The Do's and Don'ts of Logo Design

Logo design is more than merely coming up with something that looks pretty; there are many things that have to be considered and implemented in order for a logo to make sense, catch the attention of an ideal audience, and set it apart. Today's post is for designers and non-designers alike. It's for all of you who own a business, maintain a blog, or are working on a personal brand. And it's for anyone who's curious about why their favorite logos make sense. 

The Do's and Don'ts of Logo Design - Elle & Company

Let's start with the don'ts so we can end on a positive note.

DON'T

Add too much detail
Strong logos aren't complicated; they focus on one key feature. The more you add onto the design of your logo, the higher the chance is that it will be confusing for your audience.

Follow trends
If you want to create a logo that blends in with everyone else's and will become outdated in a year or so, follow the trends. 

Switch it up every other year
Weak brands aren't consistent; they flip flop from one logo design to the next and don't allow time to create recognition with their audience.

Imitate
Not only is this plagiarism, but it can be detrimental to your brand. One of the largest benefits of branding is the ability to set yourself, your business, or your blog apart from everything else that's already out there. By imitating someone else's logo, you're stealing their creativity and robbing yourself of yours.

Be too literal
An original, creative logo isn't necessarily the one that's the most expected. For example, it isn't necessary to use imagery of a place setting if you're a restaurant or a basketball if you're an NBA team. 

Go crazy with the number of fonts
A good rule of thumb is to keep the fonts to two. The use of several fonts has the potential to result in a logo that isn't cohesive.


DO

Define and research your audience
The purpose of a logo (and furthermore, a brand) is to attract your ideal audience; your logo should be appealing to them. You might love certain colors and fonts, but if they don't catch the attention of your customers, clients, or readers, you've missed the boat. Spend some time defining your audience and do some research into their interests and tastes to create a logo that will appeal to them.

Strive for something different
You have a great opportunity to set your business/brand/self apart by creating a one-of-a-kind logo. It's easy to be inspired by what's already been done before, but strive for a logo that's different and distinct.

The Great Catering Company has a distinct, memorable brand with their colorful splashes of color. They didn't rely on what had already been done before, and it results in a one-of-a-kind brand.

The Great Catering Company has a distinct, memorable brand with their colorful splashes of color. They didn't rely on what had already been done before, and it results in a one-of-a-kind brand.

Sketch
The exploration phase is an important part of any creative process. Remove any hesitations and don't worry about finding the perfect solution right out of the gate; just sketch. Experiment with different ideas and have fun with it. Fill up a couple pages with your ideas, and don't erase or get rid of anything; you never know what you'll end up coming back to.

Keep it simple
Efforts to create something original and creative can often result in making things more complicated than they need to be. The best logos are simple. This doesn't mean that the designers behind them sacrificed creativity, but they didn't add a million bells and whistles, either. A common design rule of thumb is to highlight one feature in a logo. Just one. Keep it simple.

This logo for the Guild of Food Writers is so simple but so clever. 

This logo for the Guild of Food Writers is so simple but so clever. 

Pay attention to spacing, composition, and negative space
Some of the best logos out there just seem to "fit" because the designer has paid attention to the entire space, not just the images and text. Consider ways to use spacing, composition, and negative space to your advantage. Use a grid to make sure that the spacing is consistent and subject matter is proportional. 

The sketches are a great example of using composition and spacing effectively in the design of a logo.

The sketches are a great example of using composition and spacing effectively in the design of a logo.

Be mindful of size and legibility
A logo should be legible and decipherable at all sizes; it should maintain detail whether it's large or small. If your logo isn't easily recognized or legible at small sizes, you may need to come up with a different solution.

Choose fonts wisely
Each font has a distinct character. Some are strong, bold, and solid while others are whimsical and imperfect. The fonts you choose for your logo can play a large part in how your brand is received by your audience; first impressions are crucial.

I love the character of the type in this logo. It fits the silly, awkward name of the restaurant perfectly! (And those utensils with the goose feet make me smile every time. So clever!)

I love the character of the type in this logo. It fits the silly, awkward name of the restaurant perfectly! (And those utensils with the goose feet make me smile every time. So clever!)

Adapt a typeface
There's a difference in a font and a logo. Instead of using a generic font for your logo that anyone could recreate, alter and adapt the typeface in some way; give it some character.

Study color psychology
Just like each font has a distinct character, different colors evoke different emotions, feelings, and memories in people. Designers tap into that when they're choosing colors for a project. Spend some time studying color associations as you consider which colors you'll use in your logo.

Create variations and alternate logos
It's helpful to have variety and versatility when you're creating a logo for a business or blog. The logo will most likely be used in a number of different places, whether it's in the header of a website or the back of a business card. Create a couple compositional variations of your logo. Consider what your logo will look like on colored backgrounds or on top of photos, and account for that by creating different color variations. Be sure to maintain the same consistency and proportions throughout all variations.

Get feedback from others
It can be easy to get tunnel vision when you've been pouring time and effort into a logo concept. Take a step back and ask for feedback from trustworthy friends and family. They may see something in the negative space that you hadn't picked up on before, or they may see a word within your logo that you hadn't noticed before (anyone else have a problem with the Jeni's ice cream logo, or is it just me?). Whatever the case, it's always good to get a second and third opinion.


Do you have some logo design do's and don'ts that aren't on my list? Is there something on this list that you hadn't considered before?