So many of my clients come to me with visions of a monumental, new logo design. Most arrive with elaborate visions of incorporating multiple concepts, fonts and colors. They envision their new logo to be a work by Picasso, expecting the viewer to have the time to sit and analyze the piece and interpret little intricacies and nuances. In reality, a logo needs just to be just the opposite to function properly.
After much experience and research, I have developed a quick cheat sheet for developing an effective logo design.
1.) TRIM THE FAT:
Think of your logo as a hamburger. Sure, we’d love to have the angus one with extra bacon, cheese and mayo; all the fixings piled into one conglomerated tower of juicy goodness. But, we’d be left feeling overwhelmed with the job of having to process all those layers. The same applies to a good logo design. A logo is most effective, more mobile, more durable, and more applicable across multiple platforms when it is simplified.
2.) CAN YOU IDENTIFY YOUR LOGO AT 1 INCH BIG?:
This is the true test of a winning logo. The primary job of a logo is to tell the viewer in about 3 seconds, what you do or sell. Is your company name covered up in cheesy, texture treatments of trendy swirls? Does the icon take up more real estate than the organization’s name?
If so, than that logo needs to be “off like a prom dress” from your logo options list. Think of your logo as a “mark”, a little, symbolic “nugget” that represents what you do. Tape it on a coffee mug, a t-shirt pocket and leave them around the house. Let them marinate and see how visible they are when small and in the real world. Ask yourself if it holds its weight at a smaller scale.
3.) IS YOUR LOGO READABLE IN ONLY BLACK AND WHITE? Do NOT rely on color for impact. If you are, than you don’t have a good logo concept down. You have to assume that somewhere down the line, your logo will be photocopied on crappy black and white printer or embroidered on company hats or shirts. This is another classic test that all of the best logos pass and it demonstrates that the message is clear and transcends color or any other supportive techniques.
4.) DOES YOUR LOGO CONVEY WHAT YOU DO // THE IMPORTANCE OF TYPOGRAPHY:
Does your logo present the feeling that captures what you are trying to represent or sell? Would an illiterate person be able to guess the genre of work you provide based on the typography or icon? Make sure your icon (if used), or typography treatment really capture the spirit of your company.
Example: If you are a law firm, you probably do not want to use Comic sans as the font and portray a feeling of casual fun. Stay away from the standard computer fonts that are available for public use (times, arial, etc). The font selected needs to be like a sophisticated woman, not one that’s cheap, easy and readily available. You don’t want someone copying your logo style and being able to use the font already on their computer. Take the time to browse sites for particular fonts. Some font sites offer great, original fonts for $15-$35 on average, and other sites offer similar fonts for free.
5.) BE FREE! BE CREATIVE!
One of the best things I learned in design college was to make a word list of words and objects that describe or relate to the organization of which you are designing a logo for. I remember the example used by the snobby professor to this day. The company was a coffee company located at the top of a hill. So one side of the list were words relating to “high” and the other side “coffee”. The end result was the name “Higher Grounds” Coffee. On both lists, graphics were drawn for each. It was basically a purging of as many images and words as possible without the limitation or stigma of being afraid something was too silly or inappropriate, thus allowing you to explore. Pour a brew-skie for you-ski, or a glass of wine and scribble all your ideas on paper. Just remember to apply the rules listed above. Enjoy!