the 5 absolute musts of any great logo design
Logos are an essential part of any great brand. They are your business ambassador, placed at the forefront of any interactions with your customers and clients. Having a well designed logo is an absolute must in today’s heaving business market - especially as a smaller brand. First impressions matter, do you want a shoddy homemade logo to be your potential clients first impression of your business?
Despite coming in all colours, shapes, sizes and formats; there are a few things that all great logos share. These principles (which I’ll share below) underpin every great logo you know and love. Without taking all of these points into consideration, there’s a high chance that your logo will miss the mark. These design principles will ensure your logo is appropriate for your audience, versatile enough to use anywhere and will stand the test of time. Exactly what we want from any great logo!
The first of our 5 absolute must haves for logo design is scalability. Logos are used on all kinds of media, from social media icons to billboards, postcards to pencils. With such a massive range of sizes, it’s important to remember that not everything that looks good in large format print will look good scaled down to Facebook profile image, and vice versa. Avoid very thin lines and overly decorative type, and make sure you test it at various sizes before signing it off.
The other point to note with scalability is file formats. Do you have a vector or EPS file for your logo? These are files that are infinitely scalable, they don’t rely on pixels so can be blown up to any size. If you only have a raster or standard image file, you’ll never be able to increase the size of your logo (for a poster for instance) without destroying the resolution. Always make sure you have a vector file.
As mentioned above, the range of places your logo will be featured is vast. You need to make sure your logo is simple and versatile enough to account for this. Do you have a single colour logo option for overlaying on top of images? Do you have a logo system in place so that you can use different elements of your logo in different situations? If you have a clear separation of your icon and text elements within you logo, it’s important that you have these elements as stand alone assets for use as social media icons and avatars, or to use in large format print like posters and marketing assets.
Nobody wants a wishy washy logo. Your logo needs to use colour and contrast in order to make it stand out from it’s surroundings and really grab attention. This is why black and white are so popular within logo designs, because placed on the opposite background colour they’re guaranteed to provide plenty of contrast. Using colours within a logo design is a good thing, but make sure they’re relevant and bold enough to stand out. Think of all the likely applications of your logo. Do you have a colour option for these? For example, even the most colourful logos will sometimes need to be displayed in single colour. Does your logo have an option for this? If your logo is largely purple and then needs to be used within an external design that is also mostly purple, do you have a white option to use instead? These are important things to think about.
This is about making sure your logo is appropriate for your industry and the audience that consumes it. Your logo is often a customers first point of contact with your brand, between that and your brand name you need to be showing at least a vague indication of what you do. This is not to say that every logo in the same industry must look the same, simply that there are style patterns and brand elements that people have come to expect so consider using some of them. For example, the financial and big business industries have taken over a certain range of blue colours. You see this colours out in the wild and you immediately think ‘banking’ or ‘business’. Pay attention to the trends in your industry. What sorts of things do they all share? What looks out of place? Is your logo relevant to your industry?
Can you see why brilliant logo design is difficult to achieve? The last point is memorability which means that only do you have to make it relevant to your industry, you also have to make it stand out completely. Some designers choose to completely subvert industry norms when creating a logo, and this can work really well. But most of the time, the best thing to do is try and find that line between recognisable and memorable - which is very tricky! Try and do something different from your competitors. Make sure your logo is unique enough to stand out from the others. Never use stock images or icons, steer clear of any imagery that’s too literal, avoid any imagery or wording already being used by your main competitors.
I appreciate that this may seem like a lot to think about (and there’s a fair few contradictions which make it extra mind bending) but these points are all imperative to an interesting, successful logo design. There’s a reason so much of the design process is research and brainstorming, with a huge number of ideas being jotted down before running with just 1 or 2. It’s all about development and finding the perfect design which satisfies all the above requirements.