In an age of computers, there are millions of people out there calling themselves designers and offering logo design services. The real question is how many of them know what makes a great logo design? There’s no perfect formula to answer this, but there are a number of fundamental design principles that will surely point you in the right direction:
This is arguably the most important aspect of logo design and one that is often forgotten. Flashy effects, a rainbow of colours, and detailed illustrations are only a few of the temptations that can reel in an amateur designer. These may look impressive at first glance, but only work in perfect situations. In the real world there are times where a logo needs to be printed at a minuscule size and can only use 1 colour. Suddenly that 12-colour 3D surfing unicorn logo seems pretty useless. The lesson here is to keep it simple, stupid.
There once was a time when a company’s letterhead was the only place a logo would live. Now, a great logo will need to work in print, on the web, embroidered on a hat or as a small icon on a social media account. How on earth could a single logo possibly work in all of those scenarios? It can’t, but a logo system should do the trick! The best designers will consider how the logo will work in horizontal and vertical lockups or as a standalone icon.
Have you ever seen a logo that felt a little off or awkward to look at? There’s a good chance it was because the design wasn’t built with geometry. Look closely at a flower pedal or a snail’s shell and you’ll notice that they can all be broken down into basic shapes. The entire natural world is made up of circles, squares and triangles and your logo should be too!
It is important to consider the target audience a logo is meant for. Does the logo make you think of the product or service that is being offered? Does it inspire a purchase? Is it Memorable? These are the questions that should be asked to ensure that the logo not only looks good, but is effective as well. World class design or not – if you’ve got a logo of a dirty worm, people won’t want to drink your apple juice.
Trends come and go but a great logo will stand the test of time. There’s a reason the CN railway logo hasn’t changed since the 60s – the mark uses design fundamentals and steers clear of generational styles. Peace symbols and tie dye were groovy in the 60s, but they sure wouldn’t make sense on a railcar now. Avoid re-branding every 5 years and stick with simplicity.
I’ve left this for last because the entire success of your logo hinges on the “unique” factor. Even a logo with great design can be a failure if there isn’t a creative concept behind it. We’ve all seen the generic logos with wavy lines or a series of circles. The problem is that I can’t remember any of those brands names or what they sell! What’s the solution? Use combinations to put a new twist on an old idea.
Whether you’re a designer, a client or an ordinary consumer, I hope you’ll look at logos differently after reading this. There really is a lot of work behind the scenes to make a great logo.
Looking for more? Starting next week I’ll be launching my Step-By-Step Logo Design Series that will take you on a detailed journey of a logo design project from start to finish.