Graphic Design is an interesting profession. Along with the likes of Photography and Interior Design, a lot of people think it’s not a necessary expense. Why pay someone to do something you could probably do yourself or get done for free? I just hit the BUZZER really hard there. Wrong! Any form of artistic profession should be treated as such — a profession. I find that a lot of my clients tried going at it by themselves, and then realized that proper design was way out of their element. Or, worse, they tried and thought they succeeded.
In this article, I want to talk about logos, the anchor of your brand, and what makes a great one. You may have tried designing your own, or you even got some kid fresh out of college to do it for pennies. But, if it doesn’t follow these steps, it’s just not going to cut it in today’s competitive business world.
#1 Make it Unique
The Golden Arches of McDonalds, the mermaid of Starbucks and the Nike swoosh. What do they all have in common? They have extremely recognizable logos that separate them from their peers/competitors. Is it any wonder they are some of the most successful brands out there?
When designing a new brand’s logo, I look at several key factors: who is their demographic? What do other logos in their field look like? How can I make their logo stand out and separate them from their competitors? I, of course have a biased opinion, but when I look at a brand and see a well thought out logo centered around it, I immediately gain a higher level of respect for them and their product/service. Just because you own a coffee shop, doesn’t mean your logo needs to have coffee beans in it. That’s been done more times than too many. Try something new and fresh! Or better yet, let me! 🙂
#2 Make it Adaptable
So you’ve finished your masterpiece; the logo for your company is looking amazing (you really think so?), what’s next? Do you want to put it on a banner, do you want to wrap a vehicle in it? How about buttons or business cards? Uh Oh! That really “amazing” logo you just completed looks terrible at smaller sizes. Why didn’t anyone tell me this!? I’m speaking as you or someone you know that made a boo-boo such as this.
Simplicity is key here. If your logo looks great blown up on your computer screen, you have to make sure it also works on something as small as a business card. Nothing hurts more than realizing you’ve wasted a lot of time on a design and find out it’s not adaptable.
#3 Make it Timeless
Milton Glaser created the “I Love New York” logo in 1975. Thirty-six years later, you can still see his logo on shirts and other items at almost every gift shop in NYC. A successful logo needs to transcend the decade it was created. Keeping it simple and clean are great ways to make sure your brand look will stay fresh throughout the years.
#4 Make it Make Sense
If I’m designing a logo for a kids fun zone or theme park, I’m not going to grab ideas from a law firm design I just completed. The two don’t work together. A good logo takes into consideration the field it is in and the demographic it is targeting. Colors are really important as well. Certain colors mean certain things in certain cultures. This is where market research comes in. The last thing you want to do is give a bull wrangler a red logo, if you know what I mean.
Unless people suddenly develop distaste for hamburgers and coffee, I imagine McDonald’s and Starbucks aren’t going anywhere any time soon. It’s going to be very interesting to see how their logos adapt to the coming years. In the meantime, the questions you should be asking are, “does my brand logo fit within these requirements?” If not, how can we fix that?