With the increasing number of companies and brands in the world, it has never been more important to stand apart from the competition. While there are a variety of methods to achieve differentiation, one of the most crucial is the development of a unique and memorable visual identity and logo. For this article, we’re going to be focusing on the logo; a tiny graphic with massive importance. Think otherwise? Then try to visualize any top brand without their logo entering your minds eye.
But what really goes into creating a quality logo? What steps should be taken? Well, glad you asked. Here are some tips to help you create more memorable, timeless and appropriate logo designs.
1. Ask the right questions
A memorable logo is nothing, unless it’s fitting of the business/brand it’s created for. Which is why it’s so crucial for you as a designer to understand your client’s needs, intended brand message, and what makes them stand apart from their competition. This is achieved through asking the right questions, understanding your client’s desired target market, and performing adequate research into their business, industry and competition. If you’re not performing adequate research and design briefs, not only are you doing your clients a disservice, you’re increasing the chance of endless revision requests.
2. Make your logos appropriate
Once you gather all the information you need, you must make sure you implement it properly. Not only does the logo need to help your client stand apart, be memorable, timeless and visual pleasing, it needs to be appropriate for their needs; and properly convey their brand message.
For instance, if the company you are creating a logo for sells kids toys, it probably wouldn’t make much sense to go with a stiff logo in a dark color. Or as Sara Cornel, a designer at Australian Help, says “A frilly, playful font would not suit an auto mechanic shop, but would work perfectly for a clothing store or a florist company.” And not only does the styling matter, but also the font choices and color schemes. According to study, color increases the recognition of brand by 80%.
3. Symbols are not essential
Even though it’s common to have a stand-alone symbol (aka: “mark”) in logos, there are other ways to integrate unique elements. If the company’s name is unique, there may be no need for a standalone mark or even a mark at all. Consider the following brand logos: Google, Kleenex, Disney, Ebay, and Mobil. These symbol-less logos are referred to as “logotypes”. And there are others, such as Amazon, which incorporate visual elements into the name itself (a combination logo).Things to explore with logotype or combination style logos include: tweaking a font, adding a relevant visual element, or creating a custom lettering from scratch. There are also monogram style logos where the starting brand initial(s) are customized into a visual pleasing graphic. Also consider creating secondary visual elements such as patterns which borrow from the logo or other aspects of a visual system. The point here is that symbols are not always necessary in a logo. Think outside the box. Instead of placing a logo graphic above or to the left of the brand name, see if a less typical placement could be used.
4. Understand the meaning of colors
As you start adding color to your design, you have to understand what each color means.
According to a study by Cardiff Business School, here are some common color associations:
- Red is energetic, immediate, exciting. Ponder why Coca-Cola, Pinterest, CNN, and Target use the color red in their branding.
- Orange is friendly, confident and fun. Some of the brands that use it in their logos are Blogger, Hooters, Nickelodeon and Home Depot.
- Yellow is happy, optimistic and youthful. Brands that use it include McDonald’s, Best Buy, Ikea, Sonic and many food chains.
- Blue is symbolic of trust and loyalty. It’s no wonder that companies like PayPal, American Express and Facebook use it as a primary color.
- Green portrays fresh, healthy and growth. Brands which use this color include Animal Planet, StarBucks and Whole Foods.
- Purple is creative, luxurious and royal. FedEx, LA Lakers, Cadbury and Hallmark use purple.
- Black is rich, authoritative, powerful and neutral. Used by brands such as Wikipedia, Nike, Adidas, and WWF (World Wildlife Fund).
More on the psychology of color here.
5. Try being witty
Everyone loves a logo that makes them smile. Look at Amazon for example, and their arrow which mimics a smile while pointing from a to z. It’s by no means easy creating a witty or clever logo, and in some cases may not be appropriate for a particular brand, though when done well they tend to draw much attention.While wit in a logo is great, humor can be a bit more tricky to implement and can easily make a company or brand come across as unprofessional. It’s probably best to leave the humor for tv commercials / ads (ex: Geico), and let the logo simply act as an identifier. That doesn’t mean a logo needs to always be serious, just use caution.
6. Strive to be unique
Being unique gives your clients an opportunity to stand apart from the crowd. For instance, if you notice that a majority of designers use a similar font, consider something more unusual or even more traditional (as long as it’s still fitting). Sometimes it takes a brave client to consider an outside the box design idea, but if you can present it in the right way you may be able to convince them of the benefits.
7. Work in black and white, add color later
It’s best to start working in black and white with logo creation. This will allow you focus on the basics. A bad idea isn’t going to be improved by color. Wait until a design is near completion before exploring color palettes. Instead focus on the logo’s lines, shapes, layout, and overall concept.
8. Use white space to your advantage
White space can elevate a message or design and makes it more powerful visually. The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) logo uses negative space well, as does the brilliant FedEx logotype which reveals a subtle white arrow hidden inside the lettering. Since our eyes are trained to focus on the more visible, it can be challenging trying to design with negative space in mind. Though if you’re able to integrate this approach into your creative process, it can definitely open up new creative possibilities.
9. Always have a sketch pad on you
Just like writers always have a notebook on hand, designers should follow suite with a sketchbook. The best designers sketch and explore word maps before moving to the computer. Of course there are always exceptions, and everyone has their own preferred workflow, but try this approach if you’re not already. Even if it’s just to minimize your time on the computer.
Thanks For Reading
While there are no set rules for logo creation, there’s a reason why the world’s top brands and best designers adhere to the above strategies when it comes to logo creation and brand identity development. Hopefully we’ve shared something that you may find helpful.
Also check out: 40 tips towards better logo designs and key elements of good logo design. If you’re in need of professional custom logo design services, Derek Kimball (the owner of this website) specializes in logo creation and brand identity design.