What makes a good logo?Rebecca Bauer Ritz | Strategy | Thursday September 20 2012
Logo design is not just about making an identity that is visually appealing, but it also needs to be easily recognizable, scalable, readable, memorable, work in black and white as well as color, and be relevant to your audience. It’s tough work being a logo!
Part of being a good logo designer, is being a good listener. A good logo designer will ask the general questions about your company, like “what are your goals?” as well as questions like, “if you were a brand, what kind of car would you be?” They will also listen and read between the lines.
Coming up with a logo that the client adores and meets the above is a hard task that I truly love. It’s part detective, part artist and part formula. You must take into consideration what the client wants, but also be able to suggest more fitting logo options that will wow you, the client.
Each logo should be:
- Easy to read
- Designed in Black and White first
- Relevant to your audience
- Part of a larger brand
I have always had the design philosophy of K.I.S.S., or Keep it Simple, Stupid. I think this may have developed from growing up with a father who in his spare time made Shaker styled furniture with clean lines and only “necessary” pieces of wood, like dovetailed corners.
Just like Shaker style furniture only uses “necessary” pieces of wood, a logo design should only have “necessary” artwork in it. Another words, part of my time is debating – is that line or dot really necessary to make that a great logo? What elements are going to convey this company in a simple visual depiction?
Many business owners can easily get caught up in putting too much in a logo. For example, a business owner could make kitchen sinks, so they want that in the logo. But what happens if the owner later decides to also sell kitchen counter tops? Now, they’ll need a new logo.
Let’s look at some of the most well known brands – Think Apple, Fedex, Nike, and Target. These logo designs are simple, timeless and memorable. Another important point – they also don’t show what the company’s sell.
Easy to read
There are a million fonts out there, but that doesn’t mean they will all work in a logo. Logo type should be easily readable within the first glance. Plus, the easier it is to read, the more memorable it can be. Consumers are bombarded everyday with hundreds and thousands of logo’s each day, and if they can’t read it in seconds, your company will be forgotten.
Try this with your logo: Tape your logo on the wall and walk past it. If you can’t read it, its not going to be effective on a sign, in a supermarket aisle or on a shirt.
Can you read that icon at the web favicon size of 16×16 pixels? Does it look good on a billboard and a T-shirt? A logo must work across all media and be easily identifiable.
Black and White
Even though we don’t use fax machines that often (ok, I don’t at all), it is still very important for a logo to work in black and white. Why?
First, in my experience, if the logo does not work in black and white, it’s not going to work in color. This is why when I take my client’s through my logo design process, the first round I show are logo’s designed in black and white.
Second, it’s cheaper to print one color on promotional items. Plus, there will be cases when a vendor or partner specifically asked for a one color logo. One place I see them all the time are on 5k race shirts and trade show booklets.
Relevant to your audience
In order for a logo to work, it must be relevant to your target market. A logo that is designed for 10 year old boys is going to look different than one targeted towards women in their 30’s who love wine. So, before a logo can be designed for your company, you need to be able to describe your ideal audience with specific keywords. Is your company modern and sleek? Or is family oriented? These categories alone can produce drastically different results.
If someone needs a bottle of their favorite Norton wine, do they think of your wine shop? In order to get past all of your competitors, your logo needs to be easily distinguished from your competitors.
Part of a larger brand
Every company has a brand and it’s not just your logo. The following core branding elements need to be on all print and online collateral: logo, color scheme, fonts, images and tone of voice. Remember, consistency over time creates trust, which in turn creates sales. And isn’t increased sales the goal of most every business owner?
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