A logo has a very big, very important job when it comes to representing your business. It is responsible for effectively communicating your business’s message, values, goals, and personality all in one tiny wordmark. A successful logo creates brand recognition and establishes a sense of trust with its audience. An unsuccessful logo can leave consumers confused, put off, or unable to remember your business at all.
Your logo is an ‘image that is worth more than a thousand words’, and creating it can often be an exciting yet somewhat daunting process – the “who what where when why and how’s” can creep in and leave you second guessing your decisions.
There are a few things you can take into consideration when going through the branding process that will give you a bit more confidence in your decisions, and put you on track to a successful brand.
Tip #0. Your brand is more than a logo
Before I start with the tips, I should point out that your brand is more than a logo. A business can have the most beautiful logo in the world and still have an unsuccessful brand. If your brand were a book, the logo would be the front cover; perhaps it is what drew you to pick it up in the first place, and it’s how you recognize it when you walk by the bookshelf. However the book is more than just it’s cover; the inner pages contain a rich and layered story with carefully crafted characters, events and themes that hope to capture your interest and create an emotional connection. A good book cover will attract the eye of the reader and set the tone for what is inside. A bad book cover misleads the reader – whether it be through misrepresenting the inner content, or failing to attract the reader’s eye in the first place.
If your logo is the book cover, your brand would be the inner pages. It’s your message, your story, the setting you create and they way you interact with your audience. It’s the customer service and the tone of voice you set in your content and promotional materials.
Before you begin the design of your logo, you need to get very clear about your brand. Whether you decide to pull in a brand strategist or go it alone, the first step to creating a logo is defining the inner workings of your brand. Start writing the content of the book, so you can create a cover that makes sense.
Okay, now for the real tips!
Tip #1. Simplicity
Once you have gotten very clear on your overall brand, it’s time to move into design. My first tip is to keep it simple. Think of some of the most recognizable brands – Nike, Apple, McDonald’s etc. The logos of these brands are strikingly simple. Instagram can be described as a rounded square and two circles on a coloured background. Mastercard is an orange circle and a red circle. Keeping your logo simple creates a sense of ease and transparency. The viewer doesn’t have to work to figure out what they are looking at, because they can immediate process the shapes, letters and colours to understand what is going on.
In short: don’t make the viewer work to understand what they are looking at.
Tip #2. Be Truly Unique, Not Just ‘Pretty’
In the age of platforms like Pinterest there are endless sources of inspiration and imagery when it comes to logo design. While these sites can be a great way to see what is out there and create a mood board, there is a downfall; thousands of slightly different versions of the same design or concept.
It’s easy to look at what other people are are doing and get caught up in thinking that you need to follow suit. Your logo doesn’t need to (and shouldn’t) look like it belongs in a lineup of other logos within your industry. If you are using a mood board or inspiration board, try to look beyond the overall aesthetic and focus on why you like specific elements. For example, if you like the colour scheme, why do you like it? What tone do the colours set? How does that speak to your business? Breaking inspiration down into a series of logical questions will allow you to move beyond the mood board.
In short: A mood board is great, but curating a collection of images and styles that already exist can make it harder to create something unique.
Tip #3. Your Logo Should Look Good Everywhere.
One of the most common things that can get overlooked is assessing how your logo looks in the wild, not just how it looks on a piece of plain white paper (or PDF). Your audience won’t be looking at your logo on a white page – they will see it on social media, advertisements, product packaging, or even in a lineup against your competition.
A rule of thumb is to test how legible your logo is at 1 inch in width when printed out, and 100px by 100px on a screen (can be icon only). This will help you get a sense of what the logo will look like across a variety of platforms.
In short: Your logo will be seen across a variety of platforms, make sure it reads well at all sizes.
Tip #4. Your Logo is Not For You.
This might sound harsh, but your logo isn’t for you. It’s for your customers. This seems obvious, but it can be a tricky thing to overcome. If you’ve hired a designer or brand strategist, they should offer some guidance in this area based on their research and objective approach to the project. Your logo should appeal to the market you are trying to serve.
One way to be objective when designing and deciding on your logo is to consult a small focus group made of your target demographic. Ask questions that help uncover why they like a specific design, and what words do they think of when they see it. If the perceptions match up with your brand strategy you are on the right track!
In short: Think of what your customer would say about your logo.
Tip #5. Consistency is Key
This tip applies to your brand as a whole. Consistency can be created through shared visual elements that establish a baseline of what your audience can expect to see from you. This means whether it’s a poster, business card, social media posting or a physical product, your audience should be able to tell that it’s your brand.
This can be achieved through colour schemes, typography, imagery, or common design elements. Perhaps all of your advertisements use the same photography style, or follow a similar hierarchy, or use the same font. Establishing a common thread among all of your collateral helps to create a sense of trust and familiarity with your audience.
In short: Work to establish an overall aesthetic that carries through all of your collateral.
There you have it! If you keep these things in mind you will be on the right track. Happy branding!
Vanessa is a Vancouver based designer and developer who works with small businesses across North America to ensure their brands are communicated effectively and consistently. If she’s not at her desk you can likely find her at a yoga class or in the mountains. Follow her on Instagram at @vanessarusucreative, or check out her work at vanessarusu.com