Tips from The Logo Factory Designers.
The Logo Factory designers have been in the ‘trenches’ for years, with thousands of successful logo and corporate identity projects under their collective belts. With that in mind, who better to ask for a series of tips and pointers when it comes to developing great logos.
Here’s some design advice from some of the best designers in the field.
It should be noted that most of these tips are not absolutes (you’ll
probably be able to find examples in our logo design portfolio
that will contradict each and every one). They are, however, a decent
set of guidelines that will help you narrow in on the best logo for
your particular requirements.
Start out right.
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When you’re in the market to have a new logo developed, there’s always
the temptation to take some short cuts. Usually to save time, money or
a combination of both. Trouble is, most of these ‘cookie cutter’
solutions will turn out to be neither inexpensive or fast, and may
cause a ton of headaches down the road – especially when your fledgling
company starts to become more high-profile. Some examples? You may
think about using a clip art
logo (not a good idea – the image probably isn’t licensed for use as a
logo or if it is, is already being used by a load of other people). You
may think about downloading a logo template
(similarly not a good idea – as most of these template sites are
‘anonymous’ and you’re never going to be sure if the work is original. We’ve even found our client’s logos being passed of as a template.
And even if the work is legit, it certainly won’t be unique. The very
idea of ‘templates’ involves many people using the same design. And if
it is unique, the chances that you’ll get the correct formats are
slim). Hosting a logo design contest
has similar drawbacks and caveats. At the end of the day, there’s only
one effective way to design a unique, effective logo and that’s to work
with a seasoned professional with the experience to get your job right.
The Logo Factory is one such solution, but if you don’t elect to hire
us, this advice still rings true for the company or designer that you do hire. Once you’ve selected your designer it’s time to start the actual creative process. Some things to keep in mind.
Simple is sometimes better.
complex logo can be difficult to reproduce and more importantly,
difficult to remember. Better to have a simple version for your main
logo, and a souped-up version (like a beauty shot for example) when a
more complex version is appropriate, and/or the reproduction medium
allows. Take a look at our logo samples area to get an idea of what we created for others.
A logo doesn’t have to convey what your company does.
Think the McDonald’s Golden Arches. No hamburgers. Think the FedEx
logo. No trucks or planes (though a cool ‘hidden’ arrow). Think the
Nike swoosh. No sneakers or golf shirts. etc. While sometimes having a
logo that portrays an element of the company is appropriate, it’s often
better to have a logo that’s graphically void of detail – a logo that
can be adapted to whatever direction the company takes. Think the Apple
logo. True, it is an apple. But there’s no indication that it belongs
to a computer company. That’s a pretty cool thing – the Apple logo
looks just as cool on an iPod as it does on the top of a Powerbook.
Your new logo needs to reproduce at a variety of different sizes –
particularly on the smallish side. Overly complex logos
can ‘gum up’ when reproduced as a very small image. Think business
card, fax header. How about a key chain? Or a ballpoint pen? Take a
look at the Nike ‘swoosh’. Not a very
dynamic logo but it is recognizable on a shirt sleeve on the television
where a complex logo wouldn’t be. Think of your logo as a mega-sized
image as well. Like a billboard. Knowing how your logo is going to be
used, both in size and media, can help your designer create a logo
that’s appropriate in terms of complexity.
The aspect ratio (the relationship between the height and width of a
logo) is critical. A logo that is too tall and skinny, or too wide and
short, is not visually pleasing, and you’ll end up with all sorts of
layout issues when it comes to setting up your logo in artwork,
especially when combined with other graphic elements (ie: business
card, websites, etc). A logo that is closer to a ‘golden mean’ (almost
the aspect relationship of a business card) is much more pleasing and
more adaptable to working in other artwork. Square is pretty cool too –
circle logos are very strong visually due to their ‘square aspect
ratio’ (see her for more on logo aspect ratios & logo footprints).
Disconnecting icons and text.
If your corporate identiy is to feature both an iconic logo
and a textual treatment of your company name, it’s best to have the
elements as distinct pieces of artwork (as opposed to overlapping,
intertwining, etc). This way, you’ll be able to use either the text or
icon solo, and the logo will still stand up. As you’ve probably
noticed, The Logo Factory ‘house’ is placed solo at
the top right of every page of this website, though there is a font
treatment of the company name in a distinctive font that we use from
time to time. The two elements are actually pictured together in the
‘true’ version of our logo.
Your logo is for your audience.
Naturally, you want to like your logo (we’ve know lots of times were
people are reluctant to use their logo as they no longer ‘like’ it). On
the other hand, keep in mind that your logo is to appeal to your
customers, and should be created with them in mind. You may be the most
conservative person on the planet, but if you’re trying to market to
the hip-hop crowd, your sensibilities are probably different than your
‘audience’. A logo that you ‘like’ probably won’t appeal to them.
Your company’s essence and ‘theme’.
Your logo needs to portray the essence of your company. Are you a
serious company, or one that revels in being whimsical. Are you
appealing to a conservative set? Then a cartoon logo probably wouldn’t
be the best choice. Trying to brand a sports bar or an ice cream parlour?
Then a logo that would work for a financial institution probably won’t
cut it either. Understanding a particular industry’s ‘theme’ is
important, and where a designer’s experience comes into play.
Your logo has to have ‘instant impact’.
Your new logo will probably not have the luxury of being in your
audience’s eye for a lot of time. In fact, you probably have a few
seconds (at the outside) to ‘grab’ the viewers attention. If your logo
needs to be deciphered, or has an elaborate ‘back story’ (see metaphor
light) there’s probably little chance that it will communicate the
essence of your company, service or product effectively.
A tagline is nice, but not as part of your logo.
A tagline is the phrase or few words that describe a company, or the
company’s mission. Generally stated, taglines are featured under the
logo (or in circular logos – around the logo). They’re cool and all,
but it’s not advisable to include them in the initial design phases of
your logo. Wordy taglines will require a small font that will become
illegible at smaller sizes. Also, a tagline can create a lot of visual
clutter in many applications. It’s always better to have that ever-so
clever tagline as a separate element that you can add when appropriate,
or when doing so will not interfere with the design integrity of your
Strive to be ‘different’.
You’d be surprised how many clients have asked that we design logos
that are very similar to their competitors. Kinds misses the point, no?
The idea of your own logo is just that – your own logo. While it can be
helpful to look at logos that your competitors are using (or even
people in the same industry), this should never be used as a guide to
creating your logo. The idea here is to be different than your
competitors. To stand out in a cluttered marketplace. To have a logo
that’s better than theirs Or, at the very least – different.
Color is a secondary factor in your logo.
The most important part of your logo project is the design itself. Oh
sure, it’s nice to see your logo in the colors that you will eventually
use, but in the initial stages of any design process the colors are of
secondary importance. They can always be changed,or edited later. Now,
having said that…
Consider color choices carefully.
Whether you utilize a two spot color, or four color process
design will greatly impact any reproduction costs in the future. While
not critical in the initial design phases, your choice of corporate
color will have a ripple effect throughout all you corporate
‘look-and-feel’ material and is a decision that should not be taken
lightly in the final stages of the design process.
Some web colors cannot be reproduced.
In traditional media that is. And vice versa. Some WEB colors are
beyond a CMYK range – meaning that the color cannot be printed using
CMYK or Pantone equivalents. To make things more complicated, sometimes
WEB safe colors CAN be converted successfully. Best advice – if there’s
a particular WEB-safe color you wish to use, our designers will be glad
to tell you of it’s usability is outside of your monitor
Keep your logo ‘metaphor light’.
While it’s nice for your logo to actually ‘mean’ something (i.e. – this
color represents growth, this dot represents our product) sometimes
clients wish to write ‘War-and-Peace’ with their logo’s metaphors. An
overworked logo is not a pretty sight. The most memorable logos are
also the most simple; the memorable complex logos are often highly
rendered illustrations (see here for the anatomy of an illustrative
logo), not a bunch of geometric shapes. Dozens of swooshes, dots and
colors – all professing to ‘mean’ something will not mean anything to
the first time viewer even though it might be a ‘cool’ back story to
tell. Click here to see what makes a great logo.
Understand that your logo is just the beginning.
True, it’s an important beginning, but a beginning never the less.
Don’t expect your logo to single-handedly develop your company’s
‘brand’. Far from it. It is only by repeated use of your logo,
combined with graphical elements (your marketing artwork, ads, etc) as
well as the old-fashioned stuff (business ethic, customer service, etc)
that will create your ‘brand’ or corporate image. Having said that,
however, your new logo is the corner stone of these efforts, and its
pretty important to get it right.
Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.
You want to know why the Nike logo is so successful? Is it because it’s a ‘great’ logo? Far from it. Other than being remarkably simply, the Nike
‘swoosh’ is painfully uninspiring. No, the Nike logo is successful
because it’s been seen a cazillion times more than any other sports logos.
On TV. On the shirts of top athletes. On the sports equipment of almost
every professional sports team out there. Simply put, the Nike logo is
so successful because it’s been driven into our subconscious by
constant exposure. And that’s the same philosophy you should take with
your logo. Granted, you don’t have the promotional budget of giants
like Nike, Apple or FedEx,
but do what you can. Plaster your new logo everywhere. Every scrap of
paper that leaves your office should feature your logo. Put it on your
car (could be a tax write-off too). Letterheads, Brochure. Presentation folders.
Use your new logo until you’re sick of it. And then use it some some
more. In fact, that’s a pretty good rule of thumb – at the point you’re
getting sick of your logo (and you’ll be tempted to change it – see
next tip) it’s just starting to get some traction.
Don’t change. (Almost) never.
Once you’ve developed your logo, it’s in your best interest to keep it.
Brand recognition takes time (some studies state that viewers have to
see a logo three times – or more – before they’ll remember it the next
time). There’s an awful lot of logo clutter out there, so only be
repetition will your logo break through. If you’re going to change or update your logo,
think very, very long and hard about it. If you decide to go ahead,
then make sure you get it right that time. Changing a logo dramatically
more than once (in a short period of time) may tell your audience that
you’re flaky and unreliable. Not good in business.