Designing a logo for your business is like hiring a lawyer to speak for you at trial.
The lawyer works on your behalf to present you to the court in the best possible light. She introduces you, explains what you’re all about, and convinces a jury that you’re the best version of yourself.
The same goes for a logo. After all, it speaks for your business, it serves as customers’ first introduction to your brand, and it represents what your company does. And, just like you’d want the best lawyer representing you at trial, you’re going to want to get your logo right the first time.
While many of us may not have had the unfortunate experience of sweating it out in a courtroom, we all know what it’s like to make a first impression and try to get people to like us.
You’re a small business owner; nobody also expects you to also be an artist. That said, you need to do your homework before you start creating your logo.
A top-quality photography logo will have different design best practices than a logo for a construction company, as will a freelance writer from a finance corporation; if you don’t look at what your competitors are doing, you’ll miss out on both the industry norms and potential ideas for your own designs.
Look at what others have done before you to get an idea of where you’re headed; you can familiarize yourself with the logos of some top-performing businesses in your field, or browse through a list of general logos until you see something speaks to you.
As you do your research, you’re going to find all sorts of design trends that will seem super exciting, and you may be tempted to apply all of them to your new logo.
This would be a huge mistake.
Trends tend to turn into cliches within the year, and the last association you want people to have with your business is that it’s outdated and tacky. On the flip side, your business’s logo should be timeless, because a logo that looks current tells your audience that your business is relevant.
This isn’t to say that you should avoid trends altogether; there are certainly logo design trends that will help your logo stand out and make a unique mark on the world. However, many of the trends that populate the design industry are quick to fade after their fifteen minutes of fame, so try to evaluate what’s a phase and what’s here to stay before becoming trend-friendly.
Sometimes, we tend to hold on to things even when we don’t need them (Hoarders, anyone?), but this is an instinct you should absolutely fight against when designing your logo.
While you’re browsing the world of logo design elements, you may get attached to a palette full of colors or an entire family of fonts – and that’s great! However, they don’t all belong in your logo. Simplicity = effective, where clutter = confusion for your audience.
Your business logo should feature the name or initials of your business, an icon, a font or two, and three colors at most.
Aside from a tagline, there is nothing else to include in your logo; don’t even think about bothering with trademark symbols like ‘™’ or a copyright. Remember that if a logo is too busy, it’ll detract from its point and turn customers away.
What does your audience have to do with designing your logo, you ask?
Like we said above, your logo is supposed to intrigue your audience and get them to see you in the best possible light. Failing to consider them when making your logo is like forgetting to include the grapes in a bottle of wine – you’ll end up with nothing usable.
Does this sound extreme?
Well, imagine you want to hire an entertainment company for your child’s birthday party. You’ve heard great things about them, so you go to look them up online – and find that their logo sports a tombstone on a black background. What are the chances you’re still going to take them?
That’s what I thought.
Always have your audience in mind for every part of the logo design process, so you can create a logo that will draw them in rather than chase them away.
If your logo doesn’t have an icon, it means the first thing your audience is sure to look at (and judge) is the text.
One of the biggest mistakes people make with their text is to choose the first font they see, without putting any real intention behind it. Fonts carry meaning, and you want that meaning to translate to your customers, whether you’re telling them your business is elegant and sophisticated or friendly and down-to-earth.
Also, you may choose to include a tagline in your logo that uses a different font than your main text – and that’s fine. However, there are a number of ways NOT to go about pairing fonts, so make sure to familiarize yourself with fonts that belong together before deciding on a team of typefaces.
Like with fonts, the colors in your logo are going to send your audience a message about your brand. As much as you may be attached to your purples or your browns, that’s not enough of a reason to apply them to your logo.
Let’s circle back to our audience mistake (#4): Why did the thought of a black logo for a children’s entertainment company immediately put you off?
The answer is that colors have their own psychology, whether we’re consciously aware of it or not. Blues convey serenity and sophistication, where reds convey passion and energy, while blacks certainly don’t convey cheerful-terrific-fun.
Also, as mentioned above, you should limit your color combinations to three at the most (such as black, white, and a third color that stands out). Too many colors will make for a messy logo, while two or three will make for a clean, crisp design.
A high-quality file can make the difference between a logo that gets ignored and a logo that gets celebrated.
You’ll want to put your logo everywhere once you have it, which will often mean resizing it to fit the context in which it’s found. Unfortunately, pixelated images and JPEGs aren’t going to cut it, as resizing these files will render your logo illegible and useless.
A vector file, on the other hand, will allow you to resize your logo however many times you want while preserving its quality, including when you want to print it on merchandise or business documents. You can also use a vector if you ever want to edit your logo in Adobe Illustrator or other design software.
While this is a post-design mistake, you can avoid it altogether by planning around it beforehand.
You’re going to want your logo everywhere that concerns your business, whether that’s on the homepage of your website or your printed merchandise. However, many people brand carelessly with their logo, without thinking about how it looks – an obvious mistake.
For example, logos in the center of a webpage appear awkward, as do logos that take up the whole width of a business card. (The top-left corner of your website, however, is the ideal place for a logo, as is displaying it in the center of your business card.)
Before you begin branding with your logo, picture it everywhere. Try different positions, sizes, and layouts and only then commit to its placement.
After you have designed your logo and begun to use it, you might be tempted to play around with the way it looks.
Have you noticed there’s no image to go along with this tip? That’s an example of inconsistency – and we know it doesn’t feel right!
Once you start branding with your logo, you need to stick to your design. As your audience gets to know your brand, they’ll come to associate your logo with your business and look out for it in the future. Not only that, but they’ll also come to trust you to deliver what they expect from you, because your logo will stand as a symbol of how reliable you are.
So, don’t start playing with your logo colors or changing the font to match the season. Trust us – your audience will appreciate the consistency in the long run.
Making mistakes is how we learn, but your logo will be more effective if you keep them to a minimum. Now that you know what not to do, have you thought about what your logo looks like yet? If you still aren’t sure, don’t worry; check out this list of logo design inspiration and the ideas will start flowing!