Dos and don’ts of excellent logo design

Posted by on Jul 2, 2012 in CHI University
Tags: branding, logo design, branding tips, branding basics, graphic design

At their root, logos are made to identify. Through the use of images, icons, typography, marks or symbols, logos identify companies or products in the most basic way. Immediately when a user views a logo, he or she can connect it with the brand it represents.

Today, with so many logos in existence, it’s not hard to find examples of great and not-so-great logos in use. What makes the difference? What makes a logo work well? And, more importantly, what can your company do to ensure its logo represents you effectively?



DO streamline your design. DON’T overcomplicate things. 

You want your logo to be easily recognizable. You want it to be simple, a quick way for users to notice and remember your brand. A complicated logo will hinder audience engagement. It will make it difficult to reproduce in various sizes and applications. Your logo is the ultimate elevator pitch to your potential clients and business partners. Ask yourself: Could someone look at this logo and easily describe it? Or is it too complicated to get a sense of quickly?



DO set yourself apart. DON’T look just like the competition. 

In today’s overly saturated marketplace, finding a way to stand out can seem challenging, but the idea is to be different than your competitors. Without a distinct logo design, you may find potential clients and customers have a hard time recognizing your brand, confuse you with another company and may even end up going with a competitor rather than choosing you. Ask yourself: Does this logo look unique? Is it easy to distinguish from other brands? Remember: even the most distinct logos can still be simple.



DO consider various applications. DON’T design for just one size or medium. 

A great logo can be printed at different sizes, across different mediums and in different applications without losing its power and esthetic. A great logo has to work well on the web, in print ads, on letterheads and in video. Good graphic designers know that what looks great in a print ad might not work well in a video or vice versa, so they carefully craft a logo that looks good no matter the medium or application. Ask yourself: Will this logo be as effective on a billboard as it is on letterhead? Will it work in full color as well as black and white? Many designers create a logo in black and white before bringing color into the mix, in order to focus on overall design.



DO think about your industry. DON’T feel the need to be literal.

An effective logo should be appropriate, but that doesn’t mean it has to be literal. As Patrick Winfield writes, “McDonald’s … could have went with a juicy burger next to the name, but instead they took the first initial ‘M’ and created an icon that was both simple and visually pleasing to look at as an asymmetrical element.” Whether you follow the example of McDonald’s or its competitor Burger King, which puts a hamburger in the middle of its logo design, your logo needs to be appropriate to your brand. Ask yourself: Does this logo communicate the right tone and style? Does it show or in some way hint at what type of business or product it’s representing?



DON’T be forgettable. DO leave an impression.

Making a logo that’s memorable can be difficult, but memorability is a key attribute. A great logo will remain clear enough in memory that a person who has only seen the logo once can recall the logo well enough to describe it to someone else. This is not the easiest of qualities to create but should be high on the checklist to ensure the design sticks in their mind. Ask yourself: Can this logo make a lasting impression? Will it be memorable?



DON’T be trendy. DO aim for longevity.

Trends come and go, what looks good today may be cheesy tomorrow. When your brand is concerned longevity is key. Ask yourself: Will this logo still be relevant in one to five years? Can it withstand years of changes in the industry?


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