14 tips to design a successful logo
Think about when you meet someone new for the first time. In the first few seconds, your brain will make some associations whether good or bad. You could compare that person to someone you already know, by the way, they dress, they speak and their behavior.
However, if you were only to see them (putting aside the tone of voice and body language) - you would probably come to many conclusions based on their visual appearance. And this is the same way we naturally come to some conclusions by seeing a company's logo for the first time.
After all, you have only one chance to make the first impression. So why not making it the best possible? - That's why I prepared the list of 14 best logo design tips from identity experts.
1. Tell the story
Before you even start your logo design process, you must have your brand strategy in place. Think about what you have to offer and to whom. Conduct competitive research. Create your buyer persona. That way you will have a set of rules to judge your logo against. After all, logo is about what works, so it's crucial to focus on your target audience and design for them.
2. Keep it simple
A company's logo to be instantly recognizable, easily interpretable, and timeless. And it all comes down to keeping it simple. Overly complex logos often fail to achieve other goals.
3. Make it unique
A single unique element can make an image just burn into people's mind. Think about Nike logo and it's dynamic brandmark. There's no other logo that seems to be even close to that. Nike logo is very unique, it's not like Adidas nor like any other athletic brand.
4. Speak to your audience
When it comes to logo design, any personal preferences will not prevail. Focus on your audience instead and ditch your possible responses to a piece of design that sounds like “I don't like blue” or “I like squares more”. Remember: the logo of your company is not about you. you must appeal to your target audience.
5. Logo must be timeless
Design trends come and go, but a great logo will stand the test of time. Think about logo like IBM, Chase Bank or Coca-Cola. Their logos basically remained the same for decades. You should avoid incorporating design trends that change rapidly - you can do so in your advertising campaigns, but never in logo design.
6. Use appropriate typeface
Select an appropriate typeface and aim for legibility. The font you select must project the desired perception about your company. Think about Gucci - they use a classic and elegant serif typeface with increased letterspacing for the luxurious look & feel.
7. Use negative space
Sometimes there's an option to create an additional symbol within the negative space of a particular wordmark or brandmark. If you can do so - that's an excellent way to express your brand attributes without trying to hard to impress. After all, the FedEx logo is just the company's name set in a bold typeface - but the hidden arrow makes it look unique.
8. Employ movement
Selectively use italic font, angle cuts or other graphic treatments to embody some movement into your logo. One of the logo design rules is that it needs to work as a small static image, but it doesn't mean that you can't add dynamism to it if it's appropriate for your brand. Just have a look at a great example - Gillette logo.
9. Use color scheme
Your logo needs to work in black and white, of course. But apart from that, you can decide on using a specific color palette to complement the mark and add some character to it. The Google logo is just a very straightforward wordmark, but what's special about it is the color palette.
10. Use recognizable symbol
Just as Amazon did with its smiley logo - you should look for widely recognizable symbols and use them if possible. It's not about using coffee cap shape in a logo for a coffee brand, or a box shape in a logo for a logistics company. Is more about your brand story and finding a recognizable symbol that will allow you to tell that story the world.
11. Utilize basic shapes
Round shapes such as circles project positive emotional responses. Square shapes project feelings of stability and balance. There is a reason why banks like Td Bank, Deutsche Bank, and Chase Bank, to name a few, use square-based logos. And on the other hand, you have logos like Starbucks with a circular form and feminine curves - that attracts both men and women.
12. Make it proportionate
The logo you designed needs to work across different media. Therefore, you need your logo to fit e.g. within a small circle to be used on social media and as well in large format e.g. on a billboard. Think about different lockups, horizontal, vertical and test your logo in small and large sizes to opt for the best proportions.
13. Aim for instant recognition
What's the single most recognizable part of your identity system? If you think e.g. about McDonald's it's not actually the bold wordmark set in Helvetica font - but rather it's symbol - an immediately recognizable yellow M. The symbol works as a shortcut to tie together all different applications - so when you see that “M” from far on the highway - you instantly know it's McDonald's.
14. Aim for memorability
We live in an oversaturated world. Thousands of brand fight for our attention on a daily basis. Think about all this visual clutter - you need a single visual treatment that will set you apart. Something that will make people stop and think, look at this again and create meaningful associations from him first encounter - a perfect example - bite out of Apple logo.
My goal was to give you a quick overview of what you should focus on when judging your logo design concepts.
I've done so by examining some of the famous brands you know. These brands became successful for a reason. They also spent lots of money on research and development so you can learn from them and leverage this for your logo design efforts.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.