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:

Instagram

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.