Logos may seem small, but they have very big jobs. As one of the major staples for your brand, your logo design needs to describe your company, services and values.
When creating your logo, you want to get it right the first time. Because your logo quickly becomes an identifying factor for your business and brand, you don’t want to keep changing its design. You need to create something you’re proud of the first time around.
So, what should you include to make your logo as successful as possible? We have some logo design inspiration and eight factors you should consider when designing your company’s logo.
1. Maintain Simplicity
When you’re trying to create a logo that fits your brand, it’s easy to get a bit carried away. Between using your colors, a special font and unique images, you may end up with a mess of a design that’s too busy and unappealing.
When creating your logo, consider all the areas it may be placed. From your website to your products, you want to ensure your logo will look clean and professional no matter where it goes. If your logo is too complicated, this will be even harder to achieve.
Some of the most effective logos are extremely simple, including the Nike logo.
2. Be Unique
Your logo is yours alone. Because it’s designed to help your company stand out from the crowd, you need your logo to look different from what is already out there.
Try to avoid creating a logo that follows the trends or is too simple and easily replicated. While circles and arrows may be trendy now, they won’t be forever. When you have a logo that’s only “cool” for a certain period, you’re going to look old and outdated.
Avoid running into awkward similarities with another company’s logo — like Carrier and Ford — and create a unique image for your brand.
3. Play With Color
Colors in a logo are important for brand recognition and grabbing your audience’s attention. The NBC peacock logo is a great example of using color to represent a company. While you should keep the company colors in mind when creating your logo, you also need to remember that you’ll use different versions of the logo in different settings. Think all the different ways you may need to display your logo before selecting a color scheme for your design.
When you’re choosing the right colors for your logo, also consider how the design looks in grayscale, black and white and with a transparent background. If you’re going to place it on physical products such as clothing, consider how the colors look with the colors and design.
4. Consider Custom Type
The font selection for your logo is just as important as the icon or color, especially if you’re using the company name as the base. Rather than selecting a traditional font that many other businesses use, the right logo designer can create a type specifically for your business.
One of the most famous examples of this type logo is Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola doesn’t have extreme colors or a fancy icon. Instead, the have a font that’s easily recognizable all over the world. The Star Wars logo is another example of a custom font that represents a brand.
If you’re struggling to find a unique way to create your logo, consider having a custom font produced.
5. Play With White Space
When creating your logo, you have creative freedom to experiment a bit. Taking a step and creating something unexpected can bring great returns to your business. White space is a great way to portray another dimension within your logo. Using white space allows you to give multiple means and perspectives to your logo design.
Girl Scouts use white space to portray three different girls in their logo, although they aren’t immediately apparent when you first look at the shape. While you may only see a clover-like image at first glance, the logo represents the variety of women that make up the Girl Scouts.
FedEx also uses the white space in their logo to present the idea of movement by sneaking a white arrow between the Ex.
When creating your logo, consider what images and messages your white space can portray.
6. Get Creative
Some of the most easily remembered logos are witty and creative in the way they display the company’s focus. While not all company names and industries allow you to create a completely clever logo, you’ll be more easily remembered if you can.
The logo for the dating app Tinder is a great example of this. As an app hoping to ignite a fire between its users, Tinder uses a simple flame to portray both the company’s name and what they aim to help users achieve.
Think outside of the box when it comes to creating an identifying symbol for your logo.
7. Don’t Force It
When creating a logo that fits your brand and company, you may be tempted to try to get extremely creative or unique. While you want your logo to stand out, you don’t want to give the appearance that you’re trying too hard to be different. If you’re struggling to come up with an idea, there may be something unique right in front of you.
McDonalds is a great example of a company that pulled its logo from a defining feature about the business itself. The “M” that’s recognized around the world was actually taken right from the architecture of one of the first McDonalds restaurants. Instead of trying to force an image upon their brand, they took an image they were already recognized for and made it their logo.
Consider whether or not you’re already known for something when creating your logo. If the connection is already there, your customers will identify it even quicker.
8. Make a Statement
Part of showing off who you are as a brand is making a statement that defines you. You can also do this with visual assets in your business, such as your logo. Think about some of the more popular brands and their logos. Starbucks has a woman who invites conversation and controversy, and Nike has the iconic motions swoosh which ties into their sports lines of shoes and their motto of “Just Do It” perfectly.
Slack unveiled a new logo earlier this year, along with an explanation of the meaning behind their original logo and the reason they made the change. They still wanted their new logo to be recognizable with a similar structure and colors, but updated for their more modern needs and for a seamless look across different backgrounds and formats.
Their explanation of the morphing of their business model serves as a good reminder that your needs for your logo may change over time. Consider how adaptable your logo is going to be when creating it. It’s much easier on branding to start with the logo you intend to continue with long-term.
9. Add a Classic Touch
While it’s tempting to go with current trends to show you know about popular culture, trendy logos go out of style fast and then must be revamped. Instead, go with classic fonts and designs that stand the test of time over the long term. Stay away from things such as trendy colors that don’t translate well, motion in your logo or anything that might go out of style in a heartbeat. Your main logo should be fairly simple. However, you can always adapt your logo for special occasions and promotions. Still, the logo used across different marketing campaigns should be familiar to users.
I Love NY is a famous logo created by the well-known designer Milton Glaser in 1975. It remains popular to this day, showing just how timeless the logo is. His iconic heart and the abbreviation for NY fits on nearly any type of souvenir. The design is simple with the outline of a red hard and black block letters with a wide serif.
When selecting fonts, go with classical choices. You can choose either serif or sans serif, but the key is to go with a font that is likely to be as popular in five years as it is today. In addition to the classic nature of the font you choose, go for simple colors that adapt well to different mediums. Glaser used black and red. These colors pop against nearly any other color.
10. Consider Adaptability
A strong logo design adapts to whatever medium you use it on. Some logos are so detailed that they don’t adapt well as a favicon because the details are lost. Other logos have too many angles and don’t adapt well when blown up big because they pixelate. When creating your logo, stick with straight lines and simple designs so the logo adapts. However, you must also consider the color palette and how colors will translate online or in print. You must consider the format the logo is saved in, ensuring it adapts easily to different sizes.
Target’s red bullseye logo is instantly recognizable but adapts to different mediums. The logo looks the same on a business card as it does on their website or in a large format such as a billboard or on their store signs. Part of the reason the logo adapts so well has to do with the simplicity of the design. The logo is a single color on a transparent background. In addition, the lines are geometric and clean.
If there is a symbol that represents your business, try to come up with a simple logo design, such as an outline. The simpler the design, the easier it translates to different sizes. You might also want the design in scalable vector graphics (SVG), so it easily adapts to various sizes
11. Combine Words and Images
Some logos are brand image only, and other logos are words or letters only. However, some of the most powerful logos combine both words and images to create an overall impression that stays with the consumer. Think about some of those iconic brands and the ways in which they combine both, such as MasterCard and Starbucks. Of course, if your brand name is particularly long, you may need to use an abbreviation rather than your full name, or the design won’t translate well in smaller formats.
Paramount has a logo that highlights a specific image of the outline of a mountain. In some versions of the logo, the outline is simple, but in others, it is more fleshed out and appears more like the photograph of a mountain range in the background. The letters stay the same as far as font, and a series of stars appear over the half circle letters. Known as the “majestic mountain” logo, it is the oldest Hollywood film logo still in use today and dates back to 1914. Back then, the stars totaled 24 and represented Paramount’s 24 contracted actors and actresses. The number of stars is now 22, but no one is sure why.
For your own logo design, you can learn from the meaning behind the logo. The stars represent something to the brand and act as a conversation point for fans. Although the newer rendering of the logo is more detailed, the same majestic mountain appears. The words and the images of the logo all come together and create a deeper meaning for the company leaders and for fans.
12. Speak to Your Audience
Your logo should be appropriate for your target audience. If you design a logo for a financial institution, for instance, your clients want to feel secure investing their money with you. Your logo should show that you’re stable and serious. On the other hand, if you’re designing a logo for a daycare, the logo should show you know how to have fun and be lighthearted. Parents may not want to leave their child with someone who is stuffy.
La Petite Academy does a good job of speaking to their audience. Their daycare centers are about teaching children the things they need to know in early childhood, so they use a simple apple with a splash of red, which is a universal sign for educators. The tone of the logo is serious-minded but not stuffy. The font is tall and slender, giving the entire logo a light look. Parents can imagine their children having fun while learning at the daycare centers.
Spend time getting to know your audience and their preferences. How can your logo answer questions they have upfront simply through an image and the personality shown in the logo? Think about what you’d look for if you were one of your typical customers.
13. Consider Proportions
Have you ever seen a logo that looks so stretched out or bulky that it isn’t very impressive? The designer likely didn’t consider proportions when creating that logo. Spend time making sure each element works together and use basic design concepts of symmetry and proportion. Sketch out your logo and draw lines or circles around it to see how it looks with other elements. The overall impact should be aesthetically pleasing.
Pepsi features a logo with good use of proportions. Note the way the elements of the logo fill every part of the circle but still allow for elements to overlap if needed. Their logo is simple but features the company colors and a symbol similar to what they’ve used for many years. It is instantly recognizable as Pepsi’s logo.
Learning proportions may be one of the most difficult parts of design work because applying elements such as the Golden Ratio requires math and a lot of practice. However, simply making sure the elements go together in a way that is visually pleasing is a big step toward ensuring good proportions.
14. Be Ready for Revisions
While the strongest companies work hard to create great logos the first time around, they know that preferences can change. In order to stay relevant and timely, they make changes when they’re necessary. However, they also maintain the original feel of the logo.
Nickelodeon has had many different logos, but they each keep the same feel and basic design. By maintaining the classic orange and white motif, the Nickelodeon logo has continued to stay relevant and recognizable for customers.
When creating your logo, consider how easy or difficult it would be to make changes. While those changes can be difficult to predict right now, you don’t want to change the entire image of your logo in the future.
Creating a logo that accurately describes your company and your brand is crucial for being recognized with your customers. The logo that you create should accurately describe who you are, what you do, and what you can provide to your users or customers.
What are some of your favorite logos?
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.