Written by Linda Darnell
I won’t go so far as to call myself an expert, but I have designed hundreds (maybe even thousands) of logos in the last 40 years. Some I consider to be adequate and have since “evolved” several times, some are really good and continue to present well today, and a mere few I think could be called “great.” For those who are in the market for a new logo, following are some basic guidelines from my experience that can help lead you toward the “great” category.
First – Don’t Try This At Home
You may not be surprised to hear me suggest engaging a professional for this exercise. Sure, it’s probably true that your niece is a pretty good artist or your cousin knows calligraphy, but don’t count on them to create your company’s visual identity. Your logo will represent your business on your letterhead, business cards, website…maybe even shirts and signs and vehicles. Have it designed by a professional who knows and lives this stuff. A professional will also be aware what’s out there already, and will make sure your logo doesn’t look just like someone else’s (which happens, trust me).
Before You Start
A logo isn’t just the name of your company in a fancy typeface with some kind of artistic flourish or graphic. It should visually convey something about your company – both literally and through subtle design choices. So before you start, identify a few key elements to guide the ideas, such as:
- What’s your company’s “personality”? Is it fun and creative or elegant and dignified? Is it masculine and powerful or feminine and loving?
- What makes your company/product/service unique? There should be some specific and identifiable point(s) of difference between you and your competition, something that makes you stand out. What is it? (And think twice before saying “Service.” Everyone says that, and if everyone says it then it can’t be a difference.)
- Who is your audience? Are they young and hip or traditional and serious? Are they rural or urban, meat lovers or vegans, driving Cadillacs or Mini Coopers?
While businesses should be able to answer the above fairly easily, that’s not always the case. A professional partner can help explore and address these points and others to provide a solid background for developing a new visual identity.
Be Unique & Timeless
I know – being unique and timeless is easier said than done. You need help from someone who understands how to go about this, or you will likely be going through another logo development exercise again very soon (= more time + more money). These are important components:
- Make The Logo Memorable by avoiding obvious clichés.
- Make The Logo Timeless by avoiding trendy fonts or graphic techniques, so you end up with a look that’s current but classic.
Show Your True Colors
Every color tells a different story, and the color you like personally may not tell the story your business needs to tell. Here’s a quick guide to some basic color psychology, listing the ways many colors are commonly perceived.
- Blue – secure, calm, honest, strong, caring, trustworthy
- Red – energy, love, exciting, action, bold, passionate
- Orange – happy, sociable, friendly, affordable
- Yellow – logical, playful, optimistic, forward thinking, confident
- Green – growth, organic, natural, caring, fresh, earth
- Purple – imaginative, creative, nostalgic
- Black – sophistication, luxury, seductive, formal, authority
All Fonts Are Not Created Equal
Every font tells a different story, too. Here are the ways certain font styles are commonly perceived:
- Serif – reliable, authoritative, traditional
- Sans Serif – modern, industrial, stable
- Script – feminine, elegant, fashionable
Concerning Other Considerations
There’s more to consider?!?! Yes, there is!!!
- Size Matters. Does your logo look good whether it’s large or small? Make sure it’s readable at any size, for cryin’ out loud!
- Don’t Get Bent Out Of Shape. Make sure it will work in both vertical and horizontal spaces, and create secondary interpretations as necessary.
- If It’s Black & White, Can It Be Read All Over? Will it ever be printed in a newspaper? How about on a one-color banner? Then make sure it looks good in black and white and one-color applications.
Once You Take The Plunge, Go All In
So you’ve decided to go about things the right way…hiring a professional to help with development of your logo, providing quality input and direction about your business, and understanding the key components involved. The last step is relying on the partner you’ve hired to help you make a wise choice. Doctors are paid to know medicine, lawyers are paid to know the law, and professional designers are paid to know things like logo design. Trust your design partner, be sure to be objective during the review process, and you’ll be proud to call the end result “great”!