Logo design is an art and a science. That’s why graphic designers exist – were it easy to simplify and emblemize a company – they'd be out of work and we wouldn't offer logo design and branding services.
Your company’s logo can impact customer brand perception and the overall attitude formed towards your business. A logo is what helps distinguish a brand from its competitors, so it’s important that the image stands apart from the rest. A logo is a brand’s visual keystone using graphic design to create a corporate identity or brand identity which ideally becomes memorable and associated with the company it signifies.
Thus, when creating a logo or having a logo designed, you’ll want to remember these key logo design principles and general rules for creating the perfect logo:
Make It Unique
While they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, in the case of logos this does not apply AT ALL. Though inspiration can be drawn from existing logos that you think are awesome, asking a designer to replicate another logo but put a spin on it - is a terrible idea.
You want your logo to be entirely your own, absolutely original so that it stands apart and is identified with your brand and your brand only. The last thing you want is for your logo to be mistaken for another company’s logo. Your logo needs to be unique enough so that the only company that is recalled in the mind’s eye of your logo viewers is you and your brand alone.
On a side note, the term brand comes from the days when ranchers brand-ed their cattle to identify it as their own. In case a cow wandered off into a neighbour’s field, the cow could then be properly returned to its owner given that ranchers all had uniquely different brands that marked their herd.
Nike’s swoosh is often cited as being the perfect example of a logo or Apple’s apple with a “byte” in it. The point is – these logos are synonymous with the brands they represent and are unforgivingly simple in their design. They are the brand and do not require text explaining who or what they are. That’s what a simple powerful logo design can do.
A logo is an emblem, not a manifesto telling your company’s whole story. Though elements should be selectively chosen with your company’s story solidifying the design choices, squeezing every possible thing into your logo will make it look cluttered and more like a picture than a symbol. Realize the power of simple design and be sure your logo is simple, simple, simple.
A great logo design is adaptable such that it looks great across all platforms. Whether it’s being printed on a cheque, letterhead, an invoice, embroidered or printed on a t-shirt or displayed on a website, smartphone or business card – it’ll look good in black and white, reproduced in greyscale and/or in full color.
Logos must be legible when big or super small i.e. they must be scalable. Especially when your logo is reduced to a really small size, like if you were to create an app and it’s appearing in a tiny corner of your smartphone window, you want its features to remain intact. You want the text or graphic to scale down easily such that it is still decipherable.
Cluttered logos when scaled down will be indiscernible, with whatever fancy features blending together when truncated so that it just looks like a blob. Simple designs however, will maintain their integrity even when scaled all the way down, down, down. When it comes to scalability the text portion is the most important thing you’ll want to consider. If you’re including text in your logo be sure the typography choice and kerning (i.e. spacing between letters) scales down so that you can still read the text when it’s reduced to postage stamp size.
Colour Comes Second
A great logo will look good irrespective of what colour scheme is applied to it. Again, let’s recall the Apple logo and the many iterations of it – though it started out in colour, it’s progressed through grey, black and white.
You want a logo design that holds its appeal when displayed in black and white. A timeless, simple and awesome logo design will look great whatever color treatment is applied.
You don’t want your logo to be slave to a colour scheme because the fact of the matter is, it will get printed in black and white because not all people print in color and even colors can become dated looking. The point is, logos that use color as a design cornerstone may fall into a trap because well, the color may not render correctly on other people’s screens or printers.
Custom Typography Can Go a Long Way
Think about Coca-Cola’s logo --- it’s just lettering. But it’s also iconic in its ability to conjure up feelings about a bubbly brown cola on a hot summer’s day. Ray-Ban also uses simple distinct custom typography for their logo. Don’t discount the power of great text for a simple yet powerful logo design. But again, make sure it’s uniquely your own and when truncated still remains decipherable and looks great.
Awesome logo design is far harder to achieve than it appears on the outside. It requires taking a big idea - a business - and creating a symbol by which that company will form its identity around. The BMW logo isn't a car, the Apple logo isn't a computer or an iPhone icon - they're just simple graphics. But they also powerfully symbolize big players in their respective industries and that's exactly what a great logo can and should do.
“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” - Steve Jobs