Logo design is not just a matter of visual design or beauty. In the first place, logo design requires information from marketing, and not from the fine arts. Logos are not (only) supposed to be pretty, but work well considering the business’s purpose.
The logo is one of the essential elements in every business’s corporate design. A good logo will always stick in the back of potential customer’s heads. Big companies know about the power of internationally recognized logos and spend millions of dollars to turn their business into a brand. Here, their goal is to make their logo, their brand, seem omnipresent. It can be found on the stationery, each sent out email, the doorbell nameplate, and many other things. Essentially, it’s the face of the company. Thus, it has to be designed accordingly carefully.
The Brand Defines the Logo
The brand represents the entire business. Started from the idea, the staff, the office space, the marketing, and the advertisement, the brand is everything.
The logo, however, is just a visual element, even though it’s the most important one, used to display the brand. Since it practically fights on the front line, it’s an immensely important factor in a business’s overall effect, and usually, it is the first thing people will remember when a brand is being described.
A Good Logo Doesn’t Need Much
Less is more. If this sentence has any validity at all, it’s when it comes to an optimal logo.
Sometimes, the simplest logo is the best. If a logo is simple and thus easy to recognize, it’s just right. Some of the world’s most famous logos are very plain. A good example for that is Nike:
It doesn’t get much easier than that, yet the recognition factor is extremely high.
2. A Clear Message
Does your logo convey a clear, unambiguous message, and make clear what you’re about right away? Three small circles prove that this is possible without any issues. Here, however, we have to admit that the recognition does not work automatically, The viewer has to know the brand already to associate the shape. If you don’t want to jump-start a world business, you shouldn’t take that route. Instead, stick to common shapes:
Is a logo unique, and does it set itself apart from others? Does it stick out of the masses and is it almost unforgettable? MTV was able to unite all of these aspects in their logo:
What Else Matters
Typically, you’ll want to use colors strategically, as colors cause emotions. Color psychology is a topic you should take a look at. Here at Noupe, we have different articles on the psychology of colors already. At the bottom of the article, we have listed and linked them for you.
There is no random color selection for a business. Although the boss’s wife likes the red logo used by Coca-Cola, that doesn’t mean that this color is a good pick for her husband’s funeral parlor.
The color selection always has to be strategic. What do the colors mean, and is it good to have this psychological effect associated with my company? Here, it is important to know the general orientation, the product portfolio, as well as the customer base. Whatever color we choose, we will cause emotions. It’s better for us if they are the right and desired ones.
Coca-Cola, Virgin, and Red Bull have chosen a shade of red. Starbucks and Lacoste, however, use green. Barclays, Samsung, and Intel present themselves in blue.
Once we’ve dealt with the color selection’s psychological aspects, design comes into play. Although there are tons of designers that do it the other way around, we should never create a logo without defining the colors first. After all, the color choice already excludes some shape combinations by itself. A red tree for a forestry business would seem – let’s say – dramatic.
Thus, the logo should always be designed professionally, and not by the boss’s son after a bar visit until four am. In contrast to the young reveler, the designer will consider truly important aspects, like the function on different backgrounds, an optimal version for printing, scalable sizes for the web, and a lot more.
In the best case, the style represents the logo owner’s business purpose. A single look at the logo should be enough to associate the right product – the right brand – with it right away.
For that, knowing the core of the brand is necessary. What does the brand, that the logo is supposed to display, represent? Here, you can even go for seemingly ridiculous suggestions, as shown by one of our following examples.
Both companies have managed to be instantly recognizable, stick in the mind of potential clients, and make clear what they’re about right away; Apple, however, only in the form of a word and design mark.
Practical Aspects of Logo Design
1. File Formats
Depending on where the logo is supposed to be used, keeping technical parameters in mind is a must. Different usage purposes require different file formats, resolutions, and so on.
For the display on the web, you often need a variant with a transparent background, making a PNG with alpha transparency a good choice. For printing, forget the web formats. Here, we need the logo in a vector file variant (AI or EPS). Otherwise, printers will put you off languidly.
A logo should not only work well on a website, but also on stationery, flyers, and other print related items. Because of that, your logo shouldn’t have any odd proportions that can’t be properly displayed in the typical grid of conventional print products.
3. Contemporary Design
Fashion is not a factor in logo design. Sure, you may think about adjusting your logo to current design trends. However, this should always be done very carefully, sticking to essential design elements. The logo should be contemporary, and consistent over the brand’s lifespan.
It’s important that design is only the secondary factor of logo design. Designing a logo is a marketing question in the first place. Only once this question has been answered, will a skilled communication designer be able to craft the perfect logo. Of course, there are enough other hazards to pay attention to, but at least, there’s a clean foundation.
The designer Robert Mening also goes in-depth on basic research, which has to be an essential part of logo design, in his article “How to Design a Logo”. By the way, he studied media and marketing at the University of Malmö ;-)
Other Sources on Color Psychology
- An Introduction to Color Theory for Web Designers
- Noupe: The Psychology of Colors in Marketing and Branding
- Noupe: Chromantics: Do You Know the Psychology of Colors?