August 9, 2021Comments are off for this post.

The 6 essential elements of a well designed logo

A well designed logo is a great investment: It can give your company a competitive edge, increase customer loyalty, and create brand awareness. It can be a wordmark (or symbol) or it can be completely typographic, or both! Here, let's discuss the 6 essential factors that can help create a well designed logo for your business.

(Also see my previous article on the 9 most common logo mistakes you should avoid.)

A logo should be simple

Your logo shouldn't be overly complicated. Simplicity can often make logos more memorable and recognizable. McDonald's is well known for their golden arches, while Apple has largely relied on keeping things clean with the bitten apple (in a variety of color variations) since 1977. The simplicity of these logo designs helps them to look iconic no matter where they are displayed or how big they become.

Below, the CitiCorp Plaza logo (I designed this real estate logo at least 2 decades ago!) mirrors the way the buildings "stack" when you are looking at them, and easily identifies who and what they are while keeping the Citibank branding.

CitiCorp Plaza well designed logo

Distinctive logos are memorable

A striking design can help your brand stand out from others. Nike has its swoosh and Starbucks is recognized by their green siren; both examples are easily distinguishable from other companies because they each offer something unique. One way of achieving this might be by using uncommon colors or shapes in your design so it doesn't get lost among other brands on marketing materials.

Consider too, do you want a logo mark or just a typographical logo? A mark can add distinction and further identify what your organization is all about.

Below, I designed these logos for an interior design firm, and the accompanying furniture recovering service. Though their design marks and artwork are a bit intricate, they still convey the owner's design sensibilities and a sophisticated, stylish taste.

Crown Design Group interior design & furniture co logo designs

Well designed logos are timeless

Your logo should be timeless in the sense that it has no references to current trends and popular culture (so you can use it well into the future). This matters, because logos are often used on everything from business cards to clothing.

A good way of thinking about this concept might be if someone saw your brand’s shirt at an event 20 years later; would they recognize it? If not, then maybe you need something simpler which will stand out rather than blend in over time.

This makes me think of Nirvana, whose melting smiley face is still recognizable decades later (and on many shirts from Target!).

Nirvana logo

Logos should have relevance

The other factor is that your logo has to be relevant to what you do as well as the target audience and customers. Nike's swoosh was designed with runners in mind, while DC Comics' Batman symbol (which isn't actually written out) is well known by comic book fans.

You want customers to feel a connection with your logo and remember it when they see it again, rather than feeling like the company doesn't represent them (or you!) in any way.

The Tour through a Lens logo is for a local Chicago photography tourism business, so it felt natural for me to design it with a bit of the Chicago skyline (I am loathe to use the whole skyline on anything!), emanating from the hint of a lens, all coming from the business name.

tourism guide logo

A well-designed logo is adaptive

Another important aspect of well-designed logos is that they're adaptive. This means the logo can be used across a variety of mediums and still have an impactful design, feel recognizable, and stand out from others.

How will your logo design look at 1" tall, or 10' tall? It should be created as a vector and from that, you can create size-appropriate versions for the web, print and other applications.

Whenever possible, creating images or icons to accompany and represent your brand, product or service will help to build more recognition. Think Mailchimp's 2018 rebrand, with its fun and fluid illustrations. Logos with great illustrations or handwriting (but not Comic Sans!) show personality and are memorable, and are quite popular lately.

And sometimes, you break the rules

Look at ways your logo may have different interpretations depending on how it's used in different colours or sizes and use that to great effect. The best example of this is the FedEx logo, which looks great in a variety of colors, for their different services:

A well-designed logo should be simple, distinctive, timeless yet relevant to your audience, and adaptive. As you can see from these guidelines in addition to some well-known (and lesser-known!) logo examples, there are many factors that go into a great design. Let me help you create your own well-designed logo by following some of these key principles for success!

August 2, 2021Comments are off for this post.

The 9 most common logo mistakes you should avoid

As an artist, graphic designer, and a business owner who specializes in logo design, I've seen my fair share of bad logos. I won't say it can make or break you, but it definitely speaks volumes about your business. It'll be on your business cards, your website, your marketing collateral and across social media. Shouldn't your logo be the best representation of who you are? Let's take a look at the 9 most common logo mistakes that people make when designing their company's mark.

The logo is unclear in intention

Make sure people know what purpose your logo serves at first glance by making it clear for them through color usage, shape placement/size/orientation etc.

With the JCUA (Jewish Council on Urban Affairs) logo, I wanted to convey diversity and change, and the many different causes they represent. It's also much more dynamic than their past logo and reflects where they are going.

Jewish Council on Urban Affairs logo

For the Thrive Medical Spa logo, I wanted to convey sophistication but also movement and sophistication. It looks great on marketing collateral and even better when fabricated in metal, on their wall!

Medical spa logo

By being clear on your logo's intention you can make sure people know who/what the logo is for at first glance.

It's just like every other logo in your industry

I brought this issue up when I spoke at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, to groups of aspiring acupuncturists. You may think you're being original by using a lotus flower and the Papyrus font for your acupuncture business, but a quick Google image search shows that everyone else thought they were original too:

Acupuncture logos

The color scheme clashes

When picking colors for your logo, make sure they complement each other. If your logo has a lot of colors, then pick one as your primary color and use the others to accent it (and those should also be complementary).

Consider extending your palette beyond the initial 1-4 colors too, as you'll need to extend your brand into a website and possibly business cards, marketing collateral, etc. A well thought out palette simplifies things for employees or anyone else working with your brand.

Below, a sample extended palette (and fonts) for the Evidence Video website.

And, your logo will likely be black and white at some point, so how will it look in a flat black and white, with no color?

It's too busy

Keep logo designs simple and straightforward. When there's too much going on in the logo, it's difficult to get any meaning from the logo design itself. Keep it simple by focusing on one main visual element or line of thought. You can use logo design to tell a story, but make sure that the logo is readable at smaller sizes as well.

It needs more depth

Use an additional color(s), transparency, shadows or highlights, if you want your logo design to have dimension. Gradients have been popular in recent years as well. Think of the Instagram or Firefox logos:


Copying another design

You don't want to imitate someone else's style, you want your own unique voice! If people see that it reminds them of another company, they could assume you are trying to imitate them. This makes your logo (and by extension, your company) seem amateurish and unoriginal.

This is an issue I've often heard about on those cheap logo sites: You bought the logo, but they also sold the same design to a dozen others, and now you have copyright issues.

Too trendy

Stay away from designs that are very popular at the moment because they will quickly become dated. Stick with classic styles which never go out of style.

Poor font choice

Choose a logo font that is attractive and differentiates you from your competitors. It's easy to fall into the trap of fanciful fonts like Papyrus (or even Comic Sans? Perish the thought!) but a logo can quickly look amateurish with them.

The logo is too simple or cliche

You want people to remember your logo, not confuse it with another company's logo. Avoid fonts and color schemes that have been used over and over again in other logos (like Helvetica, though I'd still rather use that over a trendy font).

It can be tempting to rush into logo design without thinking about these things, but you'll want your logo to last and grow with your company. It should clearly represent your brand's message as well as its personality. You want to stand out from the crowd and be noticed!

Next I'll share what makes a well-designed logo and how to end up with a great design.

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