A plethora of different kinds of clients come to me for artwork, a lot of them already have an existing brand or logo that I will need to work around. On a day to day basis I will see so many different kinds of design – some good, some bad and a lot that are just plain ugly. Sometimes a good logo is the piece of a jigsaw a company is missing that could take them to the next level. The fact is a logo is supposed to symbol, something that represents your company in a visual way! It should be something that stands out, that creates a recognition between visual and company so that potential clients and the general public recognize you upon seeing your logo alone.
Every designer has their own process on how they approach their logo designs depending on the clients need. Some companies want a symbol, some want a symbol and typography and others like ‘coca-cola’ want a typographic logo that’s original, aesthetic and complete recognizable. What you should be looking for when purchasing or designing a logo is something timeless, that stays fresh every time you look at it and speaks to your brand. Today I’m going to go through some tips for great logo design to help both junior designers and clients alike tell the difference between good logo design and bad logo practices.
First off let’s be all positive and talk about the things you should be looking for in your logo design. As a designer these are some essential tips you’ll want to take into account when approaching your logo design and as a business owner this is what you should be looking for from your creative partnership.
Do your research and a clear brief
You don’t have to over complicate it, it doesn’t have to be pages long but it’s important before starting out you have some idea of the direction you want to go in – here are some important questions to ask yourself outright when providing or writing a brief.
What is your industry/business and who are the market leaders? This may not be the ‘fun’ part of the design process but it’s an extremely important one! If you don’t know who your company are as a whole then it will be hard to encompass that in your logo design. You’ll want to figure out and define your audience, who is it you’re trying to sell your product or services to? Answering these questions and combining it with research into current industry leaders will give you a great outline and starting point for your design.
Define the key components
Something I often like to do with a company before I start a logo design is define a few key words and terms that define their company or brand message. For instance if I was creating a logo for an investment firm they may want to express things like dynamism, power, strength and wealth. I would take these key terms and use them as inspiration when looking at my logo design.
Sketch out ideas, strive to be different!
The design process on a good logo can be a long road but you have to know it will all be worth it in the end. Sometimes it’s good to start to process putting pencil to paper. Your artwork doesn’t have to be perfect but at this point you will want to put together some rough concepts and ideas of how you might want to approach your design. Avoid being too literal and look more for metaphors and iconography that represents the business and it’s key themes.
Play around and have fun
It’s important to be original and the best way to do that is to play around with different styles and have fun with the design. Personally I usually provide a few original concepts some will be more extreme than others. It’s interesting the push the boundaries and see what becomes of the logo in these development stages
Get useful feedback
Feedback couldn’t be a more important aspect of design. It’s so useful to see how others see and interpreter your design and can add some much needed improvements and perspective. As a designer you have to know when to overrule a client if something isn’t a good idea or wouldn’t add to the aesthetic design of the logo but it’s always important to take into account where the client is coming from. Equally it’s useful to show other designers with other skill sets your logo designs to get a much needed third party perspective that isn’t as close to the project.
Create brand guidelines
Though this isn’t essential for all businesses, if you’re a mid to large size company and your logo will be used on a lot of marketing materials it’s worth putting in the extra effort when finishing up and create some proper brand guidelines. This is a document that outlines exactly how the logo should be used in any given scenario, setting out rules for colour, size and style, dos and dont’s and other useful information for future creatives using the logo or marketing agencies.
Pick a beautiful type face
If your logo will include some form of typography as it often does then you want to make sure you pick a beautiful font. Rather than looking for the latest font trend try and encapsulate the same creativity you used in your sketches to pick a font that fits the brand image. I often use my font as a starting point in my logo design because it can give me a good idea of how the line weight should look to make sure the imagery used and the type work in unison. I would usuually suggest creating a mood board with various type examples and discussing with the client to see what they feel fits their personality best.
Making sure it works at any size
When I’m working away I’m constantly zooming in and out. I always want to make sure that my logo works no matter how big or small. This is increasingly important int his day an age when logos have to be shrunk down to icon size or scaled to be printed on a huge billboard.
Study colour psychology
It is always important that a good logo works in both black and white and colour. These variations can be needed on any number of projects using your logo but when it comes to adding colour or picking a brand colour it’s incredible important to know what you’re picking and why. There’s theory behind colour, the human brain perceives things subconsciously and it’s worth doing some research to figure out how your brand colour will connect with your audience.
Now let’s talk about things you shouldn’t be doing with a logo design as a client or a designer!
Avoid too much detail
One of the worst things I see in bad logo designs is the use of far too much detail in the logo. Whether it’s badly placed gradients or overly complex shapes and images a logo should work big and small and be easily recognisable. More design doesn’t always mean better design. It’s always better to keep it simple as opposed to over complicating your logo.
Trends can be great, a new vector style appears and every designer and his designer dog are doing it but will it stand the test of time? Of course not, it is a trend after all and trends die out. It’s best to avoid them all together when it comes to logo design. You want something that will stand the test of time and trends are the complete opposite. This leads me into my next point
Changing your logo too often
You need to let your logo breath and stick with it. If your audience doesn’t have time to see, recognise and grow to know your logo and associate it with your brand then your new logo won’t be able to do it’s job. Stick with it and let that logo become the focal point of your entire company image.
Allow bad typography
If you’re going to include typography as part of your logo or even have a logo that is entirely typographical then you’re going to want a type face that is relevant to your company but also asthetically pleasing. Whether it’s a sans, serif or hand drawn type it’s important it looks good and fits with your brand image.
Use too much wording
Your tag line may be extremely important to you but no matter how witty or catchy there’s just no need for it to be on your logo. As much as the logo doesn’t need to be overcrowded in it’s design, too much wording is a big no no as well. leave the tag line for your other design materials but keep it out of your logo.
Use stock designs or clip art
There’s not much point in having a logo that’s openly available to any company with access to shutterstock or clipart. You don’t want a bland brand that’s been recycled a million times. Logo design can sometimes be expensive but it’s worth investing in something decent if it’s going to be seen for years by every single one of your customers. Don’t cheap out and let a designer use stock designs – it won’t do you any favours in the long run. Always choose a bespoke design over stock!
Use too many colours
The right colour can really make your logo pop but use too many and you’re going to face the same problem as using too much detail. Personally I always start my design process in black and white. If your logo doesn’t work in black and white as well as colour then it doesn’t really work as a logo design overall.
It’s great to do your research and look at relevant companies in your industry for some ideas but you want to avoid a logo that’s over influenced by another design. The idea of the logo is to stand out and be something different from everyone else in your industry but you don’t want to avoid it all together.
Be too literal
Creating the best logo isn’t always about spelling it out for the customer. When you’re thinking about your logo design you don’t always want to go with the obvious. Think about the logos and brands you’re familiar with, it isn’t always obvious or immediately relateable but when the metaphorpical meets your logo design it can be a thing of beauty!
Use too many fonts
As a rule on any design I’d rarely combine more than 2 fonts and logos are no exception. Sometimes a good font combination can really elavate the design but if you use too many fon’ts the whole thing will just end up looking a mess.
Here’s some top tips for getting the grooviest logo possible.
1.Always design as a high res vector
It is so important in this day and age that your vector is scale-able, if your logo is rasterized (No not like bob marley, this means an image that’s converted into pixels rather than a vector outline) when stretched to the size needed for print the blurring and quality loss will be huge. If you have a logo that isn’t a high res vector I’d highly suggest getting it re-drawn as one or getting a new design created all together. My program of choice for putting together logo designs and high res vectors is Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop does have vector capability but I find it a lot less robust and it’s not technically what the program was created for.
2.Print your final design off and let it sit with you
I good way to tell if you’ve got the right final design is to print the logo off and place it around your house and logo. If you can look at it day after day and still enjoy its aesthetics then you’re probably onto a winner
3.Don’t be afraid to be different
So many logos play it safe, in an attempt to be corporate or professional these attempts come out looking plain and boring which is the opposite of what we want. Yes the logo has to fit the company and audience but it doesn’t have to be boring!