Logos: Design Tips From A Graphic Design Pro
Does your company’s logo accurately reflect the value of your products and services?
No matter how successful your business is, a review of the value and effectiveness of your company’s logo should be conducted against your branding and marketing efforts on an annual basis. A review doesn’t necessarily mean a redesign, it’s more like a marketing stress test.
A logo won’t determine your success or failure, but it can hinder your efforts if it isn’t keeping up with your other marketing efforts.
Think of a less than ideal logo design as a headwind. Think of a strong logo design as a tailwind.
How does your logo measure up to the following benchmarks?
- Is your logo visually up to date? – The best logos tend to appear timeless in style. This is a result of the careful development of type, symbol and color that is true to the brand essence.
- Is your logo based on an original idea or a derivative of another brand? – Your logo should be original. Logos that mimic established brands create confusion in the consumer’s mind. Ultimately, confusion will create a negative impression and may open up your company to legal actions. Even a humorous non-editorial graphic which plays on major brand names are susceptible to cease and desist communications.
- Does your logo stand up to your competitor’s logos? – Although your product and service are ultimately what people want from your company, a logo is often the first thing people see. If your mark isn’t on par or better than your competitor’s, it can create doubt in the consumer’s mind as to the quality of your offerings vs. a competitor’s.
- Is your logo symbolic or a literal translation of what you do? – Symbolic logos are generally better because they allow for interpretation and broader meaning. Logos that include literal illustrations of products, or distortions of letterforms into products you service or sell can become dated quickly and less memorable due to their complexity.
- Does the logo artwork work well in every application of size or surface? – A successful logo will work well in any application. A successful design allows for readability at any size, on dark or light backgrounds and using any technology whether its in print, online or stitched on fabric.
- Is your logo graphically active? – Is the design graphically engaging? Is there an strong interplay of positive and negative space in the letterforms and symbol? Does the mark suggest action or movement, reflecting the nature of your product or service?
- Is your logo culturally appropriate? – Are there any hidden visual or textual meanings in your logo which can be misconstrued? Do the words have any negative connotations in other languages?
- Does your logo have a corresponding usage manual? – If you have invested years in building your business, you probably have specific standards about what and how you do things. The same applies to logos. At a minimum, you should have basic documentation on proper and improper usage of your logo. These documents should explain the origins and meaning of the logo, and demonstrate proper use of color, typography, spacing, size and application. Larger companies extend these guidelines to detailed design specifications for a multitude of design needs from print and digital documents to online activity, and style usage of the logo when used in written communications.
Even the best companies make sure their logo design evolves with the needs of the brand.
Being consistent about how a logo is applied is important and valuable to your branding. Even so, an evolution of the design will ultimately be necessary. The largest companies in the world who spend millions on building their brands make the decision to update or redesign when the time is right. Here’s an interesting blog by Alex Bigman, a UC Berkeley graduate that traces the logo iterations of the 10 highest valued companies in the world.
The redesign process is an opportunity to reaffirm your company’s leading position or set new standards.
Depending on how your logo measures up to the benchmarks above, you may decide that it’s time for a big change or a simple evolutionary update. Either way, the design update may require market research and focus group study about current perceptions and shed light on goals and opportunities for a redesign.
Beyond the strategic findings research may uncover, the logo design/redesign process might include the following:
- Development of a creative brief outlining goals and outcomes for discussion with client
- Concept development – hand or digital sketching
- Internal design review
- Concept refinement
- Client presentation – review and narrowing of concepts
- Concept refinement – conversion to digital file, design adjustments
- Client presentation – review of color studies, suggested typography, application to various materials, testing and evaluation
- Final artwork and versions for digital and print application
- Development of logo standards and usage guide
What does it cost to design a logo?
It’s important to note that a logo design is not a logo design process. There are many services who simply develop ideas based on a simple brief system and sell you whatever you like. As of this post, one online source I found offers of (6) logo ideas for $49. That’s at half their normal $99 fee. While this may suit someone’s goals, I wouldn’t expect too much in the way of strategic thinking in that price range.
On the other end of the spectrum, fees for a sophisticated logo design process (not to be confused with a branding process) can start in the mid five figures and go up depending on the size of the company, whether it’s public or private, profit or non-profit and scope of the process. What you spend on the process should reflect the amount of energy you devote to developing and delivering a superior product or service. Want to find a reputable design firm? Read our recent post for tips.
About the author: Tom Weinkle is a founder and partner of Vortex Communications, a graphic and website design firm who offers graphic and WordPress web design, build, troubleshooting and training services along with search optimization, social media and inbound marketing services and brand development. Based in Miami, Florida, Tom has over 25 years of experience in visual communications for the healthcare, medical, law, accounting, software, financial services and banking industries.