Last month I covered key factors that make a logo effective; this month I’ll complement that thinking by mentioning some common mistakes and practices to avoid in logo design. (If you missed last month’s post you can read it here on the Bondepus blog.)
Computer gimmicks—Avoid computer tricks, filters, and even transparency in a logo. Since many filters become dated quickly and end up looking cheesy, using them shows a lack of savvy design. Even big-time professionally designed logos can reveal this mistake. For example, I once had to add AT&T as a sponsor on the back of a non profit’s T-shirt. For budget reasons it was a one-color screen print, the logo, which had a transparency, does not print one color. That left us no choice but to eliminate the globe and use just the name.
Too complicated/too many elements—A busy logo is an ineffective logo. Use just one, or at most two, graphic identifiers.You want to communicate the core traits of the business as simply and focused as possible.
Dated font—To ensure that your logo lasts at least 10 years, perhaps decades, avoid fonts associated with a certain era. Using a font that was trendy in the ’70s or ’90s will date a company’s “new” identity from the start. That said, it can be appropriate when your company’s brand is retro or throwback, say, Restoration Hardware or Stephen Starr’s Jones restaurant. Bottom line, use a font that fits the characteristic(s) of the brand.
Hard to read font—With surprising regularity people (even designers!) pick a font that is busy, unruly or so hip that it’s hard to read. Cleverness aside, it’s never smart to block the viewer from reading the company’s name. Make it easy for them. Few logos are so fascinating that people will actually work through a puzzle just to read who a company is. They are busy and they will focus on more important things.
Pictures—There are exceptions but as a rule, images (photos) do not scale up without quality loss. Resolution will be a never ending concern. Because a company’s logo goes on so many diverse communication pieces, make it flexible and use vector-based software such as Illustrator or Corel Draw.
Avoid trendy colors—Never choose a color based on trendiness; and if you can’t resist a color that happens to be trendy, make sure it captures the mood and personality of the business. There are ways to apply color that won’t go out of fashion.
Using an unedited piece of clip art—You can’t own something you buy and place alongside your name. It’s not unique to your business if it’s for sale to the world, meaning that you can’t own, protect, copyright or register it with the Patent and Trademark Office. And when you find the company next door using it in their logo, there’s nothing you can do about that.
Unbalanced—The symbol of the logo should not overwhelm the name of the company. If you make the symbol twice the size of the name, you lose the critical balance. Given equal weighting, though, the eye will take both in equally. Since they both represent you, allow people to see both as a unified whole in order to build recognition.
If you’d like to learn more, we’d love to chat further on this topic so central to our work. Give us a call or email. Next month I’ll revisit some of our marketing and branding experiences—things you and I see every day—but look at them differently.
-Gary Epis & Amy Bond