What is Good Logo Design?

What is good logo design? A question asked by both the client and the designer. This article will explain what the core principles are of how to make an effective logo and look at examples of how this is applied. We will start with the  core principles that revolve around good logo design:
  • Simplicity
  • Versatility
  • Use of colour
  • Creativity
  • Relevancy
  • Memorability

A Simple Logo Design

Simple logo design follows the saying "Less is more". It is a common error when designing a logo to think that it needs to be complex or highly decorated. The best logos are the ones which use a simple design. For example: the logo below for Best Move uses a simple house outline combined with a subtle arrow to indicate the movement. It is also green to signify moving forward ( use of colour will be discussed further on in this article).

If a logo designer were to take this brand name they could draw out a detailed vector house, use various shading to make it 3D, and while it may look great and be suitable for other graphic projects , it wouldn't be suitable for a logo design. The best logos are ones which are simple, mainly because of their low cognitive load they have on the viewer. Its easier and faster for your brain to recognise and remember a simple logo rather than a complex one.  A simple design also shows that your brand speaks for itself and doesn't need to hide behind a fancy complex logo.

A Versatile Logo

A versatile  logo means your logo can be used across multiple platforms. In other words your logo will be effective if it was used on a billboard, business card, leaflet, TV advert, magazine. One of the main things that designers do wrong when designing a logo is use a font that is very thin. It looks good when viewed close up - giving logos a stylish and modern edge, but when viewed as 100px across web .gif  - it can get a little bit harder to read. Its always best to test your logo in a variety of sizes before finalising. If it looks too thin you can bold the font , or if your font hasn't got a bold version , stick it in illustrator and put a stroke around it. Make sure that the emblem or graphic used also has a design that looks good on any size. Make sure edges aren't too close together , it looks bad when there is a 1pixel gap between to edges as the line is not clearly defined.


Use of colour


Is by far one of the most important things to consider when designing a logo. Its best to keep it to no more than 3 colours, as then it starts to look to complicated and has a negative impact on the viewer as discussed earlier, also 3 simple colours will be easier to remember. The choice of these colours can drastically change the look and feel of the logo, so its good to experiment in two ways:

  • Using a family of colours
  • Using complimentary colours


Family of Colours


Are a using the same colour but in different shades. These are good because it keeps the logo consistent and there are no chances of a colour clash. As well as using different shades of a colour its also good to use a colour then either black or grey. It gives the logo a neutral colour to work on if you want to keep it all one colour.


Complimentary Colours

are colours which are the exact opposite of one another and thus make each other stand out more. The complimentary colour wheel is something that has been used for years by traditional artists, graphic designers, and interior designers. Common examples are on sportswear LA Lakers use Yellow and Purple which are complimentary and likewise New York Knicks use Orange and Blue. When you think of Christmas you think of Red and Green - also complimentary colours. If you are going for a bright and bold logo then complimentarys are the ones to use. However if you require something that is more downbeat and subtle then Family of Colours are more suited.


Complimentary and Family of Colours are not the Only Way


Are not the only way of using colours merely a guide. Some other colour combinations do work well together. The main give away that colours aren't working well together is if you write the text out in one colour and place it on a background of the second colour. The colours may produce an optical illusion where it makes the text difficult to read because of a shine. This is because your eyes cannot focus on both colours as a whole so rapidly switches between them. One way to get around this is to make either of the colours lighter or darker, until the text is easy to read with no illusions.


Creative


The most important aspect of a good logo design is that it is creative. How can a logo be creative ? It needs to take on an original approach and look at the nature of the business to create something that uses one or more of the following properties:

  • Dynamics
  • Subtleness
  • Illusions
  • Modernism

A logo that makes the viewer say "Wow thats a cool logo" isn't in the amount of detail, the choice of colour, or the font. Its in the creative idea that makes the logo memorable. Incorporation of subtle elements, related to the business, into the text or emblem are what makes the logo appear clever and well thought through. An example would be in the logo below:


This logo demonstrates how an opportunity has been applied to make a creative logo. When designing, look at the letters, think about possible shapes relevant to the logos business, and think about how they could be placed inside the text or around the text to create something that is all inclusive. Other examples of this technique include the logos for Fedex, Kit Kat, and Toyota. You can read more about this in
Top 10 Creative Logos >


Relevant


An all too common mistake for logo designers is to create a generic logo that has no relevance to the business it is being designed for. A cliche swoosh around text is now fast becoming outdated, logo design needs to move forward into uncharted areas. This may seem like an obvious point but when it comes to designing a corporate logo for a company that spans across multiple diverse sectors then a singular theme will not be sufficient and neither will a theme which incorporates everything - it will become too cluttered and lose simplicity. The best thing to do in this situation is to focus on the core values of the company, break it down to it's simplest form. If you can try and use only 2 or 3 words to describe what the company is. Then use these 3 words as a basis for what the emblem will look like.

If the company is in the enviromental sector but spans across engineering ( wind turbines, hydrodams ) , charity ( raising awareness about the surrounding issues ) and retail ( enviro-friendly products ). Then it can be difficult to design a logo that sums up all of these areas. Instead go down a different path and sum up the company's overall values :  charitable, forward thinking, sustainable. You can then base your emblem design on these keywords instead of the literal things they do.
If anything relevance to the company's cause is an important factor in how the logo conveys what the company is about. If you cannot describe what the company does from looking at the logo, then it has failed in its job of being relevant.


Memorable


In a world where trends define a market, it's about finding the sweet spot near edge of the trend;  following it but also leading it.  Using the styles that are defining this era: sans serif fonts, bold fonts, bright colours, simplicity, glassy shines, and gradients, to design a logo that is current, but also exploring new ways of branding a company through original emblem and font design. Memorable designs are ones which etch their creativity into someone's mind at a glance. It doesn't take the viewer time to remember each detail and colour, which is why again simplicity is important.

Simplicity and Creativity = Memorability

Articles
> What is Good Logo Design?
> Top 10 Creative Logos
> Top 10 Worst Logos
> Logo Trends for 2011
> Why Speculative logo design is bad for the design industry as well as the client
> How much should a logo cost?
> How to decide on a font type?
> 4 Things that logo designers commonly do wrong
> 5 Famous Logo Re-Designs that went wrong
> The best books for logo design inspiration

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