Logos are one of the trickiest projects to get right. They have to be memorable, original, and able to convey a lot of information in one small graphic. A good logo can set you apart from the competition, make a great first impression with customers, and single-handedly convey who you are and what you do.
That means every choice you make during the logo design process—from colors to typography—can directly impact how your customers feel about you as a brand. (No pressure.)
Previously we covered some major logo mistakes to avoid. Here we’ll dig into a few logo design and execution tips to consider as you embark on your logo project.
1. Make your logo easy to resize
This is an important logo tip for clients and designers alike. For clients, you should keep a “less is more” mentality as you review drafts. Before you get your heart set on an intricate design, make sure it looks as good shrunk down as it does blown up on a high-resolution screen.
For designers, be careful about how much detail you include. It’s helpful to scale a logo up and down to make sure it’s clear and distinct regardless of its size. A logo should be scalable, versatile, and easy to discern from far away.
2. CREATE ALTERNATE, SIMPLIFIED LOGO VERSIONS FOR RESPONSIVE BROWSING
If resizing your logo isn’t an option, have your designer create alternate, simplified versions. These might be text-only or icon-only logos (glyphs), similar to the design progression of logos in the example below. This way, when a user is browsing on a responsive site and shrinks the window down, your logo automatically converts to its simplified version at certain breakpoints.
You might also create design elements derived from your logo that can be used on their own to indicate menus, navigation, or buttons for a cohesive experience similar to Google’s, below.
[Image via Google.]
Also, consider how your logo will look in various applications. Chances are as you review versions you’ll be seeing a standalone logo file. It’s important to see how the logo plays in different scenarios: print, mobile, business cards, and website headers. A narrow vertical logo might look great left-aligned on a business card, but when it comes time to flow your new logo into your website, that vertical design might limit what you’re able to do with your layout.
3. Create vector-based logo graphics—not raster files.
If you’re not creating responsive logo versions, you want your logo to maintain the same clarity and quality when it is sized up and down. Vector drawings are made up of lines and shapes that mathematically scale, which makes them much more scalable and resolution-independent than a pixel-based raster file that can get blurry or distorted.
Now, let’s look at some more-creative-minded tips.
4. Let your typeface do (at least half of) the heavy lifting
Imagine some of the world’s most popular logo designs, then substitute their custom font for Times New Roman or, even worse, Comic Sans. A designer can put a lot of effort into a beautiful, custom-illustrated logo and quickly take that design down a notch with a poor choice of typeface. Typeface and graphics are equally important to a logo; avoid taking shortcuts and diminishing your hard work.
A custom font can be a lot of work, but it will make your logo unique (and difficult to plagiarize). If you’re designing a text-only logo, have a little fun with letters—there are lots of ways to get creative with white space, including hiding messaging and symbols within it. Just be sure that your custom typeface is still legible when it’s small.
5. Stay focused on who you are and what you do
With all the trends in logo design, it’s easy to get caught up in what looks cool and lose sight of your logo’s core intent. For example, a pharmaceutical company’s logo is going to have a very different goal than a couture fashion logo. If you’ve given your designer plenty of context and a thorough brief, he or she should be able to choose the font and style that suit your brand.
Don’t sacrifice the opportunity to tell a customer exactly what you’re about at a glance for a trend or an out-of-character font. Focusing on the “why” of a logo design is the most effective way to ensure it’s doing its job.
6. Be clever!
Logos that make someone do a double take can be very memorable—and that’s what you want from a logo. Try a visual double entendre that uses an icon or graphic in addition to your name to create a play on words. Or add visual elements to text-only logos that make them pop, similar to Mozilla’s logo, in which a colon and a double backslash replace the ill:
Clever details can be as simple as the page fold in the elephant’s ear of the Evernote logo, which blends the “memory” aspect of an elephant with the paper of a “note.”
[Evernote logo via.]
7. Use negative space to your advantage
If you’ve dissected the famous FedEx logo before, you’ve probably noticed an arrow formed in the white space between the E and the x. That subtle arrow gives motion and momentum to the logo, which aligns with the company’s mission to be a fast, reliable shipping service.
[FedEx logo via.]
8. If you’ve seen a logo trend done a few times, it’s probably past its prime
Fads come and go, but if you’ve seen one style of logo repeated over and over—like the “hipster cross” logo—steer clear. Customers are savvy and will likely notice a design they think is played out or ripped off. Of course it can be impossible to reinvent the wheel in some respects, and there’s always a chance your logo will be similar to someone else’s, but avoiding a logo trend that’s made the rounds can prevent a redesign a few years down the road.
9. Use color and gradients to give letters and illustrations more depth and meaning
Colors can have a lot of impact on how people perceive and react to your logo. There’s a whole psychology to colors and the way they make us feel.
Artistically speaking, playing around with colors can transform simple shapes and designs into more-complex visuals. If you do use colors to elevate your logo, make sure the design holds up when the logo is converted to gray scale.
10. Make subtle updates over time to keep your logo fresh
Keep an eye on how your logo is aging. You can make subtle tweaks and updates without changing your logo’s core design—much like how Twitter updated its bluebird logo with a more mature design after six years. You might not be able to fully drop your name from your logo as Twitter did, but updating the typeface or changing elements of your icon can signify growth and change.