Tips for Creating a Great & Functional Logo

Nothing in marketing is more important than a logo. A good logo should be simple, functional, easy to remember, unique, and represents the message of the entity. A well designed logo means professionalism and trust, while a poorly designed logo can ridicule the company no matter how great of a service or product line it carries. As with all design, a logo must appeal to the appropriate target audience, be professional, and represent what the client wants to say with his brand. What is the message the company wants to convey? The logo doesn’t need to be a literal translation of that message and the organization, but the viewer should get some feeling or idea about the brand from simply looking at the logo.

DO KEEP IT SIMPLE. Often, people try to develop complex logos because they think it will help them say more. In some instances it may be good to have a lot of information and imagery. This is not the case in logo design. It’s important to keep it simple and to the point. This will make it more likely that a person viewing it will remember and easily recognize the logo in the future. Logos don’t need to be complex to be effective.

 Nike logo

Nike Keeps It Simple

DO MAKE IT MEMORABLE. Having a simple and appropriate logo will help make it memorable. If people don’t remember the logo (perhaps because the two aforementioned items weren’t addressed properly) then it’s not an effective design. A good test is to ask yourself, if someone saw the logo for a second time in the future without the name of the company next to it, would she remember the company name or what the company does?

 Target logo

Target makes an iconic symbol their own

DO KEEP IT TIMELESS. Using current trends in logo design that are not appropriate but  ”look cool” will certainly ensure that in a few years time, the logo looks dated. Once a company brands itself and people start to recognize that brand, the client won’t want to redesign. That’s why it’s important that the logo is appropriate the first time around and will last as long as the company does. Longevity is a key element in making sure the logo is effective.

 Fedex Logo

FedEx stands the test of time

DO MAKE IT VERSATILE/SCALABLE. Color can have an incredible impact on any design, but it’s important not to rely on that. The logo won’t always be able to be portrayed in color so it needs to also work in black and white. It’s also important that the logo look good on a business card as well as a billboard. All the detail will be lost on a business card or letterhead if the logo is too complex, which may have an impact on how people read the brand and the design intention.

 Puma Logo

Puma – the logo works well across platforms

DO MAKE IT UNIQUE. Having a logo that looks like everyone else’s means that either nobody will remember it or they will recognize it and think of the other company. It may also mean it’s not a very creative logo. If other people have already thought of the idea, it’s not truly innovative.

 Toysrus logo

ToysRus stands out

DO MAKE IT UNIFIED. Make sure you choose colors and fonts that don’t clash. There’s nothing worse than having a logo that feels segmented and careless. I saw a logo before that consisted of 3 words and each word was a separate font. It was unpolished and poorly executed, as if little thought or effort had been applied. When the logo doesn’t feel cohesive, what does that say about the company? While in some very rare instances, a more casual, less refined approach might be appropriate, this is not typically the case. The brand needs to be a trustworthy one, not a sloppy one.

 Harley Davidson Logo

Harley Davidson is interesting and polished

DON’T USE PHOTOGRAPHY/RASTER IMAGES OR STOCK/CLIP ART. Using stock art only ensures that the design isn’t original. A design that looks better and more professional than stock art should be feasible. As far as raster images and photography, don’t ever use them. Using these types of images means it can never be scaled up without the logo becoming pixilated. It also means that your logo is most likely too complex.

DON’T DESIGN FOR YOURSELF. While most designers become attached to their designs and do what they think is interesting, it might not always be appropriate. Remember, our job is to develop something that meets the client’s needs, not our own. If you want to create something for yourself, try developing your own logo or portfolio. Otherwise, make sure the logo reflects the client’s needs and meets their expectations.

DON’T USE GENERIC, UNATTRACTIVE, OR TOO MANY FONTS. I can’t tell you how many logos I’ve seen that use the font “Papyrus”. Apparently that font is appropriate for restaurants, bibles, country clubs, maps, and anything else imaginable. This is also true with “Comic Sans” & “Sand”, among many others. When I see these fonts, it says to me that the client’s business is amateur and unreliable. Another common mistake is using too many fonts. It’s important that the logo feel unified and the design be deliberate. Having too many fonts can cause the logo to look sloppy, which reflects poorly on the business.

DON’T PUT THE LOGO ON A PATTERNED/TEXTURED BACKGROUND. Again, keep the logo simple. Just because you know how to make a texture in Photoshop doesn’t mean it should be included in a logo. Will it always be displayed on this background? Will this work as a solid color if it ever needs to be? How will this look across all mediums? If you are relying on the pattern to make the logo, then it isn’t an effective design. If you love the pattern and texture and feel it is appropriate, maybe it would make more sense to include it as the background texture of the website instead of the logo.

DON’T COPY ANOTHER DESIGN. The company must be differentiated. Find out what makes the business stand out from the competition and call attention to that in the logo design. Copying someone else’s idea doesn’t do the business any good, and certainly doesn’t reflect well on the designer either.

Article by Michelle Canning, Interactive Designer

4 Responses to Tips for Creating a Great & Functional Logo

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  2. Avatar for says:

    Thanks so much for the tips i really appreciate it

  3. Avatar for Nancy Young Nancy Young says:

    Good job! Thank you for sharing the tips 🙂

  4. Avatar for Sean Mulligan Sean Mulligan says:

    thanks for your inspiring ideas

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