In our last post, 3 Steps to Build a Strong Brand, we showed you that business branding is much more than just a visual object. However it doesn’t mean that your logo should be ignored or even placed in second plan.
In fact, the easiest way to recognize a company and distinguish it from others is by its logo.
Your logo is a crucial part of your business. It’s responsible for brand recognition, helping to communicate your unique message to the world, and essential for brand distinction, ensuring you stand out from the crowd.
Remember: If your logo is weak, you will have to work extra hard to get your brand in people’s mind.
If you already have a small business, startup or a large corporation, chances are you already have a logo. If you are just thinking about starting your own business, then you probably have some great ideas in mind. Either way, it’s worth checking your existing or future logo/image/icon to ensure it’s as effective as you believe it is.
Here are some essential elements that a good logo must have:
1. Is your logo simple?
Do you remember that old saying “Less is more”? Nothing could be more true to your company’s logo than that! Why? Imagine you hand a business card to a customer with a great logo that someone just designed for you with intricate shapes, lots of colors, shadows, and more. The person holds your business card in his hand, turns it to the right, then to the left, then upside down… and then he finally asks you: “What exactly is that?” You would probably try to explain every single shape and element and all 10 different colors in it. So the truth is: Too many elements can create confusion and reduce legibility.
Tip: Try to limit your design to the necessary elements only. Usually a good logo has simple lines and shapes, 1 to 3 flat colors (avoid gradients whenever possible), and works well in black and white as it would in color.
Your logo should be easy to remember and people should to be able to recognize and process your image quickly. If your logo is too complex it is going to be ignored, making it useless for branding.
2. Is your logo scalable?
If you keep your logo simple (step above), chances are you’re in the right direction to get this second one right. As you will be placing your logo in different media, it will likely need to be resized to extra large sizes (store front) and extra small sizes (business cards), not to mention printed materials, social media profile, and your website.
When changing from one media into another and when changing size from small to large (or vice-versa), your logo must be able to retain its shape and definition. If the logo is too complicated, it may end up losing details and causing visibility problems when resized.
Tip: Your logo must be scaled to any size without losing quality. Print your logo very small and extra large and put both designs side by side. Do they look like the same logo? Are they both legible and readable? Are there any important elements being lost? If you answer ‘yes’ to any of these, you may need to revisit and update your logo design. Often times a small change can make all the difference.
3. Is your logo professional?
A professional business should have a professional logo. Simple as that. Companies often invest a lot of time and money in property and equipment, but do not often match the investment in their logo.
Many business owners want to save money (we get that!) by designing their own logo, or they outsource to one of the design competition websites or to local printers, which are often amateur designers.
Remember: If your logo looks amateurish, then so will your business.
4. Is your logo unique?
If you used one of the three examples above: DIY, competition website or your local printer, it’s likely that one or more elements of your logo may be an existent vector graphic found in the web. “What’s the problem?” you may wondering. The problem is that with tens of thousands of people on the web there is a high chance that this same image/vector is already being used by someone else in the world, so yours is no longer unique.
There are people copying vector arts, adding a text to it and creating a logo. But please make sure you understand the laws on copyright before doing so, as this could possibly get you in serious trouble.
5. Does your logo have the right colors?
Most designers will design a logo solely based on a full color design to later find out that the logo loses its characteristics or definition when used in one color (e.g all black). A logo should first be designed in black and white. Doing so ensures that all elements used are in perfect harmony. In fact, the identity of a logo should not depend exclusively on its colors. Instead, the color should be the last decision and should be used to complement and enhance the design.
Are we saying that colors are not an important element to logo design? Absolutely not! In fact, color is a key player when defining your business’ brand and differentiating your company from your competitors. Colors can affect mood, feelings and behaviors. But more on that later! For now, just remember that, at one time or another, you may need to use your logo in black and white or even inverted on a dark background.
Tip: Check your logo and make sure it can be used as grayscale or black and white, without losing its definition.
6. Does your logo use the right font?
Some designers will spend days creating the logo mark (icon) to its full perfection only to place the text with a random font, as an afterthought.
Fonts are an important complement to any mark. They should match in style, and balance each other. Like the icons, fonts transmit feelings and emotions, and should be carefully chosen.
How do you find the perfect font for your design? This can take some time and practice paired with some lessons on the principles of good typography, but to simplify for our reader, let’s just say you have a doctor’s office. If you are checking to see if your logo has the right typography, ask the following: What do I feel when I read the text? Is it a bold text that has a heavy feeling to it? Is it a very light text that seems too delicate? Or is it a slim font that makes my business look modern and trendy? This is only one of the tests you could do. This is a starting point to check what feelings the font causes on people and consequently how it’s perceived. For a serious doctor’s office for example, a curved and decorative font may not be the right choice. On the other hand, that same font may be ideal for a children’s store or a daycare.
When it comes to designing a logo, choosing the right font is one of the most important decisions a designer can make.
Need help with your logo? Schedule a free strategy session with us today!