What makes a great logo design?

- by Andrew Whittle

What makes a great logo design?

Designing a logo that is effective and delivers the results your business deserves is not a quick and easy process.

Some think a logo can be designed in a day and set aside the lowest possible budget for what some people consider is a quick and easy project “it’s only a small icon or mark, why should I spend much on my logo?”. Your logo may be used small most of the time but it is hugely important to your brand and business. A badly designed logo can damage your business before you even get started. It may miss the mark in terms of conveying the right visual tone of voice or worst still, come across as cheap, do you want prospects to think your work is cheap and not of a high standard. It does not matter if your work is great, if that first impression does not win your prospect over, they will never know how great your business is.

It’s also worth noting that your logo is not your branding. Your logo is the visual identity of your business, the symbol that clients and prospects will identify with your brand, products and services. You brand consists of not only your logo but all the various touchpoint’s your business has with your customers. This includes your marketing literature, website, your colour scheme, fonts, use of photography, illustrations or graphics even down to how you answer the phone and speak to your customers and generally conduct your business. So, as you can see branding is a huge part of your business and one that we will cover in more detail on another blog post.

For now, let’s concentrate on your logo and what it takes to design a successful logo that will work across every aspect of your business and your marketing.

The short and simple answer to designing a great logo is to keep it simple. Think of all the major brands such as Apple, Nike, Microsoft etc… All their logos are simple and have stood the test of time since they were designed. They may have been refined over the years but they have generally stayed the same. Simple logos work and believe it or not, designing an effective logo is one of the most challenging yet exciting aspects of Graphic Design. Reducing a logo down to its most basic form yet convey the characteristics of the brand through colour, typography and icon design is an art form in itself. A logo must work on a large scale such as the side of a building and really small such as a favicon (the tiny icon you see in your web browser when you bookmark a website) at 16px x 16px. This is why your logo must be simple. Complex logos are out because they simply do not scale down.

Examples of great logo design and why they work

Over the years we have worked on some great logos. Here are a handful of logos that have followed our design process.

SDA

We designed the SDA Consulting logo many years ago yet it looks as fresh today as it did when we designed it. SDA Consulting are Construction Consultants and Chartered Surveyors. We took inspiration from the construction industry and designed a cross beam inspired symbol. The straight lines of the beams compliment the blue circle to create a strong dynamic symbol. Blue was used to represent the sky when looking up to a cross beam of a building from the ground. We chose a font that echoed the circle of the symbol to create a uniform style. The symbol works really well when used on social media such as LinkedIn as shown and also really big when used on the back of the stationery.

Happiness Bureau

The Happiness Bureau approached us to design their new logo as their previous logo was simply their name and did not convey the characteristic of their business and brand. Their business is all about making employees happy at work through onsite workshops. This is a great example of how a logo does not have to be complicated and how that one element can be used across your branding. We first started by choosing a suitable font, one that was not too corporate but one that would complement the U. the U lent itself perfectly to the shape of a smile. We angled the U to suggest movement when someone laughs and we added extra grin lines (serifs) to further enhance the smile. The U was then used as a graphic asset across printed material. The U from the logo also works really small as you can see on the web browser favicon.

Now you may be thinking “im not going to be showing my logo on the side of a building” or “anything will do, I just want something to put on my business card!”. You don’t have to be a large company to put our advice into action, even the smallest of businesses should realise the value of an effective logo design. More often than not when we design a logo, it is part of a wider project such as a branding strategy, marketing literature or a website and so we consider every marketing channel the logo will be displayed on.

Another myth about logos is that they must tell a new client exactly what your business is all about

Some people think that if you have to tell someone what your logo is meant to mean, then it fails as a logo design. Again, this is not true. Think of 5 logos and then consider, do they really convey to you what business they represent? 99% of the time they don’t and that’s because it is very rare that your logo will be isolated from the rest of your brand. For example, let’s think about a full page advert you plan to publish, chances are it will include a strong image, headline and sub headline and some bullets or body copy. Now when it comes to an advert the image and headline is doing the work not the logo. Think about your stationery, at this point you are probably already working with your new client. You may be handing out business cards out at a local breakfast networking event, again your business card will display your logo on it but your card will be handed out by you along with a quick introduction about who you are and your business, again let’s remember that this is all part of your branding, you represent your brand, how you dress and talk to prospects. Think about your website, your Home page may work in a similar way to an advert, a strong hero image together with a strong title and positioning statement. So, as you can see, your logo will barley ever be used in isolation.

That said depending on your business the text that is included with your logo design may simply say what you are/do on the tin, such as a B&B or local handyman such as an electrician or plumber.

How much do you value your business?

You will see thousands of websites and business offering logo designs for less that £100. You have to ask yourself, how on earth can you trust your business that you have spent so much of your time getting off the ground with a company offering cheap logo design? We have since it time and time again where a client has been to one of them online marketplaces offering design for cheap only to be presented with a logo that is not suitable for their business, does not scale down or reproduce in print that well and basically fails as a logo resulting in the client having to spend more money. An example of this is when we were asked to design a new digital and print based brochure. We designed a fantastic brochure using the logo supplied but when it came to proof the brochure the blue in the logo did not print the right blue that was used on their website. The reason for this is that whoever designed the logo produced the logo in RGB colour, which is for on screen use only, not in CMYK which is for print. So why do we design in CMYK and not RGB? RGB has a wider array of colours and are usually more vibrant, whilst CMYK has a lower range of colours and so when you convert an RGB image to CMYK, the image usually loses some of the colours and makes the image look dull. So, it’s important to work the other way. Also, a common mistake among younger designers is that they fail to design the logo so that it can work in one or two colours and that the logo can be reproduced in Pantone colours and hexadecimal colours for online use. As you can see there is more to colour than simply choosing a colour, the colour should be accurate no matter how it is being presented.

Our logo design process

Whittle Design Studio adopt a design process that delivers not only great looking logos but a logo that will stand the test of time and work across all of your marketing material and branding. Before we design your logo, we like to get to know your business. What makes it special, where do you want to position your brand in your sector, who are your competitors, what visual tone of voice would convey the right message to your prospects, do certain colours represent your sector, what type of font would suit your business etc… These are all questions we need to answer before we even start on the design of the logo. Without this information, we are designing with no set goals and will result in a poorly designed logo that will not be fit for purpose. More information about our logo design process click here.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help launch your brand or re-brand your existing business, product or service we would love to hear from you. Click here to drop us and email or call us on 01736 811103.