The first logo I remember designing was probably around fifth grade for my imaginary video games company.
I’ve worked on several hundred since then, so here are some tips to make sure your logo doesn’t look like it was done by a fifth grader.
Firstly, remember that your logo is just the gateway to the brand. A brilliant logo won’t mean much without context and brand storytelling around it. See my post here for more about that.
So what makes a great logo design?
- Be unique & memorable, avoiding cliches. So if you’re designing a brand for Muslims, avoid using crescents, stars and domes unless you have a very specific reason. You’ll end up looking like everything else Muslims have seen for the last twenty years.
- Aim for metaphors & symbolism, avoid being literal. The Apple logo represents simplicity, not food. The Nike swoosh represents movement and activity, there is no shoe in the logo.
- Keep it simple. Have only key design element at work, or several working as a whole. Reduce visual details unless they really add to the intended effect.
- Reflect the brand’s attributes & personality. It should generate a distinct feeling towards the brand. Google’s logo is playful and colourful not serious or ’techy’.
- Visually balanced. All elements should work in harmony, with the right proportions and composition of colour, typography and possibly a brand mark that feels just right.
- Well-considered typography. Find a typeface that reflects the two points above. Pay attention to kerning (letter spacing). Go watch the film ‘Helvetica’ for a fun lesson in visual culture.
- Versatile and flexible. It may end up in all sorts of places both digital and in print, so make sure it can scale, can work as a solid colour or in reverse from another colour. You can have several variations in different layouts, no problem.
- You are happy with it. Design is subjective, some will love it, some will hate it. But make sure it feels right to you and that it inspires personal confidence in your brand.
What if you already have a logo? Should I keep it because people know it, or change because it feels outdated?
Some of the best advice I’ve read is, “A new logo should be a symbol of change, not a change of symbol.” It depends on each business and organisation. Sometimes a refresh or re-imagination of the current branding works best, other times it’s more appropriate to start a fresh new chapter altogether, even a name change. In any case, should be linked to the vision of the organisation and it’s strategic brand direction.
Here are some logos that my team & I have designed in the past few years.