Getting a logo designed for your brand can be pretty stressful. The logo that’s right for you is a mix of brand storytelling, marketing to your audience, and something that you simply like (or hopefully LOVE). As a designer, my job is to do adequate brand and market research so I can advise you with fonts, colors, and shapes. But at the end of the day, you’re either going to like it—or you're not. Here are some characteristics that make up a good (and effective) logo.
1. Clear and simple.
Your logo should be readable from a mile away (or anyways some sort of distance). It should look strong as a tiny thumbnail, and powerful as an ad on a billboard. This means clear fonts, simple colors, and strong shapes. With flat design being on trend right now, modern logos are more clean and simple than ever.
Even if your logo is whimsical and personable—it should still look professional. I won’t get into the design jargon, but subtle lazy shortcuts in logos are really apparent, and can make your logo look unprofessional and hurt your credibility. Things such as bad font choices, dated colors, or clip-art like images can all hurt your logo. Make sure you’re working with a designer who takes the time to create your logo right, and uses good design practices throughout the entire process.
3. Represents your story.
You have just several seconds—one glance—to make an impression with your audience. Your logo should tell your brand story and make your customers feel a certain way when they look at it. I always tell me clients during a logo reveal that they only have one chance to be in their customers’ shoes. This is their moment to have a first impression—so pay attention to those gut reactions, your feelings, and see if the logo effectively tells your story.
It’s vital that your logo not only stands out from the competition, but feels 100% unique to you and your business. With every single client I work with, I always provide one hand-drawn option. I can play with shapes and colors and fonts all day, but if I hand-draw an image or hand-render a font, that sketch is 100% unique to them. And I’ll be honest—90% of the time, that’s the logo that’s chosen. Make sure your logo says “you” and really stands out.
Your logo needs to be easy to use, versatile in any circumstance, and look good in one color. What’s this about one color? There will come a time when you have to use a one-color version of your logo. Whether it’s for contrast when put on a photo, or on a print piece to save money—your logo needs a one-color option.
I design all of my logos in black/white. This is to ensure that the shapes and lettering are all solid (without the help of color). And then I know after we’ve settled on a color palette, I can make the one-color logo version without any hiccups.
This one I often go around and around about… but when it boils down to it, investing in a logo and brand identity can be rather expensive. You want something that’s going to last you years—not just for your finances, but also because you want to establish that strong brand recognition. It might seem fun to jump on a trend (and a few trendy design elements can make your logo really modern), but it needs to withstand the going and coming trends and BE YOU. If it’s unique to you, you won’t run into this issue.
What makes a good logo is highly subjective. Just think of a political candidate’s logo, or the olympic’s logo and the scrutiny it falls to the moment it’s published. (I really do feel quite sorry for the designers, because I’m not sure they can win.) Some people LOVE IT, while others HATE IT (and burn it at the stake on every blog imaginable).
When in doubt, just pay attention to yourself. You know your consumers and your story better than anyone else. But also give time to your designer to explain their design decisions, how they landed where they did, and how it’s going to make you stand out and get heard. There's a balance between applying what you know, and listening to someone on the outside sharing their expertise.
I put together a quick little checklist from the above list. As you head into your design concept presentation with your designer, pull out this checklist, ask yourself these questions, and make sure your logo is not only GOOD, but is going to be EFFECTIVE. (Just click on the list to the right. >>>>>)
Next week I'll be sharing with my email list some important logo qualities specific to authors. If you're an author and want in on it, make sure to jump on my Design Weekly for Writers list!