There are at least 5 top characteristics that make a good logo design:
1 Is your logo design readable at 1 inch big?
Does your logo design function well across both large and small mediums? If not, it’s not a good logo design. Believe it or not, a logo design has a specific job to convey to its audience in a minute amount of time. It’s not a decoration, it’s not something that needs to just look pretty. It also does not operate like a Picasso cubist painting; your audience does not have time to stand in front of it and decifer its meaning, and break down multiple elements or process an array of colors. I so often run into a client experience where they want to put as many elements into a logo design as possible, trying too hard, and not adhering to the “less is more” rule of thumb for design.
I recently had a client instruct me to illustrate a 6 bedroom house, equipped with spanish tiles, windows, sconces, a car in the driveway, trees, double doors and an ocean in the background for a logo design. This forced his real estate company name to take the back burner and only occupy 5% of the total real estate space of the logo design. When such a design is produced smaller on a business card at about .5 of an inch, his name, his brand would have been illegible. In addition, the house type would have also pigeon-holed some of his market into a specific home type sell. Always ensure the company name occupies a majority of the space of the design, a 90% logomark or icon and 10% company name, is NOT a good ratio.
2 Does your logo design appropriately address your target market and age group?
Is your age group mainly male, or both? Is it age 18-60 or more specific, only to millenials or baby boomers? Start the design process knowing who your audience is and reflect that vibe into your design elements whenever possible. You don’t want to turn off potential clients because the design feels unrelatable.
3 Do the colors used accurately reflect your brand? The psychology of color is mind-blowing to me. Banks and politicians are always using blue to convey trust. Pink is feminine, grays are strong and modern. Reds and greens are for foods and nature. Acknowledge that color plays a strong role in your brand. What if the Starbucks logo was pink? Ever notice the calming colors painted inside hospitals? Recognize the affect colors have on the brain and utilize them well into your logo design.
Oftentimes, some clients use their personal preferences to dictate their favorite color in business designs. “I really like purple”. Don’t let your home’s wall color dictate your business brand colors; separate the two at all times.
4 Is your design conceptual?
Is your design creative and of original thought? Does it say, “hey, I was made from scratch, out of love and care”, not a stock site…? Push the envelope and explore all objects, purge all items that may relate to your brand and utilize them in a unique fashion. Is there something in the negative space the viewer can see that carries out your message?
5 Is your logo design safe to use and protected?
Protect your new logo design by:
A. Take the time to write up brand guidelines that instruct your staff on proper and consistent usage, and enforce those rules among the staff and designers
B. Most importantly, file for copyright and trademark protection with the U.S. Copyright office as soon as your logo design is approved. I cannot stress this step enough.
A few years ago I did a character logo design of an animal for a small mom and pop company that was renting tubes to college kids in the Hill Country. He was adorable. He had huge teeth, hawaiian shorts, a red solo cup, and was holding an intertube with a river in the background. They loved the design since it was created exactly to match the vision they provided us. It was done and approved by the client. However, a rival company had filed for a trademark in the 90’s of a character that was a crayon sketch of a slightly similar animal, and no one would have know that, since that character was not used in any of their current branding, but they still had ownership of the child’s original sketch, and it just so happened to have 1 of the same qualities of the new character design. The client did NOT submit the new design for copyright prior to printing on signs and shirts, and was faced with a legal battle since they began to practice some similar techniques to a rival company, and had caused brand confusion with their similar business models. If they had submitted it, it would have come back not accepted and would have saved them ten of thousands of dollars in the long run.
Most logo design companies do not do both design and also trademark filing on all their logo designs. It’s usually up to the client to submit their business name, ID and design for approval, prior to utilizing it as their logo design for their brand.