Designing a Logo that Represents Your Brand
Crafting a powerful logo requires a high dose of creativity mixed with analytical insights into what makes it a perfect match to your company’s ideals. Just as we naturally associate the color red, for example, with danger, fire, love, and food, a corporate logo can become linked to the values and stories you imbue it with.
Here are some tips you should consider when designing a logo for your business.
1. Think Outside the Box
With today’s explosion of startups, independent entrepreneurialism, and niche markets, the amount of logos entering the commercial landscape is unprecedented. The need for your logo to stand out is more important than ever. It requires substantial exploration and iteration to come up with something the world has never seen before.
It’s important for your brand to maintain a consistent aesthetic, but it’s also good to go beyond tradition and explore new design territory. Simple creativity-boosting exercises like random combinations, mindmapping, and brainwriting can take your design efforts into refreshing new directions.
2. Distill the Essence
Anyone can come up with a clever idea and use free design tools to create a simple, professional-looking logo. There are numerous design elements that can be created with little training, from charts and graphs to infographics. But professional logo design is a discipline. To successfully rebrand or start your business with an effective logo, there are things you should consider.
Most importantly, the idea behind the logo has to be in sync with the brand ideals, so it tells the right story. The logo underpins all other marketing expressions. Since it’s the foundation of your brand’s design DNA, selecting the best theme and design elements requires great care.
Ask questions like these:
Does the proposed idea resonate with the target audience?
Does it fit the brand’s history, core values, and roadmap into the future?
Do employees feel the logo accurately represents the business they work for?
Once firmly rooted inside the minds of your customer base, your logo is permanently linked to your brand. So it’s essential to think through the design during the early stages of the brand design process.
3. Forget Minimalism
While it’s true that “less is more,” reducing an idea to its essence isn’t necessarily the same as minimalism. A clean, geometrical style is one of many possible approaches to visual storytelling. It’s more important that the chosen elements coherently fit together in the overall composition.
Barebones simplicity can feel more like a trick from the designer’s sleeve than an informed branding decision. For example, a flat neo-Bauhaus aesthetic may fit design-sensitive audiences and technology-driven industries, but it can miss the mark in terms of brand recognition, expressiveness, and adherence to original brand values.
Examples of this style are Pinterest, Burberry, Pepsi, Starbucks, Uber, Microsoft, and Yahoo. However, Tropicana sales dropped 20% after going for a simplicity-driven redesign of their juice packaging.
The new logo reminded consumers of artificial concentrate-based juice instead of fresh fruit juice. The brand soon reverted to the more zesty original.
Rather than following design trends, stick to your brand’s core concept. Aim for timelessness rather than trendiness.
In this age of digital media, a great logo should work on any scale and across numerous marketing channels. Before giving your new logo the green light, make sure to extensively test concepts at different scales for legibility and expressiveness, and to make sure important details aren’t lost when the logo is scaled down.
Create your logo in black and white first, so you can establish the right proportions. In general, strive for the golden ratio.
Sans serif fonts work better at smaller scales. Wide logos tend to cause problems on web banners and letterheads, and so does vertically oriented text. Thin lettering may look ultra-crisp on a 4k monitor, but on a smartphone it may be a vague and illegible arrangement of pixels.
Your logo has to be flexible enough to be used on different platforms. For example, if your company branches into new locations or niche markets, you might want to create tailored versions with subtle element variations and customizable color palettes.
This is why many brands opt for a combination logo that includes both text and a memorable symbol. For roadside billboards, the fashion industry, objects of use, and television ads, an icon is often more powerful. But in media that allow for a longer attention span, the “wordmark” or logotype enters the picture. Famous examples include Ferrari, Nike, Chanel, Michelin, Lacoste, McDonalds, and Puma.
If you plan to embed the logo in animated video, make sure the design can come alive in a flashy and attention-grabbing way. Brainstorm about all possible uses to help future-proof the design. This helps prevent you from having to change it later, like Apple Computers did when it introduced the iPod and iPhone and changed its company name to Apple Inc.
6. Be Clever
A good logo designer never settles for mediocrity. They strive to create a simple yet emotive design that fits the brand.
To make your logo more witty and memorable, it can include a surprise factor like a touch of humor, optical illusion, ambiguity, or hidden element in a negative space.
This can’t be just a nifty addition — it has to integrate with the brand message. For example, the arrow hidden in the FedEx logo represents movement, transportation, and the “this side up” arrow on boxes.
7. The Perils of Association
In the history of logo design, there have been oddities that completely miss the mark and evoke the wrong associations — or unintentionally cause people to laugh. Signs, symbols, words, phrases, and colors trigger different associations in different groups of people, so it’s good to research this beforehand.
The best logos emerge from an abstract idea that stems from an overall feeling or brand value. This is a more intelligent approach than going literal (Penguin Books, Red Bull, Dodge RAM, NBA, Wella, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Camel) or metaphorical (Windows, Lufthansa, Kappa, Hell’s Kitchen, Amnesty International, Goodyear).
For example, McAfee exchanged its straightforward shield design for a more abstract sign that evokes feelings around the theme of protection, like power, interconnectedness, a band of trust, and information. It also includes the shape of the capital M.
Another example is petroleum stalwart BP, which has dropped its shield for an abstract sunflower-like sign to represent a new outlook on energy for the new century.
8. Hire a Professional
A great logo is simple yet clever and expressive while fitting the culture of the industry and the target audience. The design task is much deeper and multifaceted than it initially may seem, so it’s essential to hire a professional graphic designer and enlist a digital marketing company to craft the design to perfection and get your brand on the right track.
Because a logo lays the groundwork for the rest of the brand, it’s hard to put a price tag on the work. While the Nike logo was famously bought for a whopping $35, brand reformations like those for BP and Accenture can cost over $100 million. There surely is middle ground here, but generally the level of investment in the logo can be seen in the finished product. Your logo will represent your company for years, so a top-quality logo design is essential.
- Ellie Shippey, Content Manager at EBS Agency has several years experience writing and creating online content. She loves hanging out with friends and family, being outdoors, and eating great local foods.