10 Logo Design Tips For Buyers – Community Guide Ross Kimbarovsky | August 6th, 2008
An amazing community of creatives works on crowdSPRING. They come from more than 125 countries, speak hundreds of languages, cover all age groups, demographics, experience, religions, etc. They’ve designed logos for companies in virtually every country of the world and in most languages spoken on Earth.
Recently, we asked them to collaborate on a community guide to help buyers understand what to look for when having a logo designed. The logo is one of the most important elements of a brand – many argue it’s the most important after the service or product. The suggestions below reflect the collaborative work of many talented designers working on crowdSPRING. Here we go:
A logotype is an icon, whether it’s made up of just text or just a graphic symbol, or both of those elements. It should reflect your company – its heart and soul – its personality. Keep your audience and products/services in mind because you want your logo to reflect your business. Favor logos that have a strong, balanced look.
Simplicity is vital. A complex logo will be difficult to print and reproduce and may not fully engage your audience. Take a moment and think about brands that are successful and/or famous. Most likely, you’ve thought of companies like Nike, Apple, Volkswagen, Target, McDonald’s, etc. What do they all have in common? They all have logos that are simple and easily recognized when printed by themselves, and when printed in solid black and white.
Your logo does not always need to describe what your business does. Have you ever seen a car manufacturer with a picture of a car as their logo? How about a shoe manufacturer? It would look silly to have a picture of a shoe….on a shoe.
When using icons in your logo, consider icons that could communicate your brand without the company name. (examples: Y! for Yahoo! or the Swoosh for NIKE, or springy guy in crowdSPRING). This will allow you to use the icon as a stand-alone image (on packaging design, for example). For a person to retain and identify with a mark (your icon), a little mental tennis match must be played with it. If an icon is too blatantly obvious or easy to ‘read,’ the viewer often feels no sense of discovery or personal equity with it. But remember that too much abstraction can be dangerous because your message can be lost.
A logo should be visible and distinguishable on a big billboard from 100 meters away or on a small business card from to 20 millimeters away. It should also work well in different size formats like for example on stationery, brochure, t-shirt design and other marketing materials such as embroidery, stamping, embossing, etc.
A good logo will work well in many colors and in just one or two colors (yes, black is a color). A good logo will work well on light backgrounds as well as dark backgrounds, even on multicolored backgrounds.
Many start-ups and smaller companies use their logo on a few marketing materials but use something else on other materials. Be sure that you use your logo consistently and be sure that your logo allows you the flexibility to do so in multiple formats.
If you are looking for a color logo, consider the messaging that color sends to your customers. Do the colors reinforce and strengthen the intended core message/personality/mood you’re trying to communicate through the logo, or do they distract or neutralize? For example, blue often communicates trust, loyalty and freshness. The color blue is common in banking or finance. Green represents life, nature and cleanliness. Also consider colors that work well with dark and white backgrounds. Because logos are often printed in black and white, chose a logo design that is viable and as strong or stronger in black and white.
Although gradients provide an aesthetically-pleasing effect on computers, consider possible future uses of the logo such as on letterheads, business cards, and merchandise. Will the logo provide ease of printing and reproduction in and on all types of media? A logo for a website or a band, or a one-off project can be more rasterized and colorful than something that’s going to be printed in many different ways.
Think twice about including more than 3 colors in a logo – too many colors will increase the cost of production when printing and may make the logo more difficult to reproduce. Although such costs have decreased considerably, this remains good advice.
Trends are good but innovation is better. (And fads are often deadly). A logo should have a long life expectancy. It will evolve and change over time, but the longer it stays the same at its heart, the better brand recognition you will get over time. Examples: Coca-Cola, Dior, Rolex. A good logo will have a sense of timelessness about it. A logo that feels anchored in a certain time period is more likely to feel outdated or need substantial repurposing fairly quickly. The best logos change very little yet feel fresh and vibrant every time. (Nike, IBM, Apple).
Will it stand out among the clutter and the crowd? Does the mark distinguish itself in a unique way from the competition, or is it predictable / default / bland — and thus unmemorable and ultimately invisible to the intended audience? With thousands upon thousands of fonts, billions of color combinations, and an infinite flow of design ideas, choose the logo that is most unique. Try to avoid common logo cliches like “swoops,” “wooshes,” and “pinwheels;” these techniques are perhaps the most commonly used practices in the logo industry (just look around your house, you’ll see). Avoid clip art like the plague, unless it’s significantly modified by the artist. It’s quite disturbing when you start noticing your logo, and things that look like it on many other people’s brands. That’s the quickest way to look low-budget and second-rate.
Typography, Typography, Typography. Ask yourself what you’re trying to communicate. Depending on the type of application; typefaces with serifs convey a sense of dignity & power, sans serifs are often more clean looking and offer either a sense of stability or whimsy (depending on the character of the face). Will the face work with what you currently have? Can it be read at small sizes? Is the letterspacing/word spacing well adjusted? (the larger the wording gets, the more obvious the flaws will be) Typography is a craft in itself–it’s the first voice of stating who you are. Beware that there are some truly horrible typefaces out there, make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
Don’t compare the logo you will be choosing to already famous brands in the world. Those brands are famous not because of their logo, but because of the people/vision behind that logo. So, always remember that the branding behind the logo is very very important.
10. VECTOR IS BEST
Always request vector based graphics. It’s often tempting to ask for complex illustrations in a logo. However, unless you plan on never using your logo outside of an on-screen/online application, a JPG or PSD isn’t going to cut it. A properly drawn vector design will provide you with the ultimate flexibility.
Much thanks to the following talented creatives working on crowdSPRING for their collaborative effort to bring this guide to you:
Jabraulter, MadRooster, Engage, KS_Knight, Typecast, OpenHead, marckohlbrugge, entz, romasuave, jellopudding, nisha0612, ciotog, graphxpro, fackhir, fredK, haetro, holter, DWNees, Rambler001, squarelogo, MGDboston