February 10, 2014

Yes, I See Your Logo, I Just Don’t Get It

Yes, I See Your Logo, I Just Don’t Get It

When we introduce ourselves to new people, we generally do our best to greet them with a firm handshake, steady eye contact and a warm smile. When we’re shifty, loud, sweaty-palmed or lean in a little too close for comfort, the person to whom we are introducing ourselves may not get the very best impression of us, or may even sprint from the room. A logo is a consumer’s introduction to the brand. That introduction can be polished, confident and attractive, or it can be aggressive, poorly planned, and wearing a hideous, ill-fitting suit. Don’t let your logo humiliate you or your brand.

The following issues are fairly basic to logo design, but even the best designers will occasionally make these mistakes. Here are a few logo design issues you may want to avoid.

Logo Doesn’t Match Brand Identity

How about a nice, big and bold molecular structure design for your brand of Edwardian-inspired infant wear?

If you’ve cultivated your brand identity in a specific way, you need your logo to act as an efficient delivery system. If your logo conveys a completely different message from what your brand stands for, then what was the point of all that work?

This typically occurs when a designer designs for himself and not the client. It doesn’t matter how well a logo is designed or how aesthetically pleasing it is independent of the product and brand — if it doesn’t tell you anything about the brand itself, it’s useless.

Logo Isn’t Unique

Your logo shouldn’t remind the consumer of some other brand. Firstly, because you clearly don’t want to distract potential customers from the individual merits of your product. Secondly, the brand that uses a similar badge might not have the kind of reputation you want associated with your organization. What if the logo design scheme for your Catholic Relief Coalition reminded everyone of Planned Parenthood? No tool could possibly measure the level of outrage.

Using stock images or photography can be fatal (especially when copyright laws are misinterpreted). If there is a stock image floating around for the world to see and use, who’s to say that it hasn’t been used for some other logo before?

Logo Is Overly Complicated

Elaborate or intricate graphics can result in a blurry and unmemorable logo. The more tiny details the viewer has to process, the less likely those details will have any kind of impact. Except, of course, to make your product and your brand look amateurish.

Recognizability is essential to successful logo design, and if your logo is too busy or convoluted to stick in the viewer’s mind, it’s a fail. Don’t feel too bad, though – even Apple originally made the same mistake.

Logo Relies on Trends

Even though it is dangerous to completely ignore popular tastes, doggedly following trends will only make your logo design seem clichéd.

Just because the youngsters think a certain swoosh or color scheme is hip and cool doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for your logo. Trends have the unfortunate tendency to look very dated very, very quickly.

Logo Is Randomly Constructed

An elegantly designed logo speaks highly of the product and the brand. When a design looks haphazard, the company image suffers, in much the same way that a person’s professional appearance can suffer from an overabundance of facial tattoos.

We have all heard of designers whose best-known concepts were purely accidental. The Quiksilver tee shirt and hoodie logo was just such a design — two fonts crammed together in an ungraceful manner that turned out to be the most recognizable of all of the many Quiksilver brand logos. But even though this chap might have fallen onto a marketable design concept, cramming together design elements almost at random rarely yields anything useable. It’s like trying to achieve financial stability solely by playing Powerball.

Logo design is a complex business. Yes, some brands accidentally stumble upon a fantastic logo, but the rest of the unskilled corporate world that attempts homemade logo design is in danger of coping with a “MegaFlicks” situation. This problems of the “MegaFlicks” logo were many; some customers were deeply insulted — others merely felt lied to. They pretty much failed across the board. Why didn’t they hire someone who knows what he or she was doing in the realm of logo design? Who cares, since we all now get a good laugh about it.


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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