What Makes a Great Logo Design?
Choosing a logo design is one of the most important decisions any new business faces. A good logo should be unique, simple, suited to the business, versatile, and stand the test of time. To help with your decision-making process, following are some questions to ask yourself when selecting a logo.
Is the Logo Unique?
Everything from our bank on down to our soap has a logo. The sheer number of logos we’re surrounded with at all times makes uniqueness both a challenge and more essential than ever. Is the logo a simple circle or arc (see image at right)? Make sure there aren’t 1,000 other logos that look exactly like it. Many people say they want a design that looks “like their competitors.” But if it looks like a competitor, how will people be expected to tell it apart or remember that it’s different?
Helping create logos is one of our favorite things to do at Green Comma because each logo, like each business, presents a fresh new design challenge. What is unique about your particular business? How can that identity be distilled?
The logo isn’t about the designer showing off or using some great new font. It’s working with the client to find the solution to a joint problem, to realize the best possible solution together. In good logo design there is no resting on your laurels, or reprocessing past work, there is constant searching for ideas and solutions.
Does This Logo Rely on Cliches?
When we begin to brainstorm imagery, it’s easy to fall back on cliches. But of course cliches break two major rules of logo design: they’re neither memorable nor unique. For a painful exercise, it might be worth taking a look at this compilation of poor logo designs. Notice that many of them use cliches, clip art and generic images that do nothing for the business at hand.
When brainstorming for a logo idea, inspiration might strike from anywhere. Definitely take a look at successful logos. At the same time, don’t limit yourself to looking only at other logos for inspiration. We’ve found that a google image search on a relevant topic can bring up unexpected images that get creative juices flowing.
Will This Logo Age Well?
A good logo should last decades with minimal updating. Trends in logo design are constantly evolving. See here for a current list of logo design trends. The aim, of course, is to buck whatever is currently trendy (and will soon not be) and create something timeless. Awareness is key. See here for ten examples of beautiful timeless logos.
Can You Scale it to Every Conceivable Size?
A good logo design should read well at all sizes, from postage stamp to billboard. This means, primarily, that is must be simple (Note: there is an interesting debate as to what degree logos should be responsive when scaled). This means that an intricate drawing of tree roots or a person’s face, though it might read well poster-size, will look like a meaningless splotch when shrunk to the size of an emoticon.
This also means we can’t force a logo to do too much. A logo can’t convey every single thing your business is about. Is there an element you’re not sure needs to be part of the logo? Chances are you should take it out. Pare back and pare back until just the essentials are left.
On the same theme, good logos should be created using vector images, which scale seamlessly, as opposed raster, which pixelate and look blurry when scaled too large. Think Adobe Illustrator, not Photoshop.
Does It Read Well in Black and White?
Here at Green Comma, we love color with a passion and use it to great effect. But when designing a logo, it’s important to make sure it reads well in grayscale as well. Imagine someone printing out your logo on a black and white printer. Does the logo still make sense?
What About That Font?
We’re writing this one last, but of course it’s essential. The main points to keep in mind with choosing the right font are:
1) The font must be consistent visually with the logo image. Whether you create your own font or adapt an existing one, the font is as important as the image and should match seamlessly in style.
2) Think outside the box. Yes, there are fonts that come with your computer, but if you have them, so does everyone else in the world. With the number of logos we’re surrounded with, a unique font is key. That being said…
3) Remember our question about logo timelessness. Choose a font that’s too trendy, and it will look dated come next year.
4) Keep it strong, legible, and scalable. Some designers advise that if the name of the business is a simple, known word, a more complex font might work, but if it is a more unusual word, a simple, immediately clear font will be essential.
5) Limit the number of fonts. Most designers recommend using one or at most two fonts for a logo.
6) Pay attention to the kerning (spacing). Fonts that are too widely spaced will look airy. Fonts that are too crammed together will look claustrophobic. A good designer can ensure everything reads smoothly.
In some cases imagery may not be necessary, and the font alone can be made into a logo. To read more about the wonderful world of typography, check this site.
In the words of Henri Matisse, “The entire arrangement of my picture is expressive; the place occupied by my figures, the empty space around them, the proportions, everything has its share.” Make your logo a seamless work of design.
Thanks for visiting. If you have anything else to add to this list leave a comment!