What Makes a Good Logo? Experts Dish Their Top Tips for Budding Designers
You’re the one who doodles through meetings, and you’ve always got a pen and paper close by so you can sketch out your latest ideas. It only makes sense that you’d want to put your knack for design to work in a graphic design career!
All new designers need a portfolio to show off their best work. Logo designs can be a great place for upstart designers to find their footing. These projects may seem like a simple way to kick off your portfolio, but experts know there are definite do’s and don’ts in the world of logo design.
Start your design career off on the right foot by learning what makes a good logo. We’ve gathered logo design tips from industry experts who know a thing or two about what makes a good logo design. Check out these tips to make your logo designs stand out from the crowd.
What makes a good logo?
Logo design may seem easy, but it’s more complicated than you think. A good logo needs to represent a company, evoke a positive reaction and be instantly recognizable. These expert logo design tips will help you create stellar designs right from the start.
Do... create timeless designs
Trends come and go in design like with any other industry. It can be tempting to follow the trends, but a successful logo shouldn’t be outdated in five years. “The logo shouldn’t follow a trend but should follow the classic rules of art, making it a timeless piece with broad appeal,” recommends Rebecca Lysen, creative director at Phear Creative.
Lysen suggests focusing on simple, timeless designs to make sure your logos will stand the test of time. Forget about being trendy; it’s more important to give your client a logo they can use for years to come.
Don’t... rely on text
“Remember, what you are designing has to appeal to your client’s customers. It’s not about you or them. It’s about the end customer.”
Many of the most recognizable logos feature text as part of their branding. Think Nike, Apple and Taco Bell. But take the text away from any of these logos, and you’d still know which company they represent.
“If the symbol relies too heavily on text to explain it, then it’s back to the drawing board,” says Darryl Dote, web and graphic designer at J Digital Identity. Instead of using text to get your message across, Dote recommends designing a symbol that represents the company’s vision on its own.
Do... consider your client’s needs
In addition to creating a timeless logo design, you also need to think of your client’s needs down the road. “If your client has long-term goals with their business, it’s your duty to create a logo for them that will grow with their business,” says Dennis Michael, brand designer at Wake Creative.
Michael recommends focusing on simple yet unique designs. This is the perfect combination for a flexible logo that still makes your client’s company stand out from the pack.
Don’t... be too clever
Newbie designers want to show off their skills, but sometimes they miss the mark by trying to be too clever. “Remember, what you are designing has to appeal to your client’s customers. It’s not about you or them. It’s about the end customer,” says Michael.
Don’t overthink your logo designs or go overboard with too many details. Instead, Michael recommends keeping your focus on connecting with the end customer and creating a design that solves a problem.
Do... create versatile designs
Your logo design may look fantastic on your client’s website, but what about blown up on a billboard? Printed on a business card? Stamped onto a pen or mug? Companies use their logos in a myriad of ways. You need to be sure your logo is flexible enough to work in any branding situation.
“The same logo should be able to work on a billboard or as a social media icon without losing any clarity,” says Lysen. Lysen also recommends creating designs that have high contrast to create clarity wherever they’re used.
Don’t... forget about color
Logos need to look good both in color and black and white. Michael recommends beginning the design process in black and white before playing around with color options. A good logo “should be strong on its own without the use of color,” recommends Michael.
Once color comes into play, remember that simple is often better. “I favor one-color logos more than any other,” says fashion and graphic designer Ronnette A. Cox. She notes that simple, one-color brands are easily recognizable since customers are able to focus on the unique logo itself rather than being overwhelmed by too many colors.
Do... tell a story
Logos have limited space to get at the heart of what a company does. Make the most of it by making intentional design decisions that will help you tell that unique story for your client.
“Dig deep into understanding the client and their company,” says Michael. “These little details will help you create a memorable logo that communicates who the client is.”
Don’t... ignore emotional responses
People have psychological responses to certain colors and design elements — and that can make a big difference in the logos you’re designing. Your logo only has a split second to make a good impression, and you need to make the most of it. “Your design should take into consideration the human response,” says Cox.
“I find that pointy edges, certain colors and badly placed negative space can evoke a negative reaction such as anger or fear,” says Cox. Remember that the people looking at your logo aren’t designers themselves. When in doubt, ask the non-designers in your life for a quick opinion on their first impression to make sure your design is conveying the right message.
Are you ready jump into a graphic design career?
Now that you know all the do’s and don’ts of what makes a good logo design, you’re ready to create your portfolio and kick off the design career of your dreams. But there are more expert design tips and tricks you may be missing out on. Learn about the seven things self-taught designers don’t know they’re missing.
- What I Wish Someone Had Told Me BEFORE Becoming a Graphic Designer
- The Graphic Designer’s Guide to the Psychology of Color
- Your One-Stop Shop for Communicating with Design Clients