by Arthur Piccio . May 18th, 2012
I work in an online printing company, one that uses y’know real people who actually spend time to look and correct technical issues. We see thousands of different logos each and every single day.
While people in certain fields take logo design really seriously (graphic designers and architects for instance) it’s one of those things a lot of entrepreneurs in “unsexier” fields take for granted. Let’s be honest- when was the last time you saw a logo for an insurance company that really held your attention?
A logo should do a few things:
• Set you apart from the competition,
• Build trust,
• Help you sell whatever you’ve got to sell.
And a lot of us have been doing it wrong.
Ok, I’ll concede saying “doing it wrong” might be a bit harsh, since there is no right or wrong way to create a logo. However, I would confidently say a lot of us don’t take as much time or thought as we really need in order to make our logos really work for our field. Some very common mistakes include:
Despite what some graphic designers will tell you, Clipart does have its uses. I don’t know what those uses are, since I’ve never been desperate or lazy enough to use Clipart, but I’m sure there’s got to be something you could use it for.
In any case, “lazy”, and “pathetic” are two ideas that immediately come to mind when we see logo designs with images that came bundled-in with your computer. “Imaginatively stunted” and “clueless” are other ideas you risk associating your brand with when you use clipart.
Plus, this is such a common mistake, chances are people will have seen it somewhere else before – which does nothing to help you stand out. If you do stand out, it won’t be for the right reasons either.
If Satan had a less mentally acute brother, he’d use Comic Sans. It’s an utterly stupid font choice for anything outside of comics- and it doesn’t even do that very well. Unless it’s a day care center we’re talking about, Comic Sans makes you look unprofessional and at the same time communicates naivete in the worst sort of way.
Look how much harder it is to take these brands seriously:
Clipart and Comic Sans totally subverts that message:
The logo should be easy to put on a business card or letterhead without much tweaking. If your logo design is still recognizable after being shrunk to fit a 1×1 inch square, you’ve done this part right. This means your logo cannot be just a picture.
Colors can and probably should form part of your corporate identity. I’m not going to go into detail of how colors can affect things like appetite, mood, or trust, but you can probably see where that goes anyway. What many small businesses and entrepreneurs forget is that logos should be just as recognizable in black and white as they are in color.
We often make the confuse new ideas with good ones. When this happens to logos, they get irretrievably pegged to a certain era.
However, like bell bottom jeans and tie-dyed shirts, the rainbow color trend soon passed, and Apple found itself with a logo that suggested it was out of step – even though back then, the same elements suggested it was cutting edge.
What they did though, was to pare down the design to its essentials, updating it as certain things get trendy. Now we have this:
How the heck to you pin down good logo design then? It’s all subjective to a certain point. However, world-renowned industrial designer Dieter Rams has perhaps come closest to describing how good design should be.
His 10 Principles of Good Design has been widely used by designers in a variety of fields, especially with regards to the manufacture and sale of consumer goods and services.
They are as follows:
• Good Design Is Innovative
• Good Design Is Aesthetic
• Good Design Makes A Product Understandable
• Good Design Is Unobtrusive
• Good Design Is Honest
• Good Design Is Long-lasting
• Good Design Is Thorough Down to the Last Detail
• Good Design Is as Little Design as Possible
And perhaps less relevant for logo design:
• Good Design Makes a Product Useful
•Good Design Is Environmentally Friendly
Is all this fuss over logo design a bit silly? Perhaps. These are a lot of things to expect from a logo. Besides, how you actually run your company will count for so much more in the end. Plenty of hugely successful companies have ugly logos.
But remember, a logo is a placeholder for an enterprise – it speaks for the business. Can you ever be too careful about what you say?
The answer of course is NEVER.
Arthur Piccio manages YouTheEntrepreneur and has managed content for major players in the online printing industry. He was previously BizSugar's contributor of the week. His work has appeared multiple times on The New York Times' You're the Boss Small Business Blog. He enjoys guitar maintenance and reading up on history and psychology in his spare time.
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