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.”.

Image Editing

Clients often ask me, “Can I make edits to my own graphic files?” Here is a dodgy kind of answer… it depends wholly on your knowledge and skill with image editing programs. However, I have a few suggestions for ways in which you can give your own editing a try!You may, for example, run into an instance where you need a specific size file (ex: 400 pixels wide x 200 pixels). In this case, you will need some form of editing software (or a graphic designer) to resize a file.

If you want to try you own image editing, I recommend several different options:

Pixlr

Pixlr

1. The absolute easiest (and free) route is the online photo editor PIXLR. You can resize and specify pixel size.

Photoshop Elements
2. Adobe Photoshop Elements is around $150. This will allow you do to very minor editing. You can edit use PSE on your iPad or tablet which is pretty incredible.

GIMP, Free image editing software

Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program)

3. There is also a free image editing software made to mimic Photoshop called GIMP. I find GIMP a little difficult to navigate because of the complex editing tools provided but I’ve known several clients that quite like GIMP.

Adobe Creative Suite
4. If you want to use the software Graphic Designers use, the Adobe Creative Suite is the appropriate software bundle. Adobe Illustrator will specifically edit EPS and AI files (which is how most logos are created).

With all of these products there is of course a learning curve as there is when tackling any new software before becoming proficient, but if you are up for the challenge, have fun!

RGB vs. CMYK

This is a question I answer on the regular. What is the difference between RGB and CMYK? And what the heck does it mean? RGB (red, green, blue) color is meant for the web; these colors are written using light on screen. Colors often appear very vibrant, saturated and bright in RGB. CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) is built color on paper using 4 colors of ink. Color in CMYK tends to be a bit lighter and less vivid, despite what we might see on the monitor.

RGB and CMYK diagram

If you change an RGB file to CMYK, the colors will shift.

RGB vs CMYK image

Notice the immediate color difference?

To make absolutely sure something prints a specific color, the use of a Pantone-specific color with a professional printer is required.

Pantone Guide 

Pantone Swatch Guide

You have to specify a Pantone color which only certain professional printers can do. Pantone colors are how corporations and big businesses ensure they have the same color throughout (like Facebook Blue, for example.)

The Easiest Way Around This
If you are doing your own printing or having something printed locally, the very best bet is trial and error. If a file prints a little lighter and/or muted, then you edit it on screen to be a bit darker so that it prints a bit darker. You go back and forth until the file prints with colors you like. In the image editing software of your choice, try adjusting the saturation to be a bit higher. Sometimes bumping up the contract  will also yield a brighter printed image.

Are you using a Mac? Colors on a mac screen are WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get). So, you know your monitor is always calibrated correctly and colors appear as they should. If you are using a PC, calibrating your monitor may help.

Keep in mind that the brightness and contrast setting on your monitor will also have an effect on the appearance of color- both Mac and PC.