7 Tips for Brilliant Logo design

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So many logos I see these days are absolutely terrible, and have clearly not been designed for use online.  I’m no designer, but have had occasion over the years to produce product and company graphics for a variety of purposes. The skills and talent of design professionals is not in any doubt, but as a bit of a control freak, I dislike asking someone to do something I could do myself. In recent years, I’ve done this more often, and have also been asked by others to do this for them.  You can see some of my work at the bottom of this post.

Whilst not essential (on its own) to the success of a business, great design can seriously affect the way your firm is viewed by customers, suppliers and employees. I would hold up Broadbean Technology as a brilliant example of this. From their very beginnings, their logo and branding have worked on many levels and truly embody a feel for the company’s values.

Here I’ll try to explain the very limited amount I’ve learned in designing logos for Internet use.

1. IDEA

Don’t worry if you don’t have a clear vision initially, but do remember that you’ll be stuck at this stage if you don’t get one fast. Start with the name of the company or website, and research that sector. Image searching on Google should show you what your competitors are doing, what styles, fonts, colours and imagery they use. Whilst you want your design to be distinct, you do need to know what kind of logos it will be alongside in your industry. Search also for similar wording or text in sites in totally different sectors. Even if you don’t find immediate inspiration, you’ll learn more about what you like and don’t like.

2. PROPORTION

Website logos are almost always featured at the top left of sites, and therefore are more pleasing when roughly two to three times as wide as their height. Standard banner size is 468 x 60 pixels, and are often featured top right. Taking this basic standard, an ideal website logo will be 60-100 pixels in height and 200-300 pixels wide. This is not a firm rule, but is a fair guide. Personally, I say avoid at all costs any logo which needs to be taller than this to be viewed properly, and NEVER have a logo which is taller than it is wide. Frankly, I can’t abide seeing Finalists for the NORAs with logos like this, as it makes using them extremely awkward.

3. TEXT AND FONTS

Unless your website or company are on the scale of Nike or Apple, your logo is likely to be text based, and state the name of the company. Make a big page in Photoshop and experiment with your name in lots of fonts and colours. Look at the shape the letters make for balance and symmetry, to find what pleases your eye. Use kerning (changing the space between letters) to make your text more unique, and maybe to emphasise a hidden shape, like the arrow in the FedEx logo.  If you see a font you like on another website, you can identify it here.

4. ICON – emblem

Whilst not essential, it can really help to have an additional non text icon or emblem to go along with your text logo. If done tastefully, this can also be used as punctuation throughout your site, and remind viewers of the brand without needing to read text. The Nike swoosh and House of Commons Portcullis do precisely this.

5. SCALE AND USAGE

This ties in with the proportions. Your need to consider where your logo will be used, and how it will look there. Will your logo look just as good when enlarged greatly, or when shrunk to a very small size? This is most often apparent when making banner ads of varying sizes from your logo.

6. COLOURS

You may well have pretty firm views on your logos colours, but it is worth considering the psychology of how colours affect your audience, when making a selection. I personally have used the blue and orange combination often, as have many notable brands. The blue signifies dependability and confidence, whilst the orange gives a flash of modernity, warmth and inspiration. Jobsite have had these colours from the beginning. http://desktoppub.about.com/cs/color/a/symbolism.htm

7. ALTERNATE DESIGNS

Because your logo will be used in so many different locations, including your website, letterheads, adverts, banners and maybe even company vehicles, it’s important to have variations of your core logo. This should include and black and white version, large size (perhaps including a tagline), small version (no tagline, simpler details), and on light and dark backgrounds.

Remember, it’s also important to produce a family of images for use as social media avatars and backgrounds for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and GooglePlus, amongst others.

Finally, consider this. An analysis of these top 50 brands gives some great pointers to effective logo design:

  • The name does not describe the product sold (94%)
  • The by-line tag is not included in the logo (90%)
  • The font style is clean and clear (84%)
  • The logo design uses one colour only (74%) (white & black not counted as a colour)
  • The logo design uses letters only without the symbol (74%)
  • The logo design is a made-up name or ACRONYM (72%)
  • The logo design is rectangular in shape (66%)
  • The logo design is one word only (62%)
  • The logo design includes the trademark symbol (54%) and is placed in the top right (48%)
  • The name is 6 letters or less (52%)
  • The name uses upper & lower case (44%) (excluding ACRONYMS)
  • The background is filled and solid. (52%)
  • The pronunciation includes three sounds/syllables (44%)
  • The predominant colour base is blue (40%)

Here are some logos I’ve designed and worked on over the years. I don’t claim them to be brilliant, but I’m not a pro-designer, and they work well.

 

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Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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