Thinking about logo design

Logos are all around us, they serve as an instant reminder to people of our company and products. For entrepreneurs logos say to the world “we’ve arrived” and are ready to do business. Creating a successful logo is much more than designing a visually pleasing graphic. When you think about it, we’re asking a single graphic to capture the companies brand position: who we are, what we do, be appealing to our target demographic, all this and at the same time be technically reproducible in a wide variety of applications and sizes. No small task!

I’ve put together a few things you may want to consider as you develop your logo. As you’ll see it’s not just about style. If your logo is to compete on a professional level and effectively communicate your company’s brand then it’s going to require a little thoughtful thinking! This will assist greatly in setting the direction of the creative process. Without a good design brief to guide your thinking you may find your ‘creative sheep’ scattered in all directions, lost in the wilderness of muddled ideas. So let’s get started.

What is your company’s unique selling point. Reduce it to a single sentence. What is the single most important/persuasive thing you want to say? The thing that makes your company or product unique?

What is the supporting rational or reasons to believe this?

What would you like the brands personality to reflect? Energetic, healthy lifestyle, serious, trustworthy, vitality, bright, flavourful. It can be more abstract like an attitude or outlook (hmm… that sounds like an email program I know). Think of brands like people; give them a personality. When you meet someone you instantly form an impression of them. What is the first impression you want to give someone when they meet your product? When the consumer is checking-out at the cash register is your packaging ‘someone’ they’d like to be associated with?

If your current logo has been around for awhile and in need of a refresh you may want to hark back to the past to retain the impression of a heritage brand or you may want a significant overhaul that looks to the future with contemporary optimism. Italix took a two stage approach in refreshing the Royal City identity. The logo was originally developed in the early 1900’s. Our approach was to re-fresh the logo in two stages, once in 2004 and then again some years later applying a further simplification and re-tooling.

RC_sFinalLogoHoriz

Study your competition and establish your brands positioning. This means when you’re designing your logo you’ll want to consider where your company or products brand position is in relation to your competitions brand position. Are you a high quality Godiva or lower price point M&M’s or maybe you’re somewhere in between? Defining exactly where you sit in the market will help you develop an appropriate image/logo that is suited to your brands position. Being specific helps otherwise you may end up being in the muddled middle with no distinct brand personality, a little like a mullet hairstyle, business on the front, party on the back, what’s it going to be?

Define your target audience. Avoid designing to your own particular likes and dislikes as far as style is concerned. The design needs to appeal to the target consumer. Being open to new ideas visually can be hard especially if a logo has been in place for a long time. Research has shown that the majority of people dislike a refreshed logo at first but then come to like the new one as time passes.

Fonts play a huge roll in logo design. The choices are massive. Gimmicky fonts may create some excitement at first but they end up looking very tired if not dated quickly. You want your logo to be enduring. You’re much better to select a well chosen, uncluttered font that compliments the brands personality. You may even want to consider a type only approach to your logo that rides alone on the strength of the font.

Avoid digital gimmicks and special effects such as drop shadows, reflections, gradients, 3D effects. If you took these away would your logo still be strong? If you reduced your logo to black & white does it still work well? Will it work with either a black or white background?

Experiment with your logo in different sizes to ensure it will work well in very small applications such as mobile devices and other digital media where it will be reduced to a few pixels. You’ll also want to consider how many colours it uses. It can be fairly important when it comes to packaging and print run costs. Printing presses are limited in the number of colours they can accommodate. Having a logo with too many colours may limit you as to how many colours you’ll have available to use on the rest of your design.

Making the investment up front in thinking through these things will pay off in the long run not only in setting the course for an enduring brand identity but also in assuring that your logo will be versatile across a wide variety of mediums and applications.

Happy designing!

Paul