These are some basic guidelines and key points for logo design to keep in mind when creating a brand identity for your business.
Before we get into it though, there’s one thing I want to make clear. In this post I’m outlining a lot of widely-accepted and well-endorsed advice, but I think some of the most interesting and memorable design ideas are the ones that break “rules”.
That’s not to say I think you should ignore the advice; in fact, I really think it’s only by really understanding these key points for logo design first that you can understand how to go in an entirely different direction and create something amazing. There should always be well-balanced and considered reasons behind every design decision.
If there’s anything to take away from this post, it should be that although every good designer knows the basics, they should also be willing to push the boundaries and always keep trying to break into new ground.
But enough of that! Here are the key points for logo design that I think every designer should consider each time they work on a project.
1. Less is more — Keep things simple and memorable
Simplify and streamline logo designs to improve versatility and memorability. A logo that’s too detailed is difficult to reproduce, with complex elements being lost as a logo is shrunk down or printed. Complex logos are also harder for people to recall and take more time to process. Keep things simple, with strong, clean shapes, and leave out any purely decorative stuff, like overly intricate textures, gradients and shadow effects.
2. Colour — What does it say to the viewers?
Certain colours have strong associations, although every country or culture has its own interpretations (something to consider when dealing with global brands). Colour can be a great way to set a logo apart from others in the same industry and making a strong impression on the audience.
It can be easy to get caught up trying to select the perfect palette though, so one good idea is designing in monochrome first. Using only black and white (or grey and white if, like me, you find black to be a bit overpowering) forces you to consider just the logo shapes first and getting those right.
There will definitely be times when the logo will have to be rendered in a single colour, so you want to make sure the logo can stand on its own, without depending on any colour to work. Once you’ve worked out the logo’s silhouette, then you can try some colour options.
3. Design style — Matching the logo with the brand personality
Make sure the design style of the logo is appropriate for the brand that it’s for. The logo is also often the starting point for your whole brand identity and will dictate the overall style of your brand’s look. Ask yourself if it should it be more classic in style? Or modern? Maybe a hand-crafted feel?
Make sure the logo is a reflection of the brand you’re creating it for, and it effectively communicates what your business is all about. And don’t let your ego get in the way! This logo is not about you! (Unless you’re creating it for your personal brand, in which case it is a lot about you. But also, very importantly, your audience!)
4. Typography — How legible are the words and letters?
With the stylising that can come with creating icons and marks out of business names or initials, sometimes legibility goes out the window. You definitely want to be aware of how well someone can read what your logo says. Difficult-to-read logos can frustrate the audience and make the business name difficult to recall, while misread logos might send them to another business entirely.
Think also about how the style of the typography used for the brand name sends a message to the audience. Sans-serifs can look more relaxed and modern than formal, professional-looking serif fonts. Hand-lettered typefaces can appear more feminine and hand-crafted.
5. Scalability — Make sure the logo works at all sizes
Do all the elements of the logo work when you shrink it down to the size of your thumbnail? Fine line work and tiny type sure won’t. The logo won’t always be tiny though. Also, go over all outlines with a microscope, and make sure everything is smoothly rendered and have consistent shapes with no odd spacing or unwanted details that will negatively catch the eye of the audience.
6. Adaptability — Considering alternative uses
Is the logo versatile, and will it work effectively on all kinds of collateral? A logo’s uses will differ depending on the client, so be sure to understand how a logo will be reproduced, and take it into consideration when designing. For example, social media is a major part of a particular brand, you don’t want to be making a logo that is long and narrow because it won’t fit well in profile pictures. Make sure you know where the logo is going to go before you get down to designing it.
Using alternative (secondary) logos can also help overcome potential adaptability issues.
7. Stand out — Do something different from the competition
Research the competition, check what they’re doing, and work out how to create something contrasting. Consider the story behind the brand, the business name and anything else that makes the business, as a whole, unique, and incorporate these ideas into the logo design if possible. Avoid using clichéd or generic ideas. Just because your client is a florist, does the logo have to have a flower in it? Push through obvious ideas and explore more uncommon concepts.
8. Timelessness – Beware of trends
It can be easy to get caught up in the latest trends, but it can also mean ending up with a logo that looks dated in less than a year. Keep the design simple (see point 1), save the flashy and exciting new typefaces for projects with shorter lifespans, and avoid concepts that reference specific technology or other things that are always swiftly progressing.
So these are my key points for logo design that you should consider when creating a logo. I think the above tips outline the basic things to watch out for and should keep you on the right track with any new logo projects. Good luck!
What are some key points for logo design that you live by?
Looking for more content? Try these:
- What is branding, and why is it so important?
- You need to do a brand audit, and here are the great reasons why
- How to stand out with authentic branding
- Should you hire a graphic designer for your small business?
- When it’s time to rebrand – signs your brand needs reviving
- How to use consistent branding to grow your business
- How a strong foundation will ensure an engaging, profitable brand