Your logo is the face of your organization. It creates an important first impression so good design is essential. A good logo is the backbone of your brand and as such should be considered an asset and investment.
What makes a good logo?
A good logo is unique, practical, graphic and simple in form. It represents some aspect of the organization it represents whether it be product or culture and attitude. A concept is usually behind an effective logo enabling it to communicate an intended message. There are 5 principles to watch for in good logo design:
- Simple. A simple logo allows for easy recognition and allows the logo to be versatile and memorable. Avoid clutter. With a simple and uncluttered logo your customers can readily connect with your organization
- Versatile. An effective logo should be able to work across a variety of mediums and applications.
- Appropriate. The logo must convey meaning that is appropriate to the organization and sector.
- Memorable. An effective logo should be memorable and this is achieved by having a simple yet appropriate logo.
- Enduring. An effective logo should endure the test of time. The logo should be ‘future proof’, meaning that it should still be effective years into the future. Be wary of trends.
A logo must be scalable
It should remain clear across all print and digital media and scale well from postage stamp size to billboards. Consider its appearance in your brochure or flyer design, signage, packaging, merchandise, social media sites and website. Details or fine lines often disappear at small sizes or may bleed into itself, obscuring detail, on some paper stocks.
Your logo must be in vector format to ensure scalability. Graphic designers use the application Adobe Illustrator to create vector logo files. Photoshop and other pixel-based programs present scalability issues. Your printer and sign-maker require EPS or .ai files.
A logo must work in b/w and in reverse
A good logo design can stand up to appearing in black in white or as a single colour. You may not imagine now why you would need your logo as a single colour but as your business grows you will see there are many occasions for it. Consider embossing, engraving, some kinds of signage, colour limitations in print or when it is included with other companies logos in a sponsorship recognition for example.
It should also work in reverse, as white on black (or other dark colour). This is another occasion to watch out for fine lines disappearing or details clogging in print.
Icon or no Icon?
A logo without any form of symbol or icon is called a wordmark. Some wordmarks are powerful and timeless. Think Coca-Cola, FedEx, Disney or Ebay. It’s good to start with a clear statement of your company name. Choice of typeface is imperative, but depending on whether the logo is for a slick tech startup or a local plumber each wordmark needs to be carefully tailored to its audience. Above all, make sure it’s legible and isn’t awkward or difficult to read.
Choose a wordmark when:
- Your name is reasonably distinctive but not (yet) a household word.
- You want to associate products or subsidiaries with the parent more clearly and directly than a symbol permits.
- Communication funds are limited and should be focused on name recognition.
Some logos also have some form of icon. These often take an element from the original wordmark such as Facebook and its ‘F’ icon. The advantages of an icon, is that it can be used in isolation in situations where the full logo would be illegible. A good example of this is on Twitter, where your logo needs to fit inside a small square. Social media is so important for brand building today and an icon is the perfect fit for this kind of profile.
Choose an icon only when:
- Your name is too generic, too long, doesn’t translate well globally, or inadvertantly conveys a misleading message.
- You need an emblem on the product, as on a car hood, or a sneaker.
- You need to link subsidiaries to the parent and can’t easily use the name.
- You have a budget for a lot of media, to teach consumers what the symbol means.
Typography is obviously central to a good logo. You have two main routes to choose from: creating your own custom typeface or adapting an existing one.
If you create a custom typeface, try not to make it too stylish or fashionable because it could date quickly. Keep it simple and legible. Consider the words that you’re depicting — if they’re unusual then a simple typeface might work best; if they’re common words then you can usually be more creative as they’re easier to recognise.
Make the typography match the brand
There is a vast variety of fonts. Each resonates differently in word marks. If you want to convey class and style consider serif faces or elegant scripts. To suggest a forward thinking brand think italics of slanted typefaces. For strength use a heavy weight sans serif or a slab font. It’s not about just looking pretty: matching the qualities of the font to the qualities of the brand is what’s important here.
Don’t use gimmicky typefaces
Don’t be tempted to make your logo stand out by using gimmicky fonts. They are typographic chintz and for sheer professionalism’s sake you should avoid them at all costs.
Most gimmicky fonts are too fancy, too weak, and are most likely being used on a hundreds of different cheap business cards right now. When it comes to logo design, keep your font choices classic and simple and avoid over-garnishing.
Be sensitive to cultural differences
Visuals can be culturally sensitive so do your research extensively to ensure its appropriateness to your target customers. This is particularly important for businesses targeting different geographic locations.
Context, context, context
Your logo is not a standalone symbol. Its use is always contextual and in relation to other elements of your communication. How will your logo look in the header of a website or in an ad? Will it’s depth or width create spacing problems? Can you position a tagline or contact info under it so that it reads as a unit without a large awkward gap? A logo that is too tall may have to be reduced to fit in certain spaces that it loses legibility. It needs to work across mediums, blending with various elements of your brand such as your communication materials, your corporate culture and the quality of your product or service.
Getting a good logo design for your company is not an expense. It is an investment. Far too many times, startups do not mind spending money on fancy office furniture or a startup party and then cheap-out on their logo design. When it comes to getting an effective logo, remember this is a long-term investment that will be the face of your brand for years to come.