In our age of computers, there are millions of people out there calling themselves designers and offering logo design services. The real question: how many of them actually know what makes a truly great logo design? While there’s no formulaic answer to this question, there are a number of fundamental design principles that will surely point you in the right direction:
1. Less is usually more
This is arguably the most important aspect of logo design and one that is often dismissed. Flashy effects, a veritable rainbow of colours, and detailed illustrations are only a few of the many temptations that can reel an amateur designer in. While these may look impressive at first glance, they only tend to work well in very specific situations. In the real world, logos often need to be printed in a minuscule size, and/or using just 1 colour. Suddenly, that 12-colour 3D surfing unicorn logo seems pretty useless. The lesson here is that keeping it nice and simple can ultimately pack more of a punch even if this is counterintuitive.
2. Flexibility is key
There once was a time when a company’s letterhead was the only place a logo would live. But nowadays, a great logo needs to work in print, on the web, embroidered on a hat, as a small icon on a social media account, and that’s just the very surface. 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! A savvy designer will consider how the logo works in horizontal and vertical lockups and as a standalone icon.
3. Geometry is your friend
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 respect for the fundamentals of 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 an esthetically pleasing logo should be too!
4. Don’t forget your audience
When designing a logo, it’s important to consider the target audience its meant for. Does the logo make you think of the product or service being offered? Does it inspire a purchase? Is it memorable? These are the questions that need to be asked in order to ensure the logo not only looks good, but is effective as well. World class design aside, a logo of a dirty worm will not inspire people to drink your apple juice.
5. Timelessness is power
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 – it 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 by opting for a tried and true approach: simplicity.
6. Always be unique
I’ve kept this for last because the entire success of your logo hinges on its “unique” factor. Even a logo with a great design can be a failure if there isn’t a creative concept behind it. We’ve all seen the hordes of generic logos with wavy lines or a series of circles. The problem? I can’t remember any of the brand names associated with them or what they actually sell! What’s the solution? Use fresh combinations to put a new twist on an old idea.
Whether you’re a designer, a client, or a consumer, I hope the above tips help you look at logos with a fresh perspective. There really is a ton of behind the scenes work necessary to making a great logo!