Logos are seen everywhere. Everyone’s got a logo. A company logo is the first line of communication with potential clients and peers, yet many logos just plain suck. This begs to ask: How do the popular brands everyone is familiar with come up with their logos? What makes a logo eye-pleasing? How can a logo created in the 1800’s still stand for a carbonated, delicious and refreshing soda? This is the first installment in this “5 tips for good logos” series.
First lets transplant our brains. As designers we can get caught up in the “coolness” of our own personal taste. Just because we “get it” doesn’t mean others will. So before we continue, lets take our brains and place them into the heads of your average consumer. This is now the point of view we should be looking at our logo from. I find it relaxing to imagine my brain floating away landing with a slight “plop” into someone else’s head. Anytime you critically look at your work, do it from this perspective – the mind of an average consumer.
Now that you are in the right frame of mind its important to understand the value of a proper logo/identity. I include the term “identity” because your logo is integral, if not the focal point, of your corporate identity. Primarily your logo acts as a communicator, your first salesperson. Its presence on your business cards, letterhead, website etc, means your logo will speak to more pepole than any form of communication you do business with. Your company identity is already defined, it is up to the graphical representation of your identity (your logo) to properly convey what your identity is to the masses. Your logo is your company.
Read that again, Your Logo = Your Company. This simplistic view allows you to realize that the masses equate your company, with your logo. They become one. Synonymous. Interchangeable.
Tip #1.) Font First
The font you choose is probably the most important decision you will make when designing your logo. You want your company name to stand out in that consumer’s mind, right? Well, when Joe Sixpack looks at your logo, the first thing he does is scan it from left to right and read it. Your company name needs to be legible! I don’t know how many logos I see that commit the fatal mistake of using some overly curly script font that is not instantly recognizable. Take a look at some of the prominent brands we all know so well. Sony, Times, Ford all use the way that their name is displayed, as the logo. Do you see some odd shape next to Sony’s name? Not all logos have a shape or symbol. In fact, more popular logos do not have a symbol or icon next to the company name.
A potential client should be able to quickly look at your logo and read it. The second he or she has to pause and try to read it – you’ve lost them. Legibility applies to color and script fonts, too. The Ford logo above might look a little light in the loafers with dark text on a light background – but the reverse adds legiblity to a typically harder to read script font. If your logo has a strong emphatic font, but is lightly colored, it too will be hard to read. Sony opted for no color. Contrastingly, Time goes with the most eye catching color, red. Color is up to you – as long as it does not affect how easy to read your logo is.