The Premise of Designing Good Logos
Logos need to uniquely represent your brand or business. Everyone agrees with this statement (I hope) but many times clients will request “something that looks like… [another logo]”, basically asking the designer to copy the basics of another logo. Your logo should be able to stand out as completely yours. Copying is not a good idea. On top of the potential legal complications it screams ‘unprofessional’ if a logo looks like someone else’s.
The term “Timeless” is used a lot when describing a good logo. This doesn’t mean that you can’t change your logo (many major corporations do, and quite often.) It doesn’t mean that you need to be able to predict what will be happening five years from now and design for that. Timeless simply means avoiding the latest ‘trendy’ design gimmick currently being used in everything. Every few years a new trend, or fad comes along that new logos seem to embrace. The problem is, everybody jumps on that bandwagon and the treatment rapidly becomes hackneyed and boring. After a few years we’ve got lots of people stuck with out of date designs. So logos can become outdated because of trends and don’t necessarily become “timeless” by trying to predict the next fad.
A technique that seems to have some amount of longevity is the so-called flat-design, a technique that (like a lot of design trends) can be traced back to adapting images for websites. Flat images tend to render accurately across all monitors, are quick to download and don’t have transparency issues when used as a PNG file on a web page. It’s not really a bad thing, so I imagine flat design might be around for a while.
A good logo tends to have very little if any “special effects”, meaning adding bevels, lens flares and drop shadows. If used in moderation and where it truly adds that extra vault into greatness, a little can work but one needs to be careful with complex effects that can affect the adaptability down the road. Over the life of your company, you’ll want to put your logo on everything you send out. That’s the point of having one in the first place. In order to do this, you’ll need a logo that’s adaptable to every occasion and while they may look ‘pretty,’ the design gimmicks can render your logo impractical for many of these uses – checks, FAXs, embroidery, newspaper ads, invoices, letterheads, etc. A must is a quality black and white version of your logo that can reproduce as a halftone grayscale on pretty much everything.
When creating a logo, you should always keep in mind that the client might need to be able to use it very small. Think of a postage stamp small. If the logo has text as a part of it then it has to remain legible, tiny, light fonts will not hold up to reduction! Sometimes designers have to explain to clients the problem of adding too much text into a logo for this reason.
Color offers an instantaneous method for conveying meaning and message in your logo designs. It’s probably the most powerful non-verbal form of communication we can use as designers. Our minds are programmed to respond to color, for example;
- RED – Action, Adventure, Blood, Danger
- PINK – Delicate, Femininity, Floral, Gentle
- GREEN – Crisp, Environmental, Fresh, Harmony, Health.
It’s important to consider the meaning of colors when designing a logo. Companies can use these responses to underline and accent their branding messages. Success as a logo designer will be boosted if you have an understanding of color psychology. As a designer you need to pick your colors carefully to enhance specific elements of the logo and bring nuance to your message with the use of shade and tone.
QUICK LOGO FIX?
Due to budget constraints, many business owners will settle for a mediocre logo that fits into their budget believing that any logo is better than none. This isn’t true. If you’ve decided that a logo is needed to identify your company, isn’t it a worthwhile endeavor to develop a good one? The fact is – rather than a lackluster, mediocre or unoriginal logo, it’s best to have none at all. Many successful companies have marketed themselves quite well with their name in a simple text logo, concentrating on other ways to distinguish their brand in the marketplace.
It’s important to have a logo, but from a business person’s perspective, it’s not worth watering down your company to get a cheaply executed rendition of one. From a designer’s perspective, never cut corners. Consider all aspects important, not least of all your reputation as a thorough and reputable designer!