The Key to a Successful Logo Design

Simple is best. Yes, I said it! And mean it. Do I cringe while writing this because I make a living by creating logos? Not a chance. I want to share what I’ve learned after developing thousands of logos for companies around the world. A business needs a recognizable mark- which may mean a chosen typography style and/or color palette and iconic image.

But what solidifies your brand is how you style everything else and what design elements you choose to style with your logo. The act of creating a visual cohesiveness that you use throughout solidifies your brand.

Think of your top 3 favorite brands- maybe a boutique retailer, hotel or magazine. What do their logos look like? In most cases, I’d bet they are clean logotypes (a logo built from typography only).

W magazine's logo, a typeset serif W

*above: W magazine’s logo, a typeset serif W

Building your brand requires a lot of work and consistency beyond creating a logo, so consider staying away from too much color, lots of detail, and things that are difficult to reprint. Versatility is key.

However, if you want a detailed and colorful logo, consider having a secondary, more simple version of the logo that works well at various sizes and can be printed easily.

Consider building visual unity through:

▸ a brand color palette
▸ mood board
▸ signature images and photographs
▸ custom artwork
▸ business collateral

 

Simplicity and consistency help achieve professionalism and trust- a way to visually say “I’m good at what I do.”.

4 Steps to Creating a Logo

If you are in the market for a new logo design or perhaps even a redesign, you may feel overwhelmed.

I’m sure you’ve done a bit of research and compiled a selection of logo designs you really love however you are unsure of what you’d like for your company.Whenever my clients are having a tough time boiling down the most important factors to consider, I tell them… take a breather, and come back to this with a fresh eye.

Then, make a list.

These are the 4 most important aspects to talk over and consider.

1. FONT STYLE

I typically categorize font styles into 6 categories:

▸ serif
▸ sans serif
▸ handwritten
▸ script
▸ handwritten script
▸ typewriter

6 different font styles explained: serif, sans serif, handwritten, handwritten script, script, typewriter

There are many other sub-categories or descriptive words you can choose to use (for example: italic, brush, calligraphy, stencil, etc.) but these are the most widely-used and cover 90% of all font styles.

Understanding Font Weight and Kerning

Font kerning is the spacing between the letters. You can have anywhere from very tight kerning to standard or loose.

Font weight describes the thickness of the letters. Many font styles come available in different font weights i.e. heavy, bold, normal, light,  extra light. However, some fonts are available in only one weight. Designers can often edit standard fonts to be lighter or heavier, within reason.

2. COLOR PALETTE

Color Wheel

Source: Aaron Klopp

Leonardo da Vinci was one of the first known writers to examine color theory in the late 1400’s. In 1666, Isaac Newton introduced his Theory of Color, including the primary colors. A hundred years later, secondary, tertiary, and the concept of warm and cool colors were added to our current understanding of color theory.

Johannes Itten

Johannes Itten, German Painter 1888-1967

Color choice can evoke a certain mood and bring about a subliminal psychological response. Color can also evoke different responses for different people, and may have different meanings cross-culturally.

Consider your audience and what you want to say about your company. Do you want a bold, energetic design? Consider warms like yellow and red. Do you want a subtle, soothing design? Consider cool tones like blue or green.

Design Seeds, Pantone and Colour Lovers are a few places I’d strongly recommend to review potential color palettes.

3. ILLUSTRATION / IMAGERY

Logos can either A.) include an illustration or B.) be typographic only (this is called a logotype).

Logo with Illustration vs. Logotype

Think about the ways you plan to use your logo. Printing on business cards? Placing it on the header of your website? Using it for a Facebook profile image? Printing on t-shirts? Having a stamp made?

If a design is too detailed, the versatility may be compromised. Most logos need to be scalable, meaning they work well in a very small format as well as a very large format. If a design is too detailed, you may need various versions of the logo (text only, illustration and text, condensed version of the design, icon version, etc.)

4. HOW YOU WANT THE DESIGN TO FEEL

What kind of impression should the logo give: unique, professional, handmade, artistic, corporate, organic, clean, precise, balanced, symmetrical, layered, simple?

You should try to consider what a potential viewer may feel within the first 10 seconds of seeing your design. Research conducted by EyeTracking, Inc. shows that a consumer can make a choice in as little as a third of a second.

Who you are and what you do

A logo should quickly embody who you are and what you do. How can you visually achieve this?