Logos are intended to inspire brand loyalty in customers and to imply superiority above competing brands. Forming one aspect of a company’s brand identity, they are typically designed in keeping with specific brand guidelines.
This relates to a certain colour scheme, images and even language used by the company’s marketing team to convey its message to existing and new customers. In this way, logos are used as an emblem of the business that people will instantly make a positive association with – but what makes a good logo – and how do you design one?
How Important are Logos?
According to leading designer Paul Rand (designer of logos for the ABC television network and IBM, amongst many others), “A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around.”.
Having a logo is important – but only in the much broader context of a marketing campaign, where all the different elements combine to communicate an effective and impactful message to the target audience. Certainly, they are not as important as the product being sold – but they can help to promote it.
The Anatomy Of A Good Logo
In essence, what makes a good professional logo relates to five key points as set out by designer Nancy Wu’s “5 Principles of Effective Logo Design”:
The simplicity of some logo designs can lead some to mistakenly think of the design process as easy – but nothing could be further from the truth: the best logos are deceptively simple in form: the result of a carefully-considered planning process.
Before designing a logo, it’s always a good idea to have a goal in mind. Keeping this at the forefront throughout the design process can help to keep the project focussed and centred. Use some of the points below to guide you through the process.
How To Design an Effective Logo
1. The Design Brief
When following a client brief, remember that good logo designers always underpromise and overdeliver – meaning that while you should put your best work in, it’s advisable to also leave space for an element of (pleasant) surprise.
2. Put Your Audience First
Consider what both the client and target audience are looking for – as this will help to shape your end goal – and ensure it complements the rest of the brand strategy: a good logo should also be in keeping with the overall brand aesthetic and mission statement of the company it represents – so think in terms of how fitting the design is.
3. Consider the Concept
In other words, how the colours and shapes you use create a mental association in the audience’s mind between the product and the image you have created. Consider colour psychology (for instance, the prevalence of red used in food logos such as Coca Cola) as well as dynamic imagery like the wings shared by a number of car manufacturers such as Mini and Aston Martin.
4. …yet Original
While this appears like something of a contradiction, it is possible to create a logo that is simultaneously classic and novel. The point is not to ape great logo designers, but to put your own spin on the successful design elements of memorable logos. This will help to ensure your logo is distinctive (for advice on learning from other designers, Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist is a fun and informative read).
The charming acronym “keep it simple, stupid” is a design prinicple coined by the US Navy in 1960 which has since been used effectively in a range of contexts. This also relates the effective use of space in design to add emphasis, rather than overwhelm. Or, to coin another famous Dutch designer, “less is more.”
6. Colour and Contrast
In the interest of keeping things simple, it’s also important to avoid going overboard with the colour palette. Reverse colour contrasts can be effective – or even no colour at all (if opting for a monochromatic logo, as exemplified by the WWF’s famous panda.
7. Consider A Tagline
Not all companies have a tagline – and not all companies need one: if you do choose one, make it simple, effective and catchy. Again, consider the subjective nature of marketing: what emotional impact do their taglines have? What promise is the tagline making? Does it embody the intended message of the company?
8. Make It Scalable
Many years ago, we might have seen more intricately designed logos on our brands. These days – with the advent of digital and print media – we are more likely to see simpler logos that are clearly distinguishable regardless of whether they are seen on a billboard or a smartphone. A good logo should be simple in design, easily printable (and legible) in a variety of sizes.
Reflection throughout the design process is all about taking a step back and seeing your design with fresh eyes – so don’t forget to take a break now and then so you can return to the project with renewed enthusiasm.
10. Revise, Position, Present
Once you have made all the necessary adjustments, present the logo to your client (PDF is typically the best format, although you may also want to demonstrate how it can be used in other media).
Remember when doing so that the client will not necessarily be familiar with technical terms related to graphic design, so tailor your presentation accordingly so that it’s inclusive, leaving room for any questions they might have.
11. Make it Timeless
Creating a timeless logo is important for a number of reasons – primarily brand loyalty. While innovation and progress are always welcome in any industry, logo reboots tend to be a risky business (as some notable brands have demonstrated in the past) – although some, such as gas and electrical company British Gas have managed to prove otherwise, changing their logo three times between 1986 and 2012.
The best logos earned their acclaim for a reason – so pay attention to the greats and see what inspiration you can glean from them, especially if you notice commonalities between popular brands. Identify the graphic elements they are using – and how you can apply them to your own design.
Placement and Purpose
If you are a business owner, maximising the visibility of your logo is essential: which is where our team can help. With a range of merchandise from custom key rings to handy logo pens, there are plenty of ways to increase the reach of your business and connect with more customers.