Your logo’s chief function is to identify your company or brand. Designing a good logo is an important component in creating the brand image for a new business. If you have an established business, there may come a time to update an existing logo (see our blog on this topic if you want some guidelines about this).
Whether it is new or an update, a successful logo should be readily recognizable and reflect your corporate identity–the main characteristics you wish to convey about your company. Therefore, an excellent starting point for a logo design is a list of these characteristics. Perhaps you want to convey or evoke concepts such as trust, admiration, loyalty, superiority and innovation, for example.
In practical terms, a good logo should be:
- Simple. A simple logo is more readily recognized and aesthetically pleasing. A simple design also has the practical benefit of generally holding up well at the huge variety of sizes logos can appear in, from postage-stamp size to billboard. Bear in mind that intricate illustrations lose detail when reduced.
- Memorable. The most effective logos are readily remembered. The most memorable logos also tend to be simple: think McDonald’s arches, the Amazon smiley arrow, or the Mercedes automobile badge.
- Timeless. The logo needs to be up-to-date, but should age gracefully. This is best accomplished by avoiding short-lived trends in design, choice of font and colors. The London Underground logo is a fine example of a timeless logo, dating from 1908 and still going strong with only minor updates over a century later.
- Versatile. Your logo will be expected to work very hard, appearing in an endless variety of contexts. It should look good at all sizes, and in black and white as well as color. Speaking of color, with a few exceptions, the best logos use a minimum of different colors. Not the least consideration here is the issue of printing costs: each additional color that is required adds to the cost. You should not rely on special effects such as gradients or reflections, as these can be hard or impossible to reproduce in some situations, such as embroidered on an item of clothing, or printed on a small promotional item such as a pen. Our rule of thumb – make sure it works in black and white first!
- Appropriate. The graphic elements and any text should reflect the nature of the business. A style suitable for Barnum & Bailey’s circus would not work well for a major law firm, for example. Color is a major consideration here. Different colors have different connotations, which can differ across industries or cultures. In the finance industry, for example, red denotes debt, so may not be the best color for a bank to choose for its logo.
- Distinctive. In order to uniquely represent your business, your logo should be distinctive, standing out from those of your competitors. One way to approach this is to avoid a literal depiction of what your business does: check out the logos of leading brands, and you will rarely see an image of the product or service they provide. Likewise, think twice – or three times, if necessary – about using visual clichés such as globes, arrows and jigsaw puzzle pieces, for example. Speaking of distinctive, you should ensure that the logo does not encroach on another company’s trademark. Determining this is a specialist task best undertaken by a trademark attorney.
- Legible. Often, the starting point for a good logo is the name of the business. (If you are still in the process of coming up with a name, you might like to check out our blog on this topic.) But make sure the designer does not get overzealous in modifying the typeface, or you may end up with a logo that has customers staring at it for all the wrong reasons: if they can’t read it readily, then it is failing in its fundamental task of communicating quickly and effectively.
Whether you choose a typographic logo or a logo bug, these general rules will help guide you in the right direction. Logo design is a specialized art. Gather your ideas, do your research and be prepared to discuss them with your designer. But remember, in the end, it’s your target audience that needs to identify with your brand. Your designer’s job is to help you create a logo that succeeds in doing just that.
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P.S. This information was provided by Ruff Haus Design - Your Loyal Marketing Companion. Established in 1997, we are a special breed of full service graphic design company that works with a premier pack of clients. We bring a fresh outlook and tail-wagging enthusiasm to your marketing program. Learn more about how we can help improve your brand management and support your marketing needs at www.ruffhaus.com.