Before I even start I can’t stress enough how many people don’t know the difference between a logomark and logotype. A logomark is a mark or symbol that represents your client, may it be a person, company, group, business, industry, band, whatever. A logotype is a symbol that primarily uses typography to represent your client and usually focuses on the name. That ‘s a very simplified explanation really.
Most good logos have a couple of things in common. They are simple, memorable, enduring and versatile. But what does that mean?
Keep it simple:
Keep it focused and convey only what you want to. Don’t overcomplicate your logo design, as unnecessary elements will only steer away the focus of what’s important. If you can’t find any clear reason why to incorporate an element in your design, it’s best to leave it out all together.
It should be clear about the company it represents. It should make a statement and encourage a potential customer to think about the company the next time they need services. Also when a logomark becomes memorable enough it can become independent of the company name that accompanies it. A good example of that is the Nike swoosh.
This is one that a lot of logos miss. A logo should follow trends but at the same time is has to be timeless. If a logo works today it doesn’t mean that it’ll work 10 years from now. So try to think ahead. On the other hand trends and styles can’t really be predicted that far ahead so don’t hesitate to update your design if the need arises, just don’t do it too often or too soon if your logo is an established brand already.
A logo is something that’ll be used on all sorts of media. Not just printed but digital as well. You need to make your logo work in all media of intended use. Size also matters. You can downsize a logo only to a certain point when it becomes unintelligible. It’s important to consult with the client about the size and scaling. If you design a color logo you need to make sure that you can also use it in black and white or using grey-scale.
Ok… So what’s the process of making a good logo? I go about this in 3 main steps. Other people that work in corporations will probably use more but as is I’m freelancer so I go about it as I want.
First I brief the client and ask what their company is all about. What it represents and stands for. What is their target market and demographic? Then I go and do research on the company I’m designing a logo for and the competition to get a feel what the market is like and what trends are being used and set. WARNING! Be careful when monitoring trends. It’s easy to make a logo that is trendy but not enduring. If I’m redesigning an already existing logo I check out all the past logos. Research why they didn’t work to represent the company and what they are missing. Then I start to sketch on paper (computer work comes later). I sketch multiple ideas and select the ones I think are best to pitch to the client. I never throw away my unused sketches since what doesn’t work for this client may well work for someone else with a little tweaking. After the client decides on a direction I start making more detailed sketches and designs (still on paper). When I’m satisfied with what I’ve got I start compiling the logo in vector software.
There are a few things you should consider when designing a logo.
If you are making a logo for a computer company the logo doesn’t have to be a computer. Just because the company has “global” in the name there’s not need for a globe in the logo. Be unique and original and stray away from the most obvious solutions.
When checking out other logos it’s easy to get hooked and imitate something you like. Don’t do that. It’s unprofessional and will only discredit you as a designer.
Always do the final design in vector software. A logo has to be scaled for different uses and making it in vector based software makes that easy and fast. Photoshop isn’t the best platform for making logos. Stick with Illustrator, Corel Draw, etc.
When it comes to typography you have two choices. Either make your own or use already existing fonts. Clients usually like in house fonts because that makes their logo unique but that also ups the price. If you are making a logotype a custom font is mandatory. When using already existing fonts choose clear and readable fonts. Fancy curvy fonts usually don’t work too well in logos if they are not executed with a purpose (Coca-Cola is an obvious example of good execution). If you use a font just because it looks pretty you’re doing something wrong. Also don’t get carried away and use a ton of fonts, that just looks messy. I usually use just one font for a logo but if I have to use more I never use more then two or three. And for the love of God NEVER use comic sans unless it’s suppose to be ironic :P.
Color and tones:
Color expresses mood and emotion. Different colors evoke different responses and you should choose your colors according to what you want them to express. For instance red color expresses strength, power, energy, etc. so I’ll use it in a logo that needs to express that. You can read more about color psychology here. Don’t go overboard with the colors. Next to black and white I usually use two at most (sometimes three). You’ll guess that I’m not a big fan of the Google logo.
Don’t go to abstract. A logo needs to be clear and convey its message on first glance. It’s also a bad idea to go overboard on special effects in the software. Keep it clean and simple. Also stay clear of stock images and clip art. That only makes your logo look generic and doesn’t represent you, but you and all the other fools that used the same stock image or clipart.
Lastly you were chosen to design the logo for a reason. Your client is not a designer. He may think he knows better but usually he really doesn’t. If he did he would design the logo himself. Stay firm in your decision but don’t be insulting about it. There’s nothing wrong with listening to advice or wishes but if you think that works against what the logo should stand for you need to make it clear that the client hired you for a reason and present your arguments why his way won’t work.