Logo Design Tips
10 top tips for designing logos and specific design considerations to insure your logo design reproduces well in all mediums; screen, print, signage, etc.
Designing a Logo requires the right tools for the job;
- Use a vector based drawing package so the logo can be scaled to any size without loss of quality.
- The software must be able to support PANTONE and CMYK colours.
- Adobe Illustrator is the most popular logo design software in use today.
- Photoshop is no use for designing logos because it is bitmap based. Okay if you are only wanting a website logo and do not require commercial printing.
The Logo Design Brief
Ask the right questions! This is probably the most important step in the logo design process.
- What does the company do?
- Where? Local, national or global?
- Who are the target audience? A particular age group? High, mid or low earners?
- Where will the logo be displayed? Business cards, vehicle livery, apparel, a website, etc.
- Who are the competitors? You need to differentiate your logo design from the competition, for example, by choosing a different colour scheme.
Do your homework! Do as much research as you can in the time available.
- Research the competition and similar companies. Look at their logos and web sites. What kind of image do they project? Look at colour schemes, typefaces, images, symbols, etc.
- Look at unrelated businesses that target a similar audience as yours. What is their visual attraction?
Where do logo designers get their inspiration? Everywhere!
- Look around you where ever you go. Look for details in everything.
- Peruse books and magazines on any subject.
- Look at the visual arts and graphic design.
- Take an interest in all things and be inspired!
Write down as many words associated with the business as you can.
- What images / symbols come to mind?
- Which colour schemes would work well and which should you avoid?
- Look at the letters which make up the logo name; can something be created from the letter shapes?
- Can you make use of the negative space in or between characters?
Some logo designers may prefer to get started on the computer at this stage, but some will sketch out logo concepts with pencil and paper first; just rough thumbnail drawings. This is a very quick way to see if an idea has legs. Then pick out the best of these designs to be worked up on the computer.
Here is a list of possible things to consider when designing a logo.
- Less is more! Keep it simple!
- Readability and legibility at all sizes and in all intended mediums.
- Does the logo need to work in one colour? For embossing, newsprint, faxing, yellow pages, etc.
- Care should be taken when the logo is to appear on a website, because detail can be lost (due to the size of pixels), especially with fine fonts with serifs. Details which look fine when printed, may be lost on screen.
- Keep the number of colours to a minimum, generally speaking, no more than three. One or two will be more economical when printing stationery if you use Pantone inks.
- Choose Pantone Matching System (PMS) spot colour inks which have a good CMYK match, and also represent well on screen. Consult a PANTONE colour swatch book, if you have access to one, rather than rely on your computer screen.
- Do not use a 'rich' black in your logo; use 100% K (black) instead, to avoid misregistration when printed commercially.
- Bare in mind the possibility of registration problems when the logo is printed. Where two colours in the design meet a natural 'trap' can be created by choosing two colours which share one or more printing plates. For example, green and purple both have a percentage of cyan in them.
- Kerning - the space between letters in a word. Take the time to look at and adjust the optical spacing between each letter. When printed small it is not so noticeable, but when a logo is printed large on signs and vehicle livery, poor kerning will stand out like a saw thumb.
- Effects: transparency effects, blend modes, drop shadows, gradients, 3D effects, etc. These effects are not suited to all mediums. You need to know all of the intended uses of a logo before using any of these.
The choice of typeface when designing a logo can have a great affect on how the company is perceived. Things to consider;
- The style of font. Serif or sans serif? Serif fonts have a more traditional or formal look, while sans serif can look modern and are more legible, especially at small sizes.
- Handwritten? Fonts of handwriting or script have an informal quality and may be appropriate for a logo of somebody's name or for a company wishing to project a personal touch.
- Font weight. Light, normal or bold? Elegant or strong?
- Condensed or extended? If the logo name is long, then a condensed typeface would work better, or if it is a short name, then an extended font may be needed.
- All capitals or lowercase?
- Normal or italic?
- Readability. Only choose fonts which are easily read.
Once you have worked up your design ideas on the computer;
- Print them out at different sizes on a desktop printer to check legibility.
- Check to see if the logos look good at various sizes on screen.
- Place them next to competitors' logos and compare. They should be easily distinguishable.
- Show the designs to friends or colleagues and note any comments.
- If you are designing for a client, then present them with your best ideas, and explain your thinking behind each one.
Your client will pick the logo design they like best and may request changes, for example, the colour or they may prefer a typeface used in one of the other logo designs you presented them. If you are not designing the logo for yourself, then it is the client who has to live with the logo at the end of the day so you should respect the request to change something.