Design Guide: 6 Principles for Creating a Great Logo + Bonus
You’ve just accepted one of the biggest professional challenges and you will design a logo. It’s exciting and you’re probably very anxious to get to work, but keep in mind that logo is not only a great graphic item. If brands represent the valuable qualities of products to customers and are subject to marketing efforts, logos provide identity – graphic identity but which conveys those qualities.
As there’s no secret recipe for creating an exceptional logo there are, however, some principles that if carefully followed will help you obtain an outstanding result. As in semiotics a logo, which is basically a sign, is a combination of a signifier and the signified. Namely, a logo is a mix of conceptual and graphic aspects that are equally important in achieving your goal, that of creating a great one.
So, before getting to the actual execution stage you should focus on the conceptualization part.
1. Get a detailed design brief
The first thing you should do is to ensure you fully understood your client’s idea. Discuss the concept, the graphic details. Make sure you get a thorough description of the requirements and, of course, of the desired outcome. Then you’ll be able to eventually provide a meaningful and properly executed logo.
Also, since you’re really determined to deliver more than just a logo meeting the client’s requirements, take some time for research. Having a deeper knowledge about your client’s business, industry, competitors (and their logos) will help you have an even clearer idea about concept you’ll implement when designing the logo.
Once you’ve established the concept, your actual designer work starts.
Successful logos are great logos and they unanimously have five main characteristics: they’re simple, memorable, timeless, versatile and appropriate. Having those in mind, the graphic execution should be easier.
Apple, Mercedes, Coca-Cola, they’re all some of the most famous brands. They have simple logos confirming once again that less is more. Thus, you should focus on creating a simple, yet meaningful logo, easy to recognize and memorize. Nevertheless, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a logo having a more complex design can’t be great, but when having so many supporting proofs, why not follow the same successful way?
Keeping the above example, I’m sure that once you’ve seen the names of those brands, their logos have instantly come in your mind. That’s because they’re also easy to memorize, a consequence of their simplistic design. You may argue that whether a logo is memorable or not is questionable, as this aspect cannot be immediately quantified. However, a simple and distinctive logo will be far much easier to memorize. Consequently, concentrate your efforts on designing a logo standing out of the crowd and being simple at the same time – then your graphic item will have the best chances to become a memorable logo.
Continuity inspires confidence and so does a logo remaining unchanged over the years, but still matching trends. Looking at the Starbucks’ logo, for instance – it was modified several times, but the brand is still on top – I’d say that this one is not a compulsory condition for a great logo. Even so, a logo that will still be effective after 15 in years is more than desirable. And that’s because any subsequent changes might not be as inspired as in the Starbucks’ case and might damage the brand identity.
Again, simplicity is a key ingredient when focusing on creating a timeless logo. Besides that, you should not try to follow a current trend. You can use it for getting your design inspiration, but give your creative-self some credit.
A logo’s versatility should be a must. Making a comparison, I’d say that considering its importance, ‘versatility’ for logos is similar to ‘adaptability’ when discussing about humans. A logo should be functional on a 60 m² banner, as well as on a business card. There’s no need to mention that creating a logo in a vector format is an important component of the versatile characteristic.
Also, when trying to design a versatile logo, it helps if you initially conceive it in black and white. Apart from the fact that this characteristic will not be affected by the colors you’ll eventually decide on together with your client, you’ll also concentrate yourself more on the meaning conveyed through the graphic concept than strictly on its appearance.
If the brand strategy is set up upon defining the target audience, the same must be done when designing a logo. It’s essential for a logo to match the audience, this aspect eventually determining whether it will be or not memorized. If you haven’t missed the research part, you should know the audience’s social characteristics, the cultural particularities of your client’s country. Use this information and you’ll ensure your logo will match the target audience.
Also, do not neglect the other aspect related to the appropriateness of a logo: the graphic design must reflect the company’s identity. So if you’re going to design the logo of a brokerage company for example, a sober style is suitable.
Here are two extra tips:
- Although the web is your work environment and the computer is your main tool, here’s a trick: go old style, take a sheet of paper and a pencil and start sketching the logo. It requires greater cognitive resources, engaging your brain more and boosting your creativity. Upon having the skeleton, the computer will be again your best friend.
- As is your client who firstly evaluates your work deciding whether it’s great or it needs some improvements, when presenting the logo, chose some of the best versions you’ve designed and let him see how it would fit in context. If you designed a logo for a jewelry brand, for example, show your logo on a ring box. Such presentation will be appreciated by your client who will have a clearer idea about the effectiveness of your logo.
If you’re facing your first logo challenge, these basic principles will help you be one step ahead in your way towards delivering an outstanding logo. Once you’ve made it, let us know how they worked for you! As well, feel free to share with us your own tips or experiences by leaving your comments below.