It’s good you’re doing some research on how to make a logo work for your business.
By research, we don’t mean asking your brother-in-law’s nephew who took a class on graphic design for advice. And don’t fall for logo design contests or sites that offer to make you a logo for just $5. We’d hate to say we told you so!
It’s important to study what has worked in the past. Read up on the opinions and advice of the experts. Look at the works of graphic design legends like Paul Rand, Saul Bass and Alan Fletcher. They all have great insights that will make your logo exceptional.
Then ask these questions and keep the answers in mind as you create your design…
- What are the goals for your business?
- What is your brand’s personality?
- What is unique about your business compared to the competition?
- What values do you want to communicate with the logo?
With all that in mind, you’re probably ready to start brainstorming what the perfect logo for your company might look like.
As a graphic designer my personal logo design methods were inspired by Paul Rand. He created iconic logos for ABC Television, UPS, IBM and many more. Rand’s concepts give us some effective building blocks for designing your logo.
Six Tips For Creating a Logo That Works
1.Keep it Simple
Here’s an example of a logo I found that is too complex and gaudy. It’s for a “taxi service” that is more of a delivery service. (They bring stuff from stores directly to your home)
According to Rand, a cartoon-like image is going to blow up in your face.
“The role of the logo is to point, to designate—in as simple a manner as possible. A design that is complex, like a fussy illustration or an arcane abstraction, harbors a self-destruct mechanism. Simple ideas, as well as simple designs are, ironically, the products of circuitous mental purposes. Simplicity is difficult to achieve, yet worth the effort.”
Simplicity helps people remember. Its more of a bold mark. Easily recognizable. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Aristocrat french writer and poet said it well,
“It seems that perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
Think of the Target bulls-eye, Nike, Oreo, or Disney. If you were asked to describe them, would you be able to? Probably. Now close your eyes and see if you can easily describe the taxi service logo you just saw. Not quite as easy unless you’ve got a photographic memory.
2. Make it Last Forever
Longevity and timelessness are key to designing an amazing logo.
Think of how long companies like Coca-cola, Ford Motor Company, McDonalds, and ABC have been around. We don’t have to show you those logos because you already know what they look like. They’ve been the same forever.
Your goal should be to create a logo design that is a true classic and will continue to be effective for years to come.
That’s why if you already do have a logo that works, don’t even think about changing it. That’s suicide.
3. Make it Fit Your Business
Make sure your logo is appropriate for the industry you are in.
For example, a hospital shouldn’t use a childish wacky font just as a children’s bounce house might not want to use a serious font like Times New Roman.
Also, pay attention to how the font, colors, shapes and images make you feel. Does it identify your business accurately?
I don’t mean that your logo needs to explain what services you offer or what products you’re selling. In fact, 94% of the top 50 brands in the world do not use their logo to describe what the company does.
4. Make it Visible
Paul Rand wrote in his article Logos, Flags, and Escutcheons,
“Ultimately, the only thing mandatory, it seems, is that a logo be attractive, reproducible in one color and in exceedingly small sizes.”
Simply put, it needs to look good in black and white, as small as a Favicon (16 pixels X 16 pixels)
5. Make it Memorable
You want your logo to get permanently burned into the brains of potential customers. Here’s yet another bit of advice from Mr. Rand regarding memorability,
“It is easier to remember a well designed image than one that is muddled. A well design logo, in the end, is a reflection of the business it symbolizes. It connotes a thoughtful and purposeful enterprise, and mirrors the quality of its products and services.”
Basically, you need to follow all the other steps in this article. If your design is simple, appropriate, visible and attractive, people will remember it- especially if your company rocks!
6. Be Different Than the Rest
“Don’t follow the pack…stand out.”
Says David Airey, graphic designer and author of Logo Design Love.
Way back, I worked as a sales rep for a dental supply company called Dental City. They made the decision to brand themselves much differently than most of their competition. They didn’t want to follow the normal look that other dental supply companies had. It was too serious, too cold and too sterile.
Here are some of Dental City’s competitor logos…
This is the logo Dental City had created…
It stands out! The company did a great job of differentiating not just their logo, but their entire brand from the rest.
3 Quick Technical Tips For Designing Your Logo
1. Sketch it
Draw some ideas of what you want your logo to look like. That way you start in black and white so you ensure visibility and clarity. You want your logo to identify your business in the same way when it’s used in color and in black and white.
2. CMYK/RGB Color modes
Remember – CMYK is for print, RGB is for on screen.
If your logo will appear on a business card, letterhead, magazine ad, etc. than it should be created in the CMYK color mode. If it will appear on computer screens and other digital devices, use the RGB color mode. Obviously, you will need both versions.
3. Vector format using Adobe Illustrator
Always create a logo in a vector based program like Adobe Illustrator. This is the only way to get the size flexibility you will need. As small as one inch to as large as a billboard.
You can easily place your logo in the .ai file format right into Photoshop when designing other graphics.
A Final Word of Advice From Paul Rand
When it’s all said and done, you have to realize that no matter how good your logo design may be…it’s not magical.
As talented Paul Rand was, he knew that the logos he created could only be as good as the companies they reflected. He wrote…
“It is foolhardy to believe that a logo will do its job right off, before an audience has been properly conditioned. Only after it becomes familiar does a logo function as intended; and only when the product or service has been judged effective or ineffective, suitable or unsuitable, does it become truly representative.”
Even though your logo plays a crucial part in your business, it won’t do the job all on its own. When people value your products and services, they become a fan, they love you. When they love you, your logo reminds them of the amazing experience they had with your company.
A well-branded company with a well-designed logo is tough to beat. So the best advice for making an amazing logo is to make your business amazing first!
Got any of your own tips for designing logos? Have a question about logo design?
Leave a comment and let us know!