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How to be a Successful Logo Designer. The Do’s and Don’t’s

  • Logos must express a business’s key messages and the experience that consumers should expect. This attracts new customers and builds trust in the brand.
  • The best logos are simple, relevant, balanced, and memorable.
  • Logos should be easily scaled up or down, with complementary design elements rather than tacked-on text or cluttered details.

Of all the various graphic designs in the world, logos are the hardest-working — and the hardest to create. They must instantly communicate a brand’s values, offerings, and core message, while being memorable and versatile. A good logo is so powerful that it can be recognized even out of context; a bad logo can be the downfall of a brand.

If you’re interested in creating logos, you must understand the core principles behind logo design. A logo is much more than a picture with some text on it. And as experienced designers everywhere know, the best logos are unique, attractive, and not designed in Microsoft Word. Let’s look at the do’s and don’ts every logo designer should follow.

Don’t: Make It Complicated

While complex illustrations and detailed emblems may look nice, they don’t make good logos for one key reason: they’re too busy. Logos need to be instantly understood and recognized. The more information that’s crammed into a single image, the more the human brain has to work to interpret it.

The key to a powerful brand is to instill trust and familiarity in your audience. If you’re making them jump through hoops to figure out your logo, you’re not getting your message through to them.

Do: Keep It Simple

Instead, opt for simple designs and clear, legible text. Skip the fine lines and intricate details, and choose dynamic, clean shapes. Every logo needs to look good on a variety of materials, both print and digital. Think about recognizable shapes (like the Twitter bird) or interested typographic combinations (like the Volkswagen logo) that will communicate a message without the extra clutter. The simpler the logo, the more memorable it will be (like the Nike swoosh).

Don’t: Cram in Text

Many famous and successful logos incorporate typography, such as those of AT&T and Samsung. Compare those to the logos you’ve seen that force a large block of text in next to the image. Without the text, is the image recognizable? Can the full logo be cleanly printed on different materials? If not, it’s too cluttered. It also may be a sign that the image and text are not playing together.

Do: Pair Your Text and Imagery

The Amazon logo used to be horrible: a messy combination of text and a weird river graphic. Over the years, this mega-brand has refined its logo. Now, the distinctive “smiling arrow” that appears under the word “Amazon” is recognizable on its own.

That’s because the full logo did an excellent job of blending typography and shapes. The smooth, playful font of “Amazon” complemented the gentle curve of the arrow, and vice versa. Because the two elements worked so well together, we now see the arrow by itself and immediately think “Amazon.” When designing your logo, ensure that you choose complementary typefaces and imagery.

Don’t: Forget Your Target Audience

Ever seen a local plumbing business’ logo using the Disney font? Or a daycare center’s logo with a tall, elegant serif typeface? Even if these logos were technically well-designed, they probably didn’t help those businesses establish their brands. In fact, they may have harmed them.

Avoid choosing typefaces, colors, and graphic elements that don’t match your business’s target market. Consumers will be skeptical rather than intrigued, or they may just be too confused to take action. That’s definitely not the effect you want to have.

Do: Let Your Logo Communicate

Good logos resonate with the brand’s target audience. They represent the experience and value that people can expect to have with the associated business. That’s why it’s important to leverage color psychology, dynamism, and traditional design elements to achieve the desired impact.

For example, if you are designing a logo for a café in an affluent area, you’ll probably want to incorporate (a) typical café imagery such as a mug, (b) an elegant typeface to appeal to a refined taste, and (c) colors that evoke the café experience (the browns of coffee and tee, the golds of pastries and sandwiches). This logo makes much more sense for the target audience than, say, a vivid red abstract shape with a whimsical font.

Wrapping Up

To succeed at logo design, you must have a good sense of the emotions, memories, and values that different elements evoke. All the parts of a logo work together to make an impact on the viewer: the typeface, images, colors, even the spatial positioning and (a)symmetry.

If any one part is out of tune with the others, the logo may seem disjointed or confusing. Moreover, the logo must connect the business to its target customers. That means it must effectively harness the aesthetic that appeals to those people.

The best logos capture a brand’s message and deliver it as a beautiful package of complementary elements. Follow the do’s and don’t’s above, and you’ll create stunning logos that turn fledgling businesses into memorable brands.

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