The most identifiable logos in the world all had to start somewhere, and that was with an idea. When designing a logo for a client, there are a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration. As the designer, you will need to have a
- Clear understanding of your client’s business, brand and values. This is the first step in the creative process.
- When designing your logo, there are five integral elements that help to determine its effectiveness. These are memorability, versatility, scalability, timeliness and relevancy. These are expanded further in the following paragraphs.
What’s the point in designing a logo if nobody remembers it? One of the most important aspects of a good design is that it is as memorable as possible. And the trick here is to keep it simple. This is one of the most important aspects of good design. Surprisingly, a simple logo can still adequately reflect the values of your business.
If a person can describe your logo in five words or less, chances are they will remember it. The McDonald’s logo is a great example of an effective, memorable design. How often have you heard the term “golden arches”?
Considering McDonald’s as an example of a good logo, then the below are great examples of bad logos. How many of these logos could you easily remember and describe if you were given only a couple of seconds to look at them? Try it! They are overly complicated and wouldn’t replicate well if scaled or converted to black and white.
Colour isn’t everything. Your logo still needs to work when it is stripped down to its very bones. And that means no colour. It’s crucial that your logo design is effective in form and function no matter how it is colour treated; full colour, grayscale or black and white. One rule to remember is that if your logo works in black and white it will work well in any situation. Some of the world’s most distinguished logos such as Shell, Nike, IBM and Apple look almost as slick in black and white as they do in colour. I design all of my logos in black and white for this reason.
A well-designed logo must re-size with ease, while still maintaining its recognisable form and expressive imagery.
In the interests of scalability, I create all of my logos in Illustrator – a program that renders vector files – these files allow you to scale images infinitely. Remember, you want your logo to look great at any size, from billboards to ink pens!
An effective logo should be timeless. Consider whether your logo will still make a statement in 10, 20 or 50 years’ time.
Design trends come and go – much like the fashion industry. There are popular styles that designers employ to make their work current and modern. Working in such a way is not necessarily a bad thing, however, when your brand identity is concerned, longevity is key.
The Coca Cola logo is a great example of a logo that has stood the test of time – it has barely changed since 1885.
A logo needs to be designed so that it is appropriately aimed at the intended demographic that the client wants to target. If you were to design a logo for a company that aims its products at children you would consider using a childish font and colour scheme. However, employing the same concept wouldn’t be suitable for an architecture firm.
A common misconception is that a logo must be a visual representation of what a business sells, when what it should convey is a company’s brand values. For example; the Dunlop tyres logo does not feature a picture of a tyre or even a car. Instead, they have used iconography that is suggestive of forward motion in conjunction with a masculine typeface. It’s not necessary to incorporate a realistic image of a tyre because the primary objective should be to develop a strong brand presence that is just as recognisable to customers as a picture of a tyre would be.
For more information on logo design, check out the top 50 brands of the world – 94% of the top 50 logos do not explicitly represent what the company does.
Esteemed American graphic designer, Paul Rand, who is best known for his corporate logo designs, including the logos for IBM, UPS, Enron and Westinghouse says "It is only by association with a product, a service, a business, or a corporation that a logo takes on any real meaning. A logo derives its meaning and usefulness from the quality of that which it symbolizes. If a company is second rate, the logo will eventually be perceived as second rate. It is foolhardy to believe that a logo will do its job immediately, before an audience has been properly conditioned."