October 2, 2014

10 Commandments for Better Logo Design

10 Commandments for Better Logo Design

And the client spoke these words: “I am YOUR BOSS, he that hath commissioned a BRAND LOGO from your firm, who hath brought you from graphic design obscurity, and into the land where you shall have the means to purchase a 2015 Mercedes S-Class if your design so pleaseth me.”

Yes, sometimes clients can be pretentious, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t merit your very best efforts when it comes to logo design. In order to create a truly stunning logo, the following 10 tips for designing logos must be addressed, if not strictly followed.

Make it Simple

Oh, helpful. Hey, a straight line is simple.

Alright, smart guy. We mean a design concept that isn’t over-weighted by unnecessary ostentation. The more elaborate and baroque a logo design becomes, the less meaningful it is to the viewer. Take this, for example. The designer undoubtedly thought that an incredibly convoluted logo design would convey the gothic horror that was clearly intended, but it’s just unreadable, and it doesn’t really look like demon hell-script; it’s about as satanic as a varicose vein. If you’re looking for logo typography that evokes pure evil, you can’t go wrong with the Sears Tower font.

Make it Scalable

Another reason to jettison overly ornate design concepts – they scale horribly. A filigreed script that’s barely readable at 21 points will require bionic vision to be understood at 10 points. You want your teeny tiny logo to be just as clear as your great big logo.

Make it Evocative

The simple and scalable design of your logo has to communicate brand message clearly. This is probably the most difficult part of the design process, because precious few clients even know what their own brand message is.

Make it Vibrant

The color choices for your logo should be eye-catching, eye-pleasing and indicative of the brand identity you want to convey, particularly if you are changing your brand image. If your brand is new and youthful, bright, primary colors might be the appropriate choice. If your brand is old, trusted and dignified, rich hues would be suitable. If your brand is under indictment, invisible colors would be the way to go.

Make it Attractive in Black and White

When you choose your colors, make sure that they translate well to classic black and white, in case your brand travels back in time to 1938 for some reason.

Make it Unique

You know how the swoosh design worked so well for Nike? Do you also know that the swoosh design was ultimately appropriated by every semi-large corporation known to man, making the swoosh one of the biggest jokes in the graphic design world? Don’t be one of those poor, unoriginal souls. We’re looking at you, CapitalOne.

Make it Timeless

Do your best to avoid aggressive logo design trends, which can look dated as quickly as six weeks from the original unveiling.

Make it Versatile

The ideal logo concept can be condensed, expanded and used on multiple platforms without losing its integrity or being utterly confusing to the public.

Make it Relevant

Remember how we told you to avoid trends? You should, but you must also keep the prevailing cultural sentiment and current technological realities in mind. Be aware of the way the wind is blowing, so to speak. If you’re still using rotary phones, maybe you should give the design responsibility to a junior team member.

Make it Challenging

Not so challenging that the logo is difficult to look at without having a stroke, but complex and interesting enough to provoke thought.

…And the interns stood at a distance, as the designer presented the BRAND LOGO to THE CLIENT. And the designer said to the interns “be not afraid, for acquaintanceship with THE CLIENT will help you to produce work of high quality, and you shall one day be paid.” And THE CLIENT said unto the designer “My BRAND IDENTITY has been honored, and you SHALL have your 2015 Mercedes S-Class. Although I would have liked a swoosh.”


by Kevin Smith
SmashBrand helps brands create, optimize, and launch successful products, services, and customer experiences. Our data-driven process is the key to accelerating sales and minimizing risks.

We use a strategic combination of market research, design, and consumer testing to solve complex brand problems more effectively, create differentiation, and forge more meaningful connections with customers.

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