When it comes to design projects, logo designs tend to be some of the trickiest to work with, simply because of their purpose. All design tends to be conveying a message, this is true, but most designs get to use so much more to make their points accessible to the viewer.
Not to mention that the message being conveyed through most design gets to be a bit more focused or general as well. This is not always true with a logo. Logos usually have much more to convey with a much simpler vehicle to make their message land.
It is with that in mind that this post came to be. We thought we would search out the best resources, interviews, articles, whatever we could find to help take some of the proverbial guesswork out of this sometimes troublesome design task.
We also thought that we would go ahead and drop some tips into the mix as well to share a few of the pearls that have always stuck out and stayed true with us in this arena of choice: logo design! Which is where we will get started in the post today, with some advice.
Now in most conversations that we’ve had on logo design, there are a few standard bits of advice that tend to get tossed at the reader, so we thought that would be a good place to start. You more than likely have heard some of these before, but we have to start somewhere. So why not begin with somewhat of a refresher?
Less is More
As was already mentioned, with logos you often have quite a bit for your design to encapsulate which can tend to set you on a cluttered course of an overly busy, somewhat ineffective design. This urge must be avoided, for by and large, the way to the most effective logo design is through simplicity. That’s right, you hear it all the time, you want to keep it simple. Logos tend to work best when they are minimal and sleek, rather than busy and garish, so this is where you want to set your aim when you take on a logo design project.
Counting on Color
Given the minimal approach that most logo designs demand, one of the key elements we have at our disposal as designers for effectively pulling this together is color. Not plural. Just color. We stress this because one thing that most designers agree a logo needs to work is to be able to be conveyed in a basic black and white presentation without this compromising its effectiveness. The more colors that are used in the design, the more the design’s message becomes dependent on them. So keep it basic here as well.
As far as basic ‘musts’ for effective logo design go, scalability is near number one on the list. If the logo cannot be resized for use in virtually every size it is needed, then it scores less than fully successful. This is not always the case, mind you, but from what we have seen this tends to be the majority of cases. Logos need to be to versatile in presentation, and among other things that means scalability for transfer between mediums and marketing campaigns. This tends to be why vectors are the format logo designers prefer to work in.
With little to work with, every element counts and carries that much more, which is why choosing the right font for any of your typographical inclusions needs to be heavily considered. This is not a time to simply fall back on your favorite font just so you do not have to think about it. Give the decision the full weight and consideration it deserves, and with the mission in mind find a font that fits nicely within the logo, connecting with all of the finer points of the message that it is carrying. So keep your focus fixed on this element as well when working in this arena so as to not have it feel like an afterthought.
Like with all design jobs, getting the client to fill out a project brief is extremely important for being able to effectively craft the logo the client truly needs. Though there are unfortunately occasions when the job has to be done without a brief, or with such a limited one that it barely offers much insight, and things still successfully come together. Though it tends to not be a good idea to try this when creating a logo. Even if you cannot get the client to cooperate and send you the information you need, there is research you can do on your end to fill in the important parts of the brief. Below are a few of the brief bits that you need to be sure that you have covered when you set out to design a logo.
Get the History
History is important. It lets us know where we have been and what we have gone through. The same can be said of a business looking for an updated logo. If we do not know about the history of the company, not only do we have an incomplete picture from which to start our work, but like the saying goes, we might be doomed to repeat it so to speak. If the client is looking for a bit of a rebrand, then without consulting the past versions of the logo, we might near duplicate themes or elements they once had and have wished to leave behind. So getting the client to help us paint this picture can be crucial to the design work we are doing.
Not only can the historical perspective of the brief help us to avoid any repetition, but it can help us to find ways to throwback to the original design in creative new ways. So the history helps on both sides of that coin. Not only that, but as with any job, the more information we have going forward usually is usually the best way to proceed. The more we know about the business and its beginnings, the better prepared we are for finding a way to encapsulate and distill all of the pertinent and relevant information into the logo design. So try your best to get the client to be as forthcoming and comprehensive as they can when they are filling out the brief.
Get the Mission
Even though the history is important for knowing where the business started and how it has grown, another vital section of the brief for the logo design is the company’s current mission. In other words, the history is more of the background of the picture we need the brief to paint, while the mission is the foreground. Where the company is going. What they are moving towards. This helps to give you the full scope of the picture and allows you to feel out the project in a much more accessible way.
Now that you know where they are aiming, you can adjust your focus along that same track and imaginatively explore ways that your design can help create a sense of this endgame. Knowing this direction can assist you in numerous ways, beyond giving you a sense of what to impart. Our clients tend to know more about their fields than we necessarily do as designers (unless the client is from our own field of operations of course, then it is anybody’s game), so with a more distilled mission from the client we know what we need to focus on within their field and what we can avoid as we craft their logo. This way, their audience within the arena becomes clearer, and we can better adapt the message towards them.
Get Client Testimonials
Another section of the brief that we can include for a better picture of the client and their impact within their market is to have them provide a couple of client testimonials if they can. Naturally, not every job or client will have access to this, especially if they are new, but for those who can provide them it can be beneficial. Just like before when we talked about getting the complete picture from the client, these testimonials can serve up some finer points and detail that the picture would have otherwise lacked.
It is one thing to hear from the client about how effectively they are managing withing their field, but to some degree, we tend to write it off as hype. And even though the hype may be all we are selling through our design, if we believe it then we will more than likely be better at conveying that through the work. That is where the testimonials can help to really drive points about the company home through the design brief. By letting us, the designers, know what their audience sees as their strengths we can find ways to accentuate those through the design. So if the client can provide you with these insights, they might prove useful in your process.
Get Competitor Comparison Models
Another area of the brief that is crucial to logo creation, is the section on the client’s main market competitors. This is important for everyone involved in the project to consider for a number of reasons, but for the sake of the logo design, we need this insight to know what is already being done in terms of existing designs in the market. Originality tends to be what we strive for, so we want to be sure that we study the other businesses competing with our clients so that we know what imagery and symbolism has already been executed for conveying these sort of business ideas.
Now this is not to say that we are going to be able to come up with something that has never been done before, but it grants us a headspace wherein we are already in the environment we need to be in for our client’s design. Through this examination we begin already on the path to the audience we will be reaching for through our own design, then we just have to find a new way at them. So this element is often one that we should not attempt to proceed without having in the design brief.
Approaching Style with Caution
Now when it comes to logo designs, there are lots of stylistic approaches that you can take. In fact, you can just check out Logo Trends from Logo Lounge and see the numerous design styles and approaches that have been applied to these projects throughout the community, and which have steered them year by year. The site does a good job breaking down the various styles. However, you have to keep the basics in mind when you consider the stylistic approach that you are going to take. Especially, in regards to colors and scale.
We are the ones who should be aware of the lines and know which ones we should not cross. Image Credit
We are the ones who should be aware of the lines and know which ones we should not cross. Image Credit
If the style you choose is too complex then you are going to have to rely on the other elements to help pull it off. Color is where a lot of designers turn in these cases, losing sight of the black and white factor. And though the client does have final say with the overall outcome, when we can steer the design we should opt for a simpler style that does not overcomplicate the design. Not only should we remember the basics, but we should remember to keep it basic. You can still be stylish without compromising the effectiveness of the design, it is just up for us to figure out how to do that.
We are the key to finding and maintaining that balance between function and style in the logo as the project unfolds. It is not a matter of one or the other. Our expertise is what we are hired for, and it is this skill that allows us to find those fine lines that we should not cross. With the depth of the brief it is often easy to lose sight of the simple approach and opt for the razzle dazzle, but this can prove to be a mistake in the end.
Logo Tutorials & Resources
Below are a few collections of resources and tutorials specifically targeted at logo designers for you to get lost in. With so many useful tools and tips all in one place, we felt this was a great place to start for gathering resources for you to use in your own projects!
- 70 Excellent Logo Design Tutorials and Resources is a wonderful post from the Six Revisions crew that lays out a large selection of resources and tuts to lift your logos to a new level.
- 105+ Logo Design Tuts And Resources is another fantastic collection with hundreds of entries for you to pour through when you begin any logo design project.
- How to design an awesome logo by Gary Simon leads you through the logo design process step by step using Photoshop.
- n.design Studio Tutorials gives you a useful quick introduction to 3D logo design in Illustrator.
- The Ultimate List of The Best Logo Design Resources is an older post from Just Creative Designs, but it still packs plenty of punch for anyone interested in this specific area of design.
- Logo Design Toolbox: 60+ Resources for Logo Design is another fabulous collection of resources from the Design Mag team, and our final collection of logo design resources.
The Blogosphere’s Best
Throughout the interweb there are numerous blogs that have taken on the task of keeping logo designers in the proverbial know. From sites that are more or less finely focused on this subject matter, to those that take on the topic from time to time, we have gathered a few more cyber stops for you to check out on your logo design quest for knowledge:
- Logo Design Love is one of the top sites that designers turn to when they are looking for logo design info.
- Logo Lounge is an awesome site for sure, with lots of insightful logo information.
- Jeff Fisher’s Logo Motives Blog is a blog from one of the top names in the logo design game.
- Logobird is a very insightful and useful blog for logo designers from designer Duane Kinsey.
- Logolog is a fun logo design blog that features some wonderful logo design work from around the globe.
- Logodesigndotcom can be a useful source of inspiration. Browse their archives for some killer logo artwork.
- Logotalks’ article on the 33 Best Logo Design Processes of 2009 is a must-browse piece and useful reference collection.
- LogoBlog does not only blog, but showcases the award winning logos of their international community.
- LogoOrange gives you a nice insight into Logo Design History. Check out their Famous Brands Glossary and you’ll be astounded where some of today’s famous logos have come from.
- Logodesignerblog features a huge showcase with a nice section on logo design in businesscards.
- Luka Pensa lets us take a peek into his large logo design portfolio.
- Gary Simon showcases some of his work in his online portfolio.
- LogoTwo presents one of the largest collections of Web 2.0 Logo designs on the Internet submitted by webmasters arround the world.
- LogoFavessole’sintention is to provide you with some logo design inspiration.
- Pixel Clouds showcases an inspiring selection of logos.
- The Flickr Logo Showcase is a collection of work you should not miss out on.
- LogoPond wants you to feast on their Identity Inspiration.
- LogoRaid features logo design work from around the world.
Very Helpful Articles
- Logo Design Tips & A Not-So-Ordinary Interview with Logo Designer, Jeff Fisher is an insightful interview that no logo designer or enthusiast should miss.
- Logo design tips from the Logo Factory is another article with some useful hints for those in the field.
- 10 Logo Design Tips From the Field is an article from Logo Design Love that we had to feature here even though we featured the site as well. Definitely a must read.
- 5 Useful Logo Design Tips from David Airey’s blog is another post that we had to feature here. Concise and insightful.
- Minimalism in Logo Design: Positively Perfect Negative Spaces is a post on effectively using negative space in your minimalist logo designs.
Logo Book Learning
Below are a few books on the subject of logo design that we had to highlight before the post wrapped up. If your desire extends beyond the blogosphere, you can always take you love for logo design to more in-depth sources of study:
- Logo Design Love : A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities is a book from one of the top names in logos.
- Logo Lounge Series of Books is a series of books from the Logo Lounge Crew. Since that section of the site is for members only, we have linked the Amazon page for the first in the series.
- Identity Crisis : 50 Redesigns that Transformed Stale Identities into Successful Brands is another book from one of the most well known names in the biz, Jeff Fisher.