Logos are everywhere but it is only a handful that really sticks in our minds. If a friend mentions WWF, Volkswagen or Starbucks in a conversation, I am sure all of us could immediately visualise their logos. Am I right? Regardless of the fact that these are globally-recognised brands, there is something more to their logos that makes it easy for us to memorise them. So the question is how we create something memorable that stands out, something that is visually-pleasing and relatable to the company behind it at the same time. How do we create an authentic design in a sea full of logos?
Make it simple
Okay, that is probably not the best design tip. However, simple logos are easier to be recognised and memorised. If it takes someone more than 3 seconds to understand what they are looking at, the chances are they wouldn’t remember it for longer than 3 seconds either. In order to have an effective logo, it should be simple yet appropriate. The temptation to add too many elements or colours to make it fancy could have the opposite effect and turn out tasteless. Not sure if something should be on there? This is because it probably should not. There will be cases where the combination of various elements will complement and enhance the design but don’t overdo it just for the sake of it.
Look for inspiration
Get inspired in any way possible. Don’t only use the obvious logo web sites but go on general art, design and photography sites such as Deviant Art. See what other brands have done, what have worked for them and what have not. It is always a good idea to learn from the best and get inspiration from their success. Another idea is to research competitors and businesses in the same industry for insights. See what size they’ve chosen and what values they’ve tried to communicate through their logos.
Looking for inspiration and plagiarizing are too different things. Even if you are a true admirer of someone’s work, resist the temptation to imitate them. There are obvious ethical reasons why not to steal ideas but it could also be very harmful to your own reputation if you get caught.
Use of existing artworks
That is a tricky one. Do not use stock photos, the whole point of a logo is to be unique and original. You not only take the risk to end up with unsatisfied clients, but you also downgrade your own work as a designer. Another thing that might be too obvious but is worth mentioning is to avoid clichés. Screens for ‘IT’, globes for ‘international’ for example are a no go. Your idea wouldn’t be unique if so many other agencies have used the same symbols for their branding.
When it comes to typeface, you can either customize your own or adapt an existing one. If you’d like to create a custom typeface, don’t make it too fashionable so it doesn’t go out of date quickly. If you prefer adapting an existing font, try removing, extending or joining parts. Sometimes little changes could make a big difference. In both cases, gimmicky fonts should be out of the question at all costs (ironically, most gimmicky fonts are actually free… makes you wonder why).
Show it around
Show the finished design to your friends and family to see if they can see something you can’t. Don’t be one of these poor fellows. It is always better if you can show it to people from different ages and nationalities especially if your client is an international company. Sometimes colours and symbols have different connotations in different parts of the world. For example, white is the colour of death in India compared to the Western civilization where it is seen as a symbol of innocence. Whether you are a freelance designer or an agency, the most important thing is to fulfil your clients’ wish. If they are not happy with it, ask them what’s missing and work on it. Be ready to hear loads of crazy ideas and deal with unrealistic expectations but always stay positive and passionate.