Often new or start-up companies make the error of using there logo on some of their marking materials but not all. Consistency is key and your logo should have the flexibility to be used across the board in multiple formats.
5. The Color Game
When considering the use of color in your logo, identify the messaging that color sends to the consumer. Does the color(s) strengthen and reinforce the core message/mood/personality that you want to portray, or are they distracting and neutralizing to what you want to communicate with your logo? Contemplate for instance that green represents life, nature and cleanliness, while blue is widely used in finance and banking. Also take into consideration how the colors will interact with both dark and white backgrounds. Often, even colored logos are printed in black and white so your goal should be to have a logo design that works in that format just as strongly, if not stronger than in color.
Many times people are drawn to using gradients; but although this may look attractive on the computer screen you must consider the implications of future uses of the logo in print and on merchandise. Will the gradient result in difficulty during reproduction in and on all types of media? Remember, consistency is key. A logo on a website or a side project can be more rasterized and colorful than something whose intent is to be printed in a variety of ways.
Don’t go color crazy. Three colors is a good top off point because too many colors will bring difficulty to reproduction. Although color printing has come a long way, too many colors definitely affect costs of production. If it is harder to use your logo freely, you will impact your consistency.
6. Create Timeless Impact
Fads can be deadly to a business. Trends are acceptable, but your goal is innovation. You want your logo to have a long life expectancy. Yes, your identity, and therefore, your logo will change over time, (consider Coca-Cola) but the longer it carries identity, its heart, and its personality, the better brand recognition you will get in the long run. An effective logo has a timelessness about it. If it is too anchored in a certain time period it will fade or feel outdated to the consumer. Logos like Nike, IBM, Apple etc., feel fresh and vibrant every time yet change very little.
7. Be Exclusive and Unique
Will the design of your logo make you stand out amongst the rest of herd? Does it distinguish you from the competition? The last thing you want is something predictable and bland. If it doesn’t create a spark in the consumer, it will be unmemorable and be invisible to your intended audience. There are billions of color combinations, an infinite tide of design concepts, and thousands upon thousands of fonts from which you can choose to make your logo unique.
Overused practices in the logo industry like “swoops,” “wooshes,” and “pinwheels;” have become cliché and you should avoid them. The use of clip art, unless significantly modified by the artist, should be avoided at all costs. It is very disheartening when you start noticing your base logo design, on other brands. Very quickly it gives you an identity of a second-rate and low-budget organization.
8. Typography Goals
What are you trying to communicate? Deep consideration with the use of typography can help tell your story. Considering application, typefaces with serifs convey a sense of dignity and power. Sans serifs come across often as more crisp and clean and can portray both stability or whimsy depending on the character of the face. Does the new face work with what you have already been using? Is it readable in both small and large sizes? Is the spacing of the letter and the words well adjusted? Remember that flaws will be more visible the larger the wording. Choosing the most influential typography is a skill in and of itself. It is the first voice that speaks about who you are and what you stand for. Make sure you are getting your money’s worth! There are some horrendous typefaces out there!
9. Importance of Branding
Always remember that the branding behind the logo is extremely important. You can’t compare your logo to famous brands. It is not the logo that made them famous; it was the people and the vision behind that logo that resulted in its success in the world of consumers.
10. Vector the Clean Graphic
When designing a logo or engaging the services of those in the design industry, always request vector based graphics! A suitably drawn vector design provides the ultimate flexibility. It’s common to think that complex illustrations in a logo bring strength to your company’s identity, but in any format other than a vector, any use outside of an on-screen/on-line applications other formats just don’t cut the mustard!