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Designing a Logo: The Dos and Don’ts

March 16, 2023 In Design

As a commercial printing company, we’ve come across thousands of different brands in our 90-year history. In that time, we’ve learned a lot about what makes an effective logo – and what’s not-so-effective. Whether you’re branding your new business or refreshing an existing logo, we’ll give you some important dos and don’ts to keep in mind that you might not consider otherwise.

DO: Research competitors’ logos.

Before you get started designing your new logo, it’s often helpful to review your competitors’ logos to get a feel for what already exists in your industry. If you’re struggling to get started on a design, you can look at the most successful businesses in your industry and glean some ideas from their branding. They might utilize a particular strategy that you can riff on for your own logo.

Additionally, you can look for ways to make your brand stand out from the others. For example, in reviewing your competitors, you might notice many of them use the same color scheme, font, or logo style. Instead of following suit, you can purposely design your logo to differentiate your brand from others in the industry and catch more consumers’ attention.

DON’T: Add too many colors.

Color is one of the most important elements of your logo design. According to the Institute for Color Research, up to 90% of a person’s first impression of a product is based on color alone. The colors you choose can also help communicate your business’ core values or general industry.

However, it’s important to strategically choose just two or three different colors to represent your brand. Including additional colors in your logo can make the design look cluttered, especially when translating it onto different media. Additionally, as a rule of thumb, you want to choose a few distinct features to emphasize to make it easier for the audience to remember your brand. A simple yet strong color combination – for example, yellow and red – can help your logo become more memorable.

DO: Match the tone of your industry.

While we’re talking about color, it’s important to note that your color palette, font family, and overall design should make sense for your company’s industry. As we discussed earlier, you do want to stand out from competitors, but you also want to communicate an appropriate tone and overarching message to your audience.

If your business provides professional services, it may be important to advertise your company’s reliability or security in your logo, perhaps with a blue or green color scheme paired with a traditional serif font. Brands that sell products to a younger audience might choose to use a more modern sans serif font and a warm, friendly color like yellow. You can find a more detailed breakdown of which fonts are most appropriate for different industries here

DON’T: Include minute details.

When creating a logo, it can be tempting to add in as many unique design details as you can to make your brand stand out. Unfortunately, adding intricate details can make the logo difficult to scale up or down for different uses. For instance, shrinking the logo to fit on letterhead will likely distort any small embellishments, while scaling it up to fit on banners or signage can make detailed textures look grainy or deformed. These elements might seem eye-catching at first, but ultimately, they can take away from the overall effect of your design.

Instead, try to focus your logo on a few large, key design elements. The simplicity will make it easy to apply in different scenarios, and actually make your brand more effective with consumers. Simple logos are typically easier for your audience to recognize, and 77% of consumers make purchase decisions based on brand recognition (Crowdspring).

DO: Make a memorable reference.

While it may not be the best idea to add heavily detailed design elements, it is smart to use your logo to make a clever reference to your company name or industry. Consider FedEx’s wordmark logo as an example. It’s one of the most well-known brands in the US, in part because it makes creative use of negative space to form a forward arrow in between the letters E and X.

This subtle nod to their industry is effective because it enhances FedEx’s brand message without distracting from the rest of the logo. When kept simple, clever references can catch consumers’ attention, makes them smile, and help them remember your brand in the future.

DON’T: Combine your image and typography.

Once you’ve chosen the perfect icon and font for your company name, the next important decision is how to combine the two into a packaged design. As you weigh your options, you’ll want to consider keeping a bit of space between your icon and wordmark. The goal is to create a cohesive logo while also giving your brand the option to use the icon entirely on its own.

Using a strong, standalone icon has helped many companies increase their brand recognition. Brands like Nike, Apple, and Target are now instantly recognizable by just their icon. A brand icon also gives your company more flexibility and versatility in how you present your brand in different scenarios. You can still include your wordmark for more formal or official usages, but you also have the option to feature just the icon for more casual marketing opportunities, such as social media posts or sponsorships.