Bite sized pearls of logo design wisdom

Anguished visuals & mixed metaphors aside, here’s 25 great tips from the trenches. Things to ponder when it comes to designing a logo.

Let’s get to them..

1): Shortcuts can be costly. Start out right.

Time (or money) saving solutions are often neither time or money saving. You’ll only have to redo your logo later. This also applies to “template” and “ready-made” logos.

2): The logo design process isn’t always fun.

Developing a logo for your company can actually be frustrating and seem a fruitless task. Design is an organic, iterative process. Have patience – you will get there.

3): Do not copy anyone else’s logo.

Even though you found a great logo on Google image search, that doesn’t mean you can use it as yours. Logos are protected by copyright and/or trademark.

4): Avoid overused trends and clichés.

The most obvious and easiest answer is often the most commonly used too. These are some of the most overused and clichéd concepts of all time. You’ll find a lot of these being submitted to any logo design contest you host.

5): A logo should depict your company personality.

Serious. Whimsical. Cutting-edge. Friendly. Fast. Cheap. Your logo needs to graphically portray the essence of your company. This is your “brand.” A mismatch can be disastrous.

6): A logo doesn’t have to portray what you do.

It’s often better to have a mark that doesn’t depict your company functions literally or absolutely. Abstract and symbolic logos are much more adaptable, flexible and interesting.

7): Your logo is for your audience.

Sure, it’s important that you “like” your logo but this is a secondary importance. It must appeal to the customers and clients you’re trying to attract. Your logo is for them.

8): Your logo needs to have instant impact.

Nobody is going to take minutes to admire the subtle symbolism and intricacies of your logo. It has a fraction of a second to grab the viewer’s attention. Be bold.

9): Keep your logo nice and simple.

Complex logos are harder to remember, don’t have instant impact and won’t reproduce well when used at small sizes or less-forgiving media.

10): Size matters. A lot.

Your logo needs to be recognizable at a wide range of sizes. Social media icons and avatars are very small, so there’s not a lot of pixels for extra detail. Billboards and other signage are very large, so the edges of fonts and shapes need to be smooth and straight.

11): Select typefaces carefully. Use two fonts max.

Font styles can be highly symbolic of the theme of your business. Serif equals stability and classic. Italic represented speed. Be judicious in the number of fonts – more than two and your logo starts looking like a ransom note.

12): A logo’s shape, proportion and footprint are critical.

For maximum adaptability your logo should be designed as square or horizontal. A footprint is an imaginary box around your entire logo. Trailing elements can cause issues.

13): A detachable icon means a versatile logo..

A detachable icon can be used with or without your company name or wordmark. Square icons are adaptable for use on everything from social media to baseball caps.

14): It you must use a tagline, make it optional.

A tagline is the description of a company that usually sits under their logo. They’re great and all, but can cause problems when the logo is reproduced at small size.

15): Color is secondary in the design of your logo.

Your brand colors are important in the use of your logo but not in the design of it. A logo that’s “held together” by color is a poor one – it should “work” in any color.

16): Select your brand colors carefully.

When it’s time to pick colors for your logo choose wisely. Different colors mean different things and colors have powerful relationships with each other.

17): Color is wonderful but try and keep it down to two.

A logo that uses a maximum of two colors is adaptable to a wide range of applications. Best practices: your logo should also be able to work using only one color.

18): No glows, lens flares, drop shadows or bevels.

Special effects and filters are usually applied to a logo when it’s thought to be “missing something.” These “eye candy” solutions only lead to reproduction headaches and expense.

19): View your logo from every angle.

Sometimes your logo may look like something entirely different if viewed upside down or sideways. Better you find this “hidden” symbology than everybody else.

20): Just pick one already.

We’re often tempted to continue tweaking a logo, long after settling on a design. If we’ve used sound design rationale all along, this can be counter-productive.

21): Make sure your logo is in vector format.

Vectors are outline digital file types that allow editing and unlimited scaling of your logo. Never use a photograph in your logo because they are bitmaps, not vector.

22): Make sure you have professional brand assets.

To use your logo effectively in print, on the internet and in marketing, you’ll require various files and formats. These brand assets are also important for consistency.

23): Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.

Often a great logo became great just on the merits of getting used a lot (think Nike.) Use yours. A lot. On everything!

24): Don’t change your logo (almost never.)

Whenever you get bored of your logo, chances are it’s just starting to get some traction in the marketplace. Only change it for a really good reason.

25): A logo is not a brand.

A logo is the cornerstone of your brand but it isn’t the entire picture. You can build a brand with a combination of consistent visuals, themes and colors.

26): Don’t design your logo based on lists.

Including this one.

This was originally published in the older version of our Branding Tips but due to some housecleaning and moving things around, we’ve republished it here to get it out of the way. It’s still a pretty solid piece that nobody found in its old spot, so we’re golden.