The logo is a single mark that distinguishes your business from many of your competitors. It is more than a simple piece of art to display a name, it is a symbol that establishes a visual identity for your product or business. Logos create the first impression you make to potential customers that communicates what your brand is all about.
In the few years I’ve been in design, I have witnessed some odd scenarios when working with clients on logo design.
One scenario I wish I saw less of is when a logo doesn’t reach its potential and has a similar look to a competitor’s logo.
Another scenario I’ve seen is when a client puts so much detail into their mark that it compares to a digital-Van Gogh. Excessive detail makes a logo difficult to reproduce and can cause headaches down the road. Starbucks, for example, originally used a much more embellished logo.
Whether you or someone you know is looking to rebrand or start a business, here are some expert tips to help you define your logo so that it is just right.
Step away from Photoshop and clip art.
In a previous blog, we touched on the differences between raster art and vector art. But in case you missed it, a raster graphic is what you may be more familiar with – think gifs and jpegs. It is made of pixels that come together to form an image. A vector graphic, on the other hand, is made of points instead of pixels. Those points can be expanded without losing its quality.
Adobe Photoshop specializes in manipulating photos and incorporating special effects into raster images. While it can save vector art files, it is not a program intended to efficiently manipulate and edit vector art files like other tools, so we recommend against using Photoshop to create your logo.
I made the mistake of creating a logo in Photoshop for one of my first clients. When it came time to print the logo on a large sign, the printers asked for a vector file of the logo. At that point, I needed to recreate the logo to meet the needs of the printers.
I experienced some embarrassment in my mistake, but from that point I learned that it’s best to begin designing a logo in Adobe Illustrator which specializes in working with vector art files.
There are other programs out there that can work with vector art files, but this is our favorite tool to use. Also, be sure to save copies of your logo’s vector files (.ai and .eps file extensions) to avoid losing your original artwork!
As for clip art, save it for use in kindergarten fundraiser flyers, as it is not legal to use for commercial purposes. Clip art has been regarded as a staple of amateur branding when it comes to logo design, which leads us to our next point…
Make the most of your logo brainstorming session by refusing to settle on the obvious connotations that come to mind. Steer clear of overused fonts like Papyrus and common symbols. Ditch the globe for “international,” the tree for “nature,” and the speech bubble for “social.”
Let’s say you are creating a logo for a social media business. We already know that “social” equates to communicating, thus the speech bubble. Communicating also implies making the effort to make a connection. Being social and connecting also implies community. You see where this is going?
When the social media platform Twitter debuted, it caught users’ eyes by stepping outside the speech bubble and using a blue bird. It may take a few logical leaps to find something that relates back to what you want to communicate, but don’t rush your brainstorming sessions.
Make sure it is versatile.
Creating a versatile logo is crucial to its future uses. That’s why I recommend your logo be initially designed in one color. That sounds limiting, but this bit of advice is actually intended to give you more flexibility.
There may be instances where it is not possible to replicate your logo in multiple colors. For example, if you are printing your logo on t-shirts but you are on a budget, it may be more cost-effective to choose a single-color print.
You want to avoid any possible loss of detail to your design. If your logo features, let’s say, a shield with too many intricate curves and colors, you may end up printing what looks like an upside-down house.
Although you should start your design in one color, feel free to add in gradients and extra color once the single-color design is done! Just remember that less is more. Logo legends Coca-Cola and MTV created original logos that have withstood the test of time by carefully defining their brand and staying true to their roots with a simple design.
To sum it up, your logo should be memorable, aesthetically appealing, and should accurately represent your company. By factoring in those three points, you will be on the path to building a solid logo and brand that your customers will remember.
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