Refreshed, revised, or a new from scratch, at some point every business wants a logo. However, most small businesses seem to settle for poor, or ill-conceived marks that do not properly represent their brand.
Simple, memorable, versatile, appropriate and timeless are the five keys to effective logo design. As a business’s logo is the key to its identity, it’s important to get it right. So let’s get started.
Getting simple right is hard. Darned hard!
A simple logo can be easily described, tends to be memorable and works as well on a zipper slider as a billboard. Perhaps more importantly, a simple logo is memorable. In fact, if you nail simple, you’ve pretty much encompassed the other four aspects of logo design.
Let’s consider the power of simple logo design for a moment. What image does “golden arches” invoke? “Swoosh?” An apple with a bite taken out of it?
Imagine a world where everyone wore plain black tees, black jeans, canvas sneakers and was named Joe. How would people remember each other? How would potential mates catch each other’s eye?
When you choose clip art, Microsoft Word Art, Arial, Times or Verdana for a logo, you’re rendering a forgettable identity. Using uninspired graphical elements and system fonts is banal design and will anonymize your client’s identity. Beautiful and versatile fonts such as Myriad Pro and Helvetica Neue are also poor logo typefaces – even though they’re effective and eye catching – because they’re everywhere.
A versatile logo works on something as small as a zipper slider and as large as a billboard without a redesign. When developing a logo, keep it greyscale. You can always add color later. In Logo Design Love, David Airey states designing and presenting a logo concept in greyscale encourages the client to see the form and idea behind the mark, rather than being distracted by its colors.
Vector graphics are resolution independent, so they’re infinitely scalable. The logo should look the same on
- screened or embroidered onto shirts;
- painted on the side of a rail cars or semi trailers;
- appear in television ads, motion graphics, or websites;
- print products, such as letterhead.
Also, ensuring your design works well wherever its needed saves your client money. Most clients are thrilled to save money. As designers, we’re happy when our clients are happy.
An appropriate logo provides valuable clues as to what the company’s about. How would you feel about McDonalds if its logo was grey and Garamond? What message would you get from a funeral home with yellow and red logo?
Timeless logos defy trends. They don’t use flavor-of-the-day typefaces, colors, or design elements. For example, ITC Pioneer, Caslon and Benguiat scream 1970s.
Logos that follow trends tend to look dated quickly. They may also give the impression the company is out of synch with the times, or has folded.
Coke’s logo is a great example of timeless design. In 125 years it’s been tweaked about seven times. (Read a brief history of Coke’s logo.)
The five keys to effective logo design are simple, memorable, unique, appropriate and timeless. You’ll notice that each of the logos shown here can successfully illustrate any of the five keys. When you’re creating identity pieces for clients, let them know how important a proper logo will benefit them over time. A solid logo will help establish the client’s identity. Combining it with good customer service will help the company build a brand.