Think of your favorite brands, and their logos probably come to mind immediately. That’s because they’re well-designed, memorable, and true visual representations of what those companies do and stand for. When creating a logo for your own business, it’s always a good idea to look at what successful and established logos have in common. If you design a great logo, you’ve taken a very important first step toward creating an iconic brand. A poorly designed logo, however, practically ensures that you’ll be just another forgettable company. Read on for five indispensable logo design tips.
Tip 1: Visualize Your Message
The best logos include graphic elements that are clean, subtle, and convey a strong message. That’s not easy to do, but it can certainly be achieved. Consider the logo for amazon.com (www.amazon.com). Upon first glance, it may look just like the website printed in a simple font. Look closer, however, and you’ll see a swooping arrow underneath the text. This arrow serves two functions. First, it starts at the “a” in amazon.com and points to the “z,” indicating that the site has everything from A to Z. Also, it functions as a smile, suggesting that you can order something to make you smile. This minimal graphic included in the logo conveys so much information. If you can do that with your logo, chances are it’ll be good.
Tip 2: Keep It Simple
Logos need to be used in lots of different places and in lots of different sizes. Your website, business cards, signage, and even apparel will feature your logo, so it’s got to be versatile. And, versatility means simplicity. For example, take a look at the original logo for Apple (which can be found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/civellophoto/6216208426/). As a sketch, it’s very nice, but as a logo, it’s much too complicated. The drawing is too detailed to reproduce well at smaller sizes (like on a business card), the text on the border is too hard to read, and while it does capture the moment of Sir Isaac Newton discovering gravity, it’s not especially memorable or relevant to what the company does. Compare it to the simple, streamlined Apple logo of today, and it’s easy to see why the original logo was quickly replaced.
Tip 3: Choose Your Type Wisely
It takes a long time for a logo to become recognizable to the point that text is unnecessary. Until then, your company’s name should probably be part of your logo, and you’ll need to use type to do it. While custom type is a good way to make your logo stand apart from all the others, it’s out of reach for many designers who are not typography experts. That’s OK — there are lots of quality typefaces from which to choose. The trick is to keep it clean, readable, and have it convey your message.
Think of logos of popular brands, and you’ll realize that almost all of them use a simple serif or sans serif font. Highly decorative typefaces can be hard to read, script typefaces often feel flimsy, and cute handwriting-style typefaces typically come across as unprofessional. Instead, aim for clean, bold, and classy. Think about your business’s message and mission, and try to find a typeface that fits.
Tip 4: Spot Color, Not Full Color
In line with the “keep it simple” ethos, choosing just a few colors instead of a lot of colors will help your logo stand out. Why? For starters, a lot of colors can be overwhelming. Think of logos like those for airlines and fast food restaurants: the limited color palette helps to keep the logos clean and simple. True, companies like Google and NBC use lots of colors in their logos, but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule.
Another important point to consider is that a full color logo may run your printing costs sky high, as full color printing can be considerably more expensive than printing just black plus a color. Finally, full color logos often lose much of their effect when reproduced in grayscale, which will happen if an ad featuring your logo is printed in a newspaper or other grayscale publication.
Tip 5: Use the Negative Space
With logo design, as with most types of design, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. If you want a logo that’s truly great, it’s not enough to use interesting and effective type and graphic elements — you’ve got to make good use of the negative space as well. The classic example for excellent use of negative space is the logo for Fed Ex (which can be seen on trucks all over the world and also on www.fedex.com). They’re a company that moves packages from point A to point B, a concept best shown visually with an arrow. Except Fed Ex’s logo doesn’t include an arrow as a graphic element. Instead, it is shown in the negative space between the “E” and the “x.” Many other examples of good use of negative space in logo design can be found with a simple Google search for “negative space in logos.”