5 useful logo design tips

color pencils

In this guest post, Jacob Cass briefly covers five of his logo design tips, mentioning a few logo resources too.

1. Learn what a logo is and what it represents

logo design collage

Before you design one, you must understand what a logo is, what it represents and what it is supposed to do. A logo is not just a mark – it reflects a business’s commercial brand through the use of shape, fonts, colour, and / or images.

A logo is for inspiring trust, recognition and admiration for a company or product and it is our job as designers to create an identity that will do its job.

One must first know what a logo is before continuing.

For further Reading on what a logo is, check out Wikipedia’s definition or CreativeBits’s discussion on what is a logo?

2. Know the rules and principles of logo design

McDonalds logo design

Now that you know what a logo is supposed to do, and what it should represent, you now must learn what makes a great logo aka; the basic rules and principles.

As David says:

  1. A logo must be describable
  2. A logo must be memorable
  3. A logo must be effective without colour
  4. A logo must be scalable i.e. effective when just an inch in size

For Further reading on the rules and principles of great logo design I highly recommend reading these logo design tips from Logo Factory before continuing.

3. Learn off other’s successes and mistakes

logo design mistakes

Successful Logos

Now you know what the rules are, you can distinguish the difference between a good and a bad logo. Knowing which logos have succeeded, and why, gives an insight into what makes a good logo.

For example, let’s look at the classic Nike Swoosh (shown above). This logo was created by Caroline Davidson in 1971 for only $35, yet it’s still a strong, memorable logo, effective without colour and easily scalable. It is simple, fluid and fast, and represents the wing in the famous statue of the Greek Goddess of victory, Nike (something perfect for a sporting apparel business). The Nike logo is just one of many great designs, think about other famous brands that you know about and check out their logos. What makes them successful?

For more quality, lesser known logos I recommend browsing LogoPond or visiting your local book store or library and reading some books on logo design.

The Not So Successful Logos

We can also learn from logos that have not been too successful, such as the ones on the right of the above picture. Some more very bad logos can be seen in the post is your logo design phallic? As seen in that post, some logos can depict things that may not always be noticeable to the designer (as in the middle logo above) or they could just be plain bad design, as in the logo to the right (above).

4. Establish your own logo design process

logo design process

Now that we know what a logo is, what the principles and rules of logo design are and what makes a successful logo, we’re now prepared to begin the design process. This is the hardest part of these 5 tips, and is a whole topic in itself. Each person’s process is different and experience is usually the key factor when creating your own logo design process. For an example of a well established method, take a look at David Airey’s design process.

In short, a logo design process usually consists of:

  1. The Design Brief
  2. Research and Brainstorming
  3. Sketching
  4. Prototyping and Conceptualising (See Step 5)
  5. Send to Client for Review
  6. Revise and Add Finishing Touches
  7. Supply Files to Client and Provide Customer Service

If you ever get stuck before or during your design process, I’ve provided some tips on How To Boost Your Creativity.

5. Learn the software and complete the logo

Adobe Illustrator

After you have got your design process sorted out, it is usually a good time to begin mastering your software (here’s a selection of Adobe Illustrator tutorials for reference). But before I get to that, I want to point out that Step 4 and Step 5 overlap, as it’s a catch 22 situation – you can’t design a logo by just hopping straight onto the computer, nor can you complete a logo design without knowing your software (the Adobe Creative Suite is a popular choice with professional designers).

Putting this aside, once you have arrived at your initial ideas and sketches from brainstorming, you can then move onto the computer to start digitizing your logo. After you have digitized the great concept(s), your client is ready to review your work, ask for possible revisions, and complete the design project. Thus, you have successfully created a professional logo.


The Things People Overlook When Searching For A Logo Designer

When looking for a logo designer there are some things people take into consideration more then other things, and sometimes for the wrong reasons. Here are some things I noticed in the past that people overlook, overestimate, or underestimate about logo designers.

Experience: Years in the internet world do not mean much. Its the experience that counts more. I have seen people say: "I have been in the logo business for 15 years", and their logos were worse then the two year old down the street. Though years are a good stability factor in the company, it does not mean they are a good designer. Take a look at the samples to really find out how the designer is.

The Website: A bad website design does not mean the logo designer is bad. Maybe they are the best logo designer in the world just never learned HTML that well. If you are looking for a logo design, take a look at the logo design samples. Don't be a website critic.

Search Engine Positioning: The placement and exposure of a website is what many people base their designers on. For one because they are easier to find giving the other designers less chance to get the client. Maybe your best designer would be toward the end of the search engine, but you don't know that. So always search a little bit deeper when searching for a designer. Logo Designers are not always internet marketers or search engine specialists.

Age: There are many designers. Some designers are old some are young. Don't let age play a role with your design look at other things listen in our other articles. Some young designers might know the latest trend if you want the latest logo design. The older designers might have more experience. This isn't to say though that old designers don't know the latest trends or young designers don't have experience. I am just saying don't let age play the biggest role when selecting your designer.


Why A Professional Logo Design is Valuable to a Small Business

Why A Professional Logo Design is Valuable to a Small Business Imagine doing business without your most important tool: a computer, your knowledge, your personal assistant, or the telephone. You sit, unable to work. Without that tool, your company's future success would be in danger. And the same is true of any company functioning without a professional logo design.

Logos as Identification

The importance of logos may be traced back to the industrial revolution. Images on crates and boxes helped differentiate between mass-produced goods. That's why you can tell Morton® Salt, for example, from other salt packages at a glance. And if you're going to advertise, don't bother—not until you have a professionally designed logo that will be instantly recognizable. You could do more harm than good.

Logos for Professionalism

Would you want to do business with unprofessional company? Neither would your clients. A custom logo can give a five-person service firm an air of professionalism that is equal to that of a thousand-person company—and when you are competing in a global market, a professional image is essential.

Logos for Brand Identity

With a professional, custom logo, you can build a brand and go beyond simple advertising. You can use viral marketing with related products that promote your brand as a lifestyle.

Many companies think of themselves as brand-marketing companies. Starbucks® and Tommy Hilfiger® are two examples. In Tommy Hilfiger's case, all product manufacturing is hired out. What makes Hilfiger clothing instantly identifiable is the trademark red and white logo prominently displayed by Hilfiger customers. AT Starbucks®, coffee, music, clothing, and more other products build the Starbucks® brand.

It's Your Logo

You would not conduct business without your most important tool, nor should you conduct business without a professional logo that identifies your company. We live in what has been termed a "branded world": consumers purchase products based on brand reputation, and even promote brands by wearing logos on their clothing. Is your logo worthy of being worn on a customer's chest? If not, it may be time for professional logo design.


What Makes a Great Business Logo Design?

A nifty looking business logo is just not enough if you cannot have it printed nicely and clearly on your stationary or business card. Some of the things that make a great business logo is:

Vector Designed: A vector logo is one that will never distort. With a vector format logo you can make it as small as a pin cap or as big as a billboard and the logo will never distort. It is a key element for screen printing and stationary.

Visibility: Stand out from the crowd, its surroundings, and competition. A memorable identification is necessary for a great business logo.

Simplicity: A logo emblem, symbol, or illustration that is easy to memorize. It should never be to complex. The logo has to be easily recognized and identified.

Slogans: If you are using a slogan it should be catchy and easy to remember also just like the emblem. If you are not using a slogan don't worry its not necessary. However, don't add a slogan because it looks good - add one because it will help you market better.

Timeless: A great business logo design stands past its time frame. The user should not be able to figure out when the logo is made. In other words this business logo design should look good still five, ten, or fifteen years from now.

Color: Selecting the proper colors for a logo design can make or break a logo. Each color stands for another meaning in the real world. For example red might stand for heat, passion, love, desire, danger, etc. Keep the colors appropriate to your business.

Mobile: Your business logo should be easily movable and transformable. The logo should be easy to transform from one size to another. It should also be very simple to change the color from full color to black and white for faxing.


What Does Your Logo Say About You

In the marketing world, a lot of attention is given to the concept of “image”, both on an individual product level and for a corporation as a whole. Researchers know the perception of a product or service can be vastly different from actuality. Business owners are faced with the difficult task of communicating to their consumers exactly what benefits they will derive from using their product or service vs. the competition’s offering.

One way businesses do this is through their logo, or their corporate identity. Part of a logo’s impact comes from repetition, the very act of seeing a familiar symbol on a continual basis. Every company, every branded product or service needs a logo for this purpose.

Because logos are everywhere, it is essential for a logo to have meaning; to present to the subconscious mind of the consumer a message about the corporation and/or the product it represents.

Of all the factors that comprise corporate image , the most significant one is that of integrity. Integrity, in itself, has components: honesty, loyalty, determination, strength, completeness, dependability.

Another element that is important for a corporate or product image is value; the consumer must perceive that they will be receiving something of worth for their money.

Leadership is another factor; it connotes a knowledge of the marketplace and the ability to conduct business in such a manner that others in the field acknowledge this company’s worth.

Innovation is another important component of image. Businesses want to be seen as creative, knowledgeable and able to meet consumer needs with the newest and best products and services.

To build such an image through logo design requires the use of all of the tools a graphic artist has in his armory: fonts, color, placement, size, pictures and design motifs. Logo designers know that some images require a sense of movement in the logo design; some need the strength of heavy block lettering; logos for products for infants, for example, would be best served with soft pastels and lines that are rhythmic and flowing rather than having sharp angles.

Any entrepreneur seeking a logo for his company or product should first choose the elements he or she wants to present as a communicator of the corporate image.

Knowing the relative weight of each factor, a logo designer can then create a logo that catches the public eye and imagination, sends a subliminal message about your company’s image and indelibly imprints the logo in the consumer’s memory.

There are four options for actually getting the design work done. From a freelancer, an ad agency, from an online logo design specialist like LogoWorks, or by doing it yourself. All have benefits and drawbacks, but for most small businesses hiring a freelancer or using an on-line company are the most effective and affordable methods.


How to Get the Logo You Want

Your logo is more than just an important part of your marketing materials. It is the face of your business. Your logo gives clients and prospects a visual reference to pair with your business name, which increases the memorability of your brand.

When a client comes to me asking for a logo, I often get the same few comments when beginning the project: "I know what I want, but I don't know how to explain it." "I know what my logo looks like, but I'm not an artist. I can't draw it. So I want you to keep drawing until you get it right." Or even more vague, "I'll know my logo when I see it."

Many of these statements come from clients who have worked with other designers and haven't been walked through a successful design process. They seem to depend on my mind-reading capabilities, which, admittedly, aren't the sharpest. I'm a logo designer, not a clairvoyant! There are, however, logical ways to approach the design process to make sure you end up with a logo that's truly and uniquely yours.

Are you having a hard time getting the logo you want?

If you're working with a designer and looking for "just the right" logo but getting sketches that cause nothing but frustration, don't despair. I've worked with many clients on difficult projects and come reasonably close to reading their minds without having ESP. Here are some tips to help you get your logo done right:

1. Make sure you're working with a designer who can work in a style you like. Check out their portfolio and make sure they've done work that inspires you. If you're having trouble getting good results from your designer, reconfirm that they have done the work in their portfolio—that those samples weren't done by subcontractors or employees in their firm.

Also, let them know which specific samples you like. A designer will probably have several different styles and approaches in their portfolio, so zeroing in on the logos you like—plus detailing what you like about each one—can help get your project started out on the right foot.

2. Gather other examples of logos you like. This way, your designer will be able to get a sense of your taste, instead of having to guess at your preferences. Example logos don't have to come from your competitors or your industry. They are to help your designer gauge your level of visual taste. Choose logos that visually appeal to you regardless of the company or product.

It's important that you send your designer logos, not photos or paintings. Photos and paintings are graphically very different from a logo, and they don't often translate well from one medium to another. And if there is one particular element of a logo that you love specifically—the font, color palette, or something about the icon—then tell your designer what it is.

3. Define your business. Too often, clients give designers the bare minimum of information, for example, business name and products or services. Then they expect designers to read their minds and perform a miracle. If you provide so little information, how can your designer be expected to "get" what you're all about and to translate your personality and individuality into a unique logo?

Tell your designer about your business's mission, what excites you about it, and how you'd like your clients to see your personality. Tell them about your clients—who they are, what they need, and what their problems are. With this information, your designer will be much more able to create a logo that truly communicates the essence of your business to clients and prospects.

4. Give detailed feedback. Instead of saying "I don't like them" when your designer presents logos to you and ending the conversation there, engage in a dialog about the options offered. Don't just dismiss everything because it's not perfect the first time around. Getting anything just right can take a couple of tries.

Focus on the positive aspects of the concepts you've been given instead of the negatives. See if there's anything in any of the logos that appeals to you—or a direction that interests you.

5. Break the design process down. Look at the elements of the logo separately. Sometimes a logo won't seem right because it's in the wrong color palette or matched with the wrong font. Focus first on the logo icon and then look at the font. Apply color last so that it doesn't distract you from the merits of the design.

If these steps fail, perhaps the best logo isn't the one you personally love. Instead, your business may be better served by creating a logo that appeals to your clients.

6. Keep in mind that your logo's job is to appeal to your best clients, not just to make you happy. Instead of focusing on whether or not you like your logo, show it to some of your best clients and get their opinions. Sometimes, it's better to have a logo your clients like than to like it yourself, because the logo's job is to help them see your personality and remember your business, not make you proud.

Ask your clients what they think about your logo. Do keep in mind that each client brings different personal taste to the table. Put the most weight on feedback from clients who best match your ideal client profile. And be sure that you respect their taste. If your main focus group target drives beater cars or dresses questionably, and you're creating a luxury brand, consider finding a more high-end client to run the logo by.

7. Ask your designer what to do in cases like this. This advice is my procedure for getting past the ESP phase of the project and into my clients' heads. Another designer may have a totally different way of getting around a hitch in the process and creating a logo that looks as you envisioned it. Just ask your designer to walk you through their process.

These steps should help you get closer to a logo that works for your business and avoid going around in circles and getting frustrated. Even if your designer can't read your mind immediately, it's worth going through the process to get the best logo possible for your business.


Aussie Logo Design

Specialising in logo design and business stationery for small to medium sized businesses in Australia and New Zealand

Why Should You Go in for Custom Logo Design

Have you ever wondered what is there is the design of a particular logo that makes it stick to the back of your head? Have you ever pondered some time thinking why your brain associates itself with a particular company whenever you see a particular design in the print media or on the TV? These are all due to logo design. Whenever you like a particular product or company your brain associates itself with the designs of the logo of that company. Not only the design of the logo, your brain also associates itself with the jingles that accompany advertisements of famous products and organizations. Case in point is the famous theme track of all James Bond movies.

The moment a person hears those tracks that know that it has something to do with James Bond. The same is applicable to a business logo design too. There are many organizations that go in for custom logo design without even pondering to think about the importance of that small piece of art. They just do not know the importance that design will have bear in the future and they just select the first logo company their search results provides them with. One small error in the design will remain stuck with the company forever and by the time they either realize or are pointed out the flaws in the design; it is too late to make amends. One should always seek the services of professional logo design services to ensure that they get the custom logo design they are seeking for.

There are may professional logo design companies who will create a professional logo for your organization, but even they require some information and feedback from your end in order to create a perfect logo. If you are looking for someone who can render a professional logo design, it is recommended that you take the help of advertising agencies. They are your best bet when you are seeing a custom logo design for your organization. These advertising agencies have their own research & planning department along with their own art studio and they also employ professionals who know what sells. Remember, your logo is your organization's mascot and it represents your organization, hence it is important that it has a unique and custom logo design that stands out from the designs of the logos of your competitors.

There are some smart people who do not want to pay the high charges that the advertising agencies demand. These smart people know that there are programs that are designed just for creating professional logos. What these people do not know is that these programs have pre-defined logos. In order to create a custom logo design using these programs using this software, one has to first select any design from the software's collection. The same is altered a bit over here and a bit over there to give the shape a unique design. After that one can change the color combinations of the logo to one that suits the standard colors of the company for which the logo is being designed.

Most professional companies have their own unique color combination that is used in all their stationery and the same should be followed for their custom logo design. Once this is over, the software allows the user to add some text that can be set in a straight or curved path. Once all these steps have been completed, the entire image can be exported as a graphic file and can be sent to the printers for printing on letterheads, visiting cards and other official stationery. What the users of this software do not know is that the same program is being used by tens of thousands of semi-professionals all over the world to create some other custom logo design.

They are being termed as semi-professionals, since no graphic professional worth their salt will ever use such programs with pre-designed logos. Professional graphic artists and typographers prefer to use their own brains and vision to create something unique, which will stand apart from the pack. After all, they are charging you such a huge amount of money for creating your organizations custom logo design. There is one more important point that one should remember when getting their logos designed. They should not act in haste and allow the designers sufficient time to re-work on the design, till they are sure that it is satisfactory. The image of the logo should appear to be a part of your company. Try to add elements in the design that shows the nature of your company's business.