A good logo is a major contributor to making that crucial first impression on a customer. They convey your company’s values, tell a story, and even help people trust your brand. If your logo does not convey the right message to a prospective customer, your company is at an immediate disadvantage. It could even mean the difference between selecting the competition over you.
We asked some of our best creatives to collaborate on guidance to help entrepreneurs create the perfect logo for their brand. They came up with 10 key elements that are essential to every good logo, regardless of industry or application. When reviewing your current logo or getting started with a new business, make sure your logo has these 10 elements:
A logotype is an icon, whether it’s made up of just text or just a graphic symbol, or both of those elements. It should reflect your company – its heart and soul – its personality. Keep your audience and products/services in mind because you want your logo to reflect your business. Favor logos that have a strong, balanced look.
Simplicity is vital. A complex logo will be difficult to print and reproduce and may not fully engage your audience. Take a moment and think about brands that are successful and/or famous. Most likely, you’ve thought of companies like Apple, Volkswagen, Target, McDonald’s, etc. What do they all have in common? They all have logos that are simple and easily recognized when printed by themselves, and when printed in solid black and white.
Your logo does not always need to describe what your business does. Have you ever seen a car manufacturer with a picture of a car as their logo? How about a shoe manufacturer? It would look silly to have a picture of a shoe… on a shoe.
When using icons in your logo design, consider icons that could communicate your brand without the company name. (examples: Swoosh for Nike). This will allow you to use the icon as a stand-alone image (on product packaging, for example). For a person to retain and identify with a mark (your icon), a little mental tennis match must be played with it. If an icon is too blatantly obvious or easy to ‘read,’ the viewer often feels no sense of discovery or personal equity with it. But remember that too much abstraction can be dangerous because your message can be lost.
A logo should be visible and distinguishable on a big billboard from 100 meters away or on a small business card from to 20 millimeters away. It should also work well in different size formats like for example on business cards, brochure, t-shirt design and other marketing materials such as embroidery, stamping, embossing, etc.
A good logo will work well in many colors and in just one or two colors (yes, black is a color). A good logo will work well on light backgrounds as well as dark backgrounds, even on multicolored backgrounds.
Many start-ups and smaller companies use their logo on a few marketing materials but use something else on other materials. Be sure that you use your logo consistently and be sure that your logo allows you the flexibility to do so in multiple formats. You can learn more about flexible logos in our guide on the subject.
5. Appropriate Colors
If you are looking for a color logo, consider the messaging that color sends to your customers. Do the colors reinforce and strengthen the intended core message/personality/mood you’re trying to communicate through the logo, or do they distract or neutralize? For example, blue often communicates trust, loyalty and freshness. The color blue is common in banking or finance. Green represents life, nature and cleanliness. Also consider colors that work well with dark and white backgrounds. Because logos are often printed in black and white, chose a logo design that is viable and as strong or stronger in black and white.
Although gradients provide an aesthetically-pleasing effect on computers, consider possible future uses of the logo such as on letterheads, business cards, and merchandise. Will the logo provide ease of printing and reproduction in and on all types of media? A logo for a website or a band, or a one-off project can be more rasterized and colorful than something that’s going to be printed in many different ways.
Think twice about including more than 3 colors in a logo – too many colors will increase the cost of production when printing and may make the logo more difficult to reproduce. Although such costs have decreased considerably, this remains good advice.
Trends are good but innovation is better. (And fads are often deadly). A logo should have a long life expectancy. It will evolve and change over time, but the longer it stays the same at its heart, the better brand recognition you will get over time. Examples: Coca-Cola, Dior, Rolex. A good logo will have a sense of timelessness about it. A logo that feels anchored in a certain time period is more likely to feel outdated or need substantial repurposing fairly quickly. The best logos change very little yet feel fresh and vibrant every time.
Will it stand out among the clutter and the crowd? Does the mark distinguish itself in a unique way from the competition, or is it predictable / default / bland — and thus unmemorable and ultimately invisible to the intended audience? With thousands upon thousands of fonts, billions of color combinations, and an infinite flow of design ideas, choose the logo that is most unique. Try to avoid common logo cliches like “swoops,” “wooshes,” and “pinwheels;” these techniques are perhaps the most commonly used practices in the logo industry (just look around your house, you’ll see). Avoid clip art like the plague, unless it’s significantly modified by the artist. It’s quite disturbing when you start noticing your logo, and things that look like it on many other people’s brands. That’s the quickest way to look low-budget and second-rate.
8. Quality Typography
Typography, Typography, Typography. Ask yourself what you’re trying to communicate. Depending on the type of application; typefaces with serifs convey a sense of dignity & power, sans serifs are often more clean looking and offer either a sense of stability or whimsy (depending on the character of the face). Will the face work with what you currently have? Can it be read at small sizes? Is the letterspacing/word spacing well adjusted? (the larger the wording gets, the more obvious the flaws will be) Typography is a craft in itself- it’s the first voice of stating who you are. Beware that there are some truly horrible typefaces out there, make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
“Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” – Paul Rand
Your logo has to derive meaning from your brand, not the other way around. The world’s best brands are not well-known because of their logo, they are known because of the people and vision that the logo represents. When deciding on the direction of your logo, make sure that you have already thought about your brand and the direction of your company. This guide on building your brand identity from the ground up is a good start.
10. Vector is Best
Always request vector based graphics. It’s often tempting to ask for complex illustrations in a logo. However, unless you plan on never using your logo outside of an on-screen/online application, a JPG or PSD isn’t going to cut it. A properly drawn vector design will provide you with the ultimate flexibility.
Good branding provides a unique opportunity for small businesses to stand out from the competition. With the right logo, you are communicating your brand’s values from the first moment a customer sees it. You only get one chance for a first impression, so make it a good one.
If you are ready to create a quality logo for your business that inspires trust and confidence in your brand , consider enlisting the help of our network of over 190,000 creatives to give you great options. crowdSPRING’s Logo Design Service offers a step-by-step creative brief that helps you outline your company’s needs and allows you to select from over 100 entries on average.
Many thanks to the following talented creatives working on crowdSPRING for their collaborative effort to bring this guide to you: Jabraulter, MadRooster, Engage, KS_Knight, Typecast, OpenHead, marckohlbrugge, entz, romasuave, jellopudding, nisha0612, ciotog, graphxpro, fackhir, fredK, haetro, hollter, DWNees, Rambler001, squarelogo, MGDboston
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