by Michael Guill, 107 Designs (@107designs)
Surely it's not that complex, right? I mean, designers are just computer geeks who draw. They just find a suitable piece of clipart, write the business name in the coolest font they can find (already installed on their computer of course), and add the company colors. Voila! Wrong! (on all accounts)
What Makes A Logo?
A great logo, heck, even a decent logo, requires a lot of thought, planning, and design talent. Sure, there are examples of accidental design, or logo epiphanies, or how a cheap logo turned out to be a great one. However, those stories are the exceptions, not the rule, so it's a good idea to venture into this logo business well-informed.
First: How To Ruin A Logo
No matter if it's you or a designer you hire to do your logo, watch out for the biggies. Here are some pretty common pitfalls in the process. Watch out for these and you'll be ahead.
This is where you take design elements (even colors) from more than one design, and combine them into a composite of something you think you'll like. "Hey, this shape on version 1 looks cool!" "Ooh, I like this font on version 4 and the yellow on version 2." Once you've started compositing, you're turning your logo into the design version of that time you made yourself sick because you thought it was a great idea to try one of everything on the Chinese buffet.
Technical Issues With Logos
Do you have access to the correct tools, such as illustration software (Adobe Illustrator), that will allow you to produce your logo in the right format for printing, embroidery, web use, etc? If you think you can get by with Microsoft Paint, Publisher, and PowerPoint, then I've got bad news for you: those won't cut it.
Logos & Branding Issues
Have you considered what colors mean? How about shapes? Have you double-checked that there's not some sort of inappropriate hidden meaning? Oftentimes, a company owner has a very clear idea of what they personally want to see in a logo, without considering the brand of the company and what it conveys to customers. It's important to be able to separate yourself enough from the logo to make the right evaluation: if you're too emotionally invested in the opinion, you might miss the mark on your logo design.
Your Logo Checklist
Meaning - Humans are quick to associate colors with themes or emotions, so make sure you're on the mark. There is a ton of information on the web about color psychology and what each can mean, so you might have to do some more reading. Caveat: color psychology is culture-dependent, so make sure you understand the meanings within your target culture.
Simplicity - Simple shapes are often the most effective and meaningful, as well as easy to incorporate into marketing campaigns. Think Target, The North Face, Ford, Old Navy, and Walmart.
Individuality - Set your company apart from your competition and let it be its own entity. Burger King doesn't have to (and doesn't want to) copy the Wendy's logo, because it's comfortable being its own brand with its own marketing techniques, ideal consumers, etc.
Memorability - You want your logo mark to be memorable, not just because it looks über cool, but because it will come to mind more quickly when people think of your industry. The mark should hint at what your company does while being simple enough for most people to file away mentally.
Things to avoid:
Meaningless Clipart - What do 3D spheres or smiling, waving cartoon figures have to do with anything?
Inappropriate Fonts - Curlz MT or Papyrus might look fine on your office picnic flyer, but they don't belong in your logo
Slogans or Taglines - They're hard to read and don't make sense when the logo is small, and slogans are likely to change over time with marketing campaigns. It's a smarter idea to keep them separate.
Business Suffixes - Look around and see if the big names have "Inc." or "LLC" actually anywhere in their logos.
Best of luck in your logo-finding adventure! There are many logo design firms from which to choose, but it's important to find a design company who communicates well and "clicks" with you. Keep your mind open, your focus on the brand, and your criticisms constructive, and you'll be well on your way to having a great logo.
For entertainment & dismay, peruse: yourlogomakesmebarf.com