All designers should know the main principals of a good logo. Because there are actually only a few of them – like simplicity, usability, readability. Most of the famous brands follow these rules. And their logos work pretty damn well! We remember them, we want to wear them. Some even tattoo them on their body, like fans of Harley Davidson. So, why do we forget how a good logo looks like when we start making decisions for our own brand?
I’ve worked on many different projects, took part in endless discussions and tried to explain why the way we usually think is wrong. But very often it feels like arguments don’t work at all. We seem to make the same mistakes all over again.
What mistakes? And how to avoid them? If you think about getting a logo for your business, read this article before talking with the designer and avoid going in the wrong direction.
Blindly following the trends
Every year we are introduced to new trends in graphic design which are always results on what was going on in the creative world in previous years. The transition is usually smooth and hard to spot but we can clearly see some popular directions. We all remember flat design, vintage badges, hipster black and white triangles and squares, handwritten and watercolour typography.
There are a few reasons why following these trends might not be the best idea. If you want to build a strong brand and you wish your business survive for decades, your logo should be timeless. Put it in a wider perspective and imagine where the world will be in 10,20,30 years. Will your logo be still relevant?
‘He loves me, he loves me not’ of the design world
They say that a person changes every 7 years. Every 7 years we are totally different selves. It’s fascinating. That means our body changes, our expectations and values evolve, we have different goals, plans and preferences.
Have you ever changed your mind about something that you previously really liked but now it seems dull and boring? Maybe it was a shirt you bought years ago, maybe the food you tried during the holidays.
When you make decisions based on your personal preferences you risk that after a while you change your mind. Choosing a logo should be based on business strategy less on your own taste. You need to remember that it has to tell a story. Not necessarily look good in your own eyes. It should help to build your identity, reflect your mission and bring out the essence of your business. The fact you prefer yellow over blue doesn’t really matter.
A logo is not a love from the first sight
~Sagig Haviv (watch a video)
Stand out or blend in
It’s not an easy task to create a simple logo which is not generic. Your brand mark should stand out – that’s for sure, but can’t be too complicated. People have to be able to describe it after having just a brief look, but at the same time, it should be original enough to make you stand out.
It’s tricky in the world where everything has been told already. We use shapes, typography and colours to create a new value, to describe your brand in the simplest possible way.
Showing it all
Around two years ago when I started working full time as a freelancer I got a logo project that looked very interesting. My client’s company was selling t-shirts to fight for underprivileged families in the States.
The client seemed to have a clear vision of how the logo should look like, so I followed the guidelines. After some time I came back to him with, what I thought, was a good, stylish mark. The logo showed a family standing together in the proud posture, exactly how he wanted. But eventually, he didn’t like it. The mark was already pretty complicated, but I thought I still can work it out. But after few rounds of revisions, the client was asking to add even more details (like a specific type of a shirt, hairstyle, shape of eyes) that just couldn’t work in this situation. The whole thing was just too complex. He decided to finish our collaboration and, to be honest, I felt relieved. He thought that I can’t handle the project, while from my perspective he asked me for something that felt wrong.
I often see that clients want to show everything in their logo – all components of their company – adding more and more elements, more and more colours. And I also see how they struggle to re-use it in the future.
A logo is not communication it’s identification
A logo should show the essence, the character, the feeling. It is not there to illustrate your service or what you do in details. It should give your audience an idea, but not explain it all.
Now you can look at the projects provided by your designer from a totally different perspective. I hope you will think twice before you ask to add more details to your logo or want to change the colour from red to green only because it’s your mum favourite colour. Try to put your personal preferences on the side and look at your corporate identity differently. Bear in mind your audience and your future goals. Don’t allow these mistakes in your business.