aesthetic, evocative and enduring
By Andrew Szabo – The Marketing Chef
Part 2: LOGO DESIGN PRINCIPLES
In the previous blog post, we covered the key strategic principles for effective logo design: memorable, distinct and representative. Now let’s get down to the practicalities of effective logo design: technically and aesthetically.
Every effective logo design contains three design essentials: shape, style and color.
Visually we can distinguish between a croissant, bagel or an éclair can’t we? We don’t have to taste them to know the difference. Their shapes are distinctive. Why is this important?
Most people are visually, graphically oriented. They learn, process and remember ideas and information through images, icons and illustration. An effective logo therefore must be visually recognizable in the noisy bazaar that’s today’s marketplace.
A logo at its core has a shape.
This is the first and most essential component. So what makes a good logo shape?
The simpler the structure, the more identifiable, unforgettable and versatile your logo becomes. It needs to look good on everything from a business card to a booth backdrop. From an embroidered shirt to a social media fan page. Your logo design needs to function in the header of your Word® document printed in black and white, as well as in color on your PowerPoint® presentation projected onto a massive screen.
Recognizing a logo is principally a creative right-brain process. Hence, effective logo design cannot depend on left-brain activity, such as reading or calculating. Even word-logos are recognized by shape rather than read.
The Apple® logo is ubiquitous and globally recognizable — a shiny, silky, lustrous apple. The logo design has a bite taken out of the right side suggesting the Tree of Knowledge from the Bible. At its inception, the logo was far from simple. The original logo depicted Sir Isaac Newton under an apple tree — How good would that look on your iPhone?
Designer Rob Janoff rapidly replaced the original design with the simpler colored apple icon in 1976. Since 1998, the rainbow-striped apple metamorphosed three more times into the simplified monochrome logo we recognize today.
Logos should communicate a singular idea or concept. Your logo doesn’t need to say everything about your organization or brand. Select one, or a singular related cluster, of the key attributes of your message as determined by your brand strategy.
Logo Litmus Test 1. As with all of your other marketing ingredients … does your logo design communicate the key marketing strategic message? Communicate too much, and you’ll end up overwhelming your target audience.
Your logo is not just the graphic icon. It’s also the buffer space around the image. An effective logo must be sheltered with a “no-fly zone” of about 10-20% of white space. This protects your logo from getting lost, entangled or infringed by other graphical elements.
Simplicity. Singularity. Space. The three core elements of an effective logo’s shape.
For many of your stakeholders: prospects, customers, employees and investors, your logo is your organization. The aesthetic style of your logo design must be effective for who you are now and what you will become. For the offering you currently sell and the offerings you haven’t even developed yet. Your logo needs to resonate with your current stakeholders and for the generations to come.
LOGO FONTS SELECTION: Since your logo establishes expectations about your organization and your offering, it must be congruent to your brand. Heavy solid sans serif font or dainty script? Trustworthy, fun or whimsical? Cutting-edge, historic or nostalgic?
LOGO SIZE: This is often overlooked. Your logo designer shows a delightful logo design projected onto a computer screen. Later on you try and reproduce your logo design in miniature on a business card or a baseball cap … and it’s a disaster. In logo design … size matters.
Craft your logo design according to your strategic marketing message, not your personal preferences.
A logo that reflects today’s fashion can quickly get outdated. Images of your product become obsolete. Logo choice is a commitment.
Changing a logo can have significant ramifications: potentially eroding your brand equity, and devaluing the time, expenditure and energy you’ve already invested in cultivating recognition. Hence, your logo design must endure and stand the test of time.
Logo Litmus Test 2: Will your logo design work today, next year five years from now?
Color can be a troublesome topic. Paradoxically, this is the one area where you can procrastinate … a little. Assess your logo design in black and white first. Color distracts, misleads and can disguise deficient design. Evaluate the logo’s shape, style, and strategic congruency first.
Once you’ve selected the logo design, choose colors carefully. A great deal of objective research is available on color nuance and associations. Select colors that communicate your strategic message to your key stakeholders. Again, let this guide you rather than your personal preferences.
Secondly, ensure the colors you select for your logo design are practical and reproducible in different media. Some colors and shades succeed in full color, but distort in the four-color printing process. Others look great in print, but not on the Web. Think about other uses, such as on clothing (silkscreen & embroidery), video, sponsorship banners and promotional items. Consider the color of the background or “field” your logo might be reproduced on. For example, a few years ago embossed logo business cards with gold stamping was both popular and considered classy. But gold is not a color but a metal that is defined by its glittering properties and is ostensibly irreproducible on a screen or in print and hence has virtually disappeared from use.
Just as with shape and style, simplicity in color makes your logo unforgettable and easily recognizable to your client and prospect. Although a landscape with amber waves of grain, majestic purple mountains, and a bald eagle against a blue sky might feel idyllic, it’s not nearly as memorable as the blue Tiffany box or the Golden Arches or the bold purple and orange FedEx lettering.
The logo design is done. You have an effective logo that’s aesthetically agreeable, strategically sound and evocative, emotional and enduring. Now what?
LOGO DESIGN GRAPHIC STANDARDS
- LOGO FILES: Get your logo designer to send you the logos in different formats, sizes, in color and in black and white. Ensure you get the source vector files of your logo design as well. (Probably created in Adobe Illustrator®.) Why? Firstly, your designer may not be there for you in the future. Secondly, vector files allow you to infinitely scale your logo – you never know when you might need a banner or billboard.
- LOGO STANDARDS. Document the graphic standards of your logo. Design specifications include:
- Colors: know your pantone (PMS), RGB colors and Hexadecimal codes;
- Buffer “no-fly” zone space measurements
- Proportions of your logo
- Define proper logo usage.
- LOGO ARCHIVE. Secure all your final design logos and graphic standards in a safe place … backed up. You will need to retrieve your original logo designs time and time again.
Logo Litmus Test 3: Your final design of your effective logo. Have you documented, archived and backed up your final logo samples? (Sample Logo Graphic Standard.)
Finally, be consistent in deploying your logo design through all media, all the time. You’ve invested the necessary effort and thought and effort into creating and designing your effective logo you want the world to see what you see.
Need help with creating an effective logo design? Contact me!
Don’t forget I’m also a partner in a marketing firm: Marketing Symphony