Logos can be described as visual icons that provide a unique identification element to a business or product. Logos provide quick visual recognition of a Company which in-turn builds branding. Business owners and overly enthusiastic artists can often go astray in their efforts to design the perfect logo. There are too many examples of logo designs that look uninspired, overtly abstract or seem to be nothing more than whimsical art. Many of these logos are designed without forethought into usage, application or even cost impact upon a business. So how do you create a logo that makes business sense? Consider following a few simple guidelines:
Remember that your logo is a business tool. Your design concept should begin with a commitment to portray your business as professional and competent. A logo is not an art piece! Avoid using elements that may give a “dated” look such as those 1970’s flowers that were on so many Volkswagen Beetle cars. A logo design should take into consideration how, when and where the logo will be used. A logo has a cost impact upon your business from the day that it is introduced. There is more to designing a logo than simply hiring an artist or online art shop to assemble shapes and colors – it is a business decision.
Avoid complicated and intricate designs. A logo that is too intricate hinders rapid visual identification. The viewer is required to “study” the image in order to mentally process the image and relate its identification to a given company. Note the simplicity and high visual impact of the Nike “Swish”, an excellent image. Another reason to avoid complicated designs is that they do not reduce well. A busy, intricate logo on the side of a company truck may look wonderful but when the same logo is reduced in size for use on a business card it may become a meaningless blob of ink. Keep it simple and clean.
Limit color selection to a maximum of three colors. Ideally use one or two colors but never more than three. There are three main reasons for this guideline. One, your printing costs for printing business cards, letterhead, envelops, labels, etc. are increased for every additional color that you require. Your “cheap” logo design could end up costing you a lot of money. Reason number two, your visual impact or even identification could be diminished or completely lost in some mediums. Consider a logo that has overlaid images of different colors – looks nice, right? What about when you fax your proposal or letter and your logo is now in a black and white realm? Does the black and white (grayscale) version still provide distinction? An example of lost-in-translation logo is a peacock used to promote color and via fax it ends up looking like a turkey. A final note on color selection is to carefully consider cultural and marketplace standards. For example, red may be lesser choice for a medical company due to the negative association of red to blood/danger whereas green might infer safety or a positive status.
Consistency and control in font usage. Do not use over two font styles, as it may be distracting and confusing. Try to use a standard font such as Times New Roman, Arial, etc. as it makes commercial reproduction of your image easier. Any font style should be sans serif and typically non-script to improve clarity in small format reproduction. An exception is a logo/name where the logo is the script font such as the trade name of a popular soft drink in a uniquely shaped bottle.
Check Trademark and Registration Rights. While a new logo runs a low statistical chance of violating any trademark or registration rights of any existing logo it is not a bad idea to make some effort to confirm this before you publish your new logo. And after you have settled on a final logo design you should take the effort to register or trademark your own logo. If you need an example of why then consider the yellow pages “Walking Fingers” logo. The design was never trademarked or registered and has no copyrights protection – it could have been, but wasn’t – a huge loss of value for the original creators.