Exploring the DNA of a Good Logo Design

Logo Design: Exploring the DNA of a Good Logo Design

As soon as you see the iconic swoosh mark, you know you’re looking at a pair of Nike shoes.

When those two golden arches emerge in the distance, you can almost taste McDonald’s trademark fries.

When you see that shiny apple with a perfect bite taken out of one side, a brand association with Apple is engaged and your mind makes an immediate assessment.

Logos are iconic. And they have the ability to conjure up emotions, positive or negative.

A good logo can make a brand relatable or hip.

A bad logo can leave people confused.

A forgettable logo can make a brand invisible to the marketplace.

As a startup or growing small business, designing a compelling logo is one of the most important steps in formalizing your brand and pursuing growth.

The question is, what makes a good logo design?

The Importance of a Good Logo

The Importance of a Good Logo

The purpose of a logo is to help people visually identify your brand and any assets that go along with it. But it goes much deeper than this.

A good logo is important for a number of other reasons, including:

  • A good logo makes an impression. First impressions are everything in the business world. And while we often think of first impressions in one-to-one personal exchanges with other people, they also happen on a consumer-to-brand level. The first time a customer is exposed to a brand, they form some sort of emotional association or connection. It’s either positive, negative, or neutral. A logo impacts these associations and influences first impressions in a significant way.
  • A good logo grabs attention. There’s no doubt that a logo grabs attention. Whether it’s one that’s instantly recognizable – like Nike, McDonald’s, or Apple – or a brand new startup, a compelling logo demands visual interest.
  • A good logo is memorable. When you see a good logo, it becomes seared into your brain. Then when you see it a second time, it instantly feels familiar. And with each subsequent exposure, there’s reinforcement of the underlying message. Big brands are able to create thousands of impressions with individual consumers. Smaller brands might only get a handful each year. Either way, there’s a level of memorability that delivers positive results.
  • A good logo differentiates. It’s easy for customers to get confused in crowded markets. If there are a dozen companies selling widgets that are basically indistinguishable, a logo provides one of the few opportunities for differentiation. A company that has a compelling logo has a much better chance of beating out the competition (when all other factors are created equal).

These are just a few of the reasons. If you were to sit down and discuss the importance of logo design with any Fortune 100 company, their marketing and branding team would be able to explain the nuances of why their logo is so crucial to their respective brand.

And while you might not have a nine-figure business, your logo matters, too. Make sure you’re taking it seriously.

6 Tips for Designing a Good Logo

6 Tips for Designing a Good Logo

There’s no such thing as a perfect logo. There is, however, a clear line of demarcation between bad logo design and good logo design.

Here are a few tips to help you design a good logo for your brand:

1. Keep it Simple

There’s no reason to overcomplicate things by throwing together a dozen different elements and intricate details. Simplicity sells.

Think about it. What do logos like Nike, Apple, McDonald’s, Twitter, IBM, PayPal, Netflix, and Target all have in common?

Simple logos.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find any highly successful business with a complicated logo. They exist…but they’re few and far between. And that’s not a coincidence.

Keep things simple and your customers will find it easier to recognize your brand.

A good graphic designer will want to show off his skills and use as many different design techniques as he can. A great graphic designer understands that more is less and will simplify by cutting out the fat and focusing on the meat. Don’t get wowed by a designer with a complicated design portfolio. Look for the ones who know how to deliver a clear message with minimal visual interference.

2. Go Easy on the Colors

It’s important to think about color psychology and the messages and emotions you’re communicating when selecting certain colors. Here are some common associations with basic colors:

  • Red is associated with danger, war, energy, power, strength, and romance. It’s known to increase heart rate and blood pressure. It also attracts attention by signifying danger.
  • Green is a color of vitality, freshness, growth, and productivity. It’s strongly associated with feelings of calmness, tranquility, prosperity, and sincerity.
  • Blue is a color of authenticity, enthusiasm, and significance. It produces feelings of peace and imagination.
  • Yellow is correlated to happiness, joy, energy, intellect, and cheerfulness. It’s known to stimulate senses and arouse emotions.

The list could go on. But as you can see, every color has the ability to stimulate different emotions. And depending on how you use colors and which combinations you create, you can dictate how people feel about your brand.

A logo should never have more than three colors. And, if you want the truth, using just one or two colors is ideal.

If you decide to use two or three colors, there are some basic guidelines that you should follow. For example:

  • It’s recommended that you work with colors that either oppose one another on the color wheel, or contrast well together.
  • Another option is to use different contrasts of the same color. (Such as a dark shade of blue and a light shade of blue.)
  • Avoid colors that land next to each other on the color wheel, as they tend to clash.

These are pretty fundamental design rules. So if you work with a professional designer, you can expect them to adhere to these principles. But if you’re designing your own logo or working with a relatively inexperienced freelance designer, it’s worth keeping these rules in the back of your mind.

3. Think About Visibility

It’s more important now than ever before to prioritize visibility and visual clarity in logo design. It used to be that a logo was only used in certain places and mediums. Today, it has to be versatile. Your logo might be displayed on a small mobile application thumbnail all the way up to a massive billboard. And it’s wise to consider how your logo will appear on both ends of this spectrum.

This is just another reason to love simplicity. A simple logo is always going to be more visually digestible than a complicated logo. The more complex your design, the more it gets distorted or misinterpreted from afar.

4. Avoid Cliches

Avoid Cliches

There are always trends in graphic design and branding. And though there’s nothing foolish about leveraging design trends to reach your audience, you have to be careful not to develop a logo that will soon become outdated.

Design trends are great for marketing. They’re less helpful in branding. Avoid cliches and instead leverage sound principles in creative and unique ways.

Here are a few cliches to avoid:

  • The arc or swoosh that runs overtop the text of your company.
  • Using basic fonts like Helvetica or Comic Sans.
  • Incorporating a random chat bubble or predictable element above your text.
  • Creating a “hipster badge” or any other widely used logo that you find on Fiverr.

A design trend might give you a hot logo for a few months or years, but you’ll eventually have a dated relic that causes you to cringe.

5. Don’t Invite Too Many Cooks Into the Kitchen

Logo design is a highly opinionated endeavor. It’s a good idea to gather input, but you have to be careful not to invite too many cooks into the kitchen. If you have a dozen people involved in the process, there will always be someone who dislikes a particular element and/or wants to go in another direction.

The best approach is to keep a small team and to then slowly unveil the logo after its almost complete. This gives you a chance to gather some last-minute feedback without opening the floor up for a total redraw.

6. But Do Gather Feedback

Once you have a logo, or a couple of options, gather some customer feedback. (This is far more valuable than the feedback you’ll get from people on your team. Customers are brutally honest and see things through a completely different lens.)

If you have the funds to run a focus group, then you can certainly pull out all of the stops and conduct an official test. Otherwise you can use social media as a pretty effective tool for gathering insights and design-related feedback.

Logo Design Options

When it comes to designing a logo for your brand, you have a long list of options. But it’s easiest to sort them into four overarching groups:

  • DIY design. The first approach is to design your own logo. If you’re a one-person company, this might look like using an online design tool or graphic design software to create a simple logo that you believe in. If you have a larger team, it could look like putting your graphics team on the task and working closely as they develop and iterate logos.
  • Freelance designer. Don’t have any design skills or graphics people on your staff? You always have the option of hiring a freelance designer. With websites like Fiverr and Upwork, you can either find someone you’re interested in hiring or create a project and solicit applications.
  • Competition style. Websites like 99designs allow you to create a project with specific requirements and then have people submit their own work. You can then select the logo that you like best and the winning designer gets paid a set fee. With this option, you basically get to work with dozens of designers without having to pay each one individually.
  • Logo design company. Finally, there are graphic design and branding companies that specialize in logo design. When you work with one of these companies, you get professionalism, one-on-one attention, and the promise that you’ll walk away with a logo that you’re completely, 100 percent satisfied with.

Every brand chooses their own approach to logo design. It’ll be up to you and your team to decide which method enables you to get the best possible design for your larger brand objectives.

The Cost of Bad Logo Design

The Cost of Bad Logo Design

Many people balk at the idea of investing in good design. They feel like it’s too expensive or a waste of resources. But do you know what’s really expensive? Bad design.

A bad logo isn’t just visually off-putting, it’s also quite costly. Consider the following:

  • Direct financial cost. If you design a bad logo, you’ll eventually have to redesign it and replace everything that you previously adorned with your logo. This may include any or all of the following: your website, stationery and print materials, online banner ads, promotional swag, uniforms, building signage, interior signage, vehicle wraps, etc. And according to one branding expert, the total cost can range from $5,000 on the low end to as much as $30,500 on the high end.
  • Intangible costs. Then there are the secondary costs that stem from exposing customers to a poorly designed logo. You only get one first impression and a bad logo delivers a wrong message. The longer you wait to redesign the logo, the more customers you drive away (and the more revenue you miss out on).

Logo design isn’t some shallow, superficial, surface-level element of your business. It’s an integral component that influences every aspect of your organization. Take it seriously, or else prepare for the possibility of negative repercussions from the marketplace.

Partner With DEV.co

At DEV.co, we understand the importance of good logo design as it pertains to every element of your brand.

As the provider of premier custom development services – including websites, mobile apps, and customer-facing platforms – we’re committed to helping our clients maximize the value of their online branding at every touchpoint.

For more information on how we can help you cultivate an online experience that’s visually and functionally conducive to your larger brand goals, simply contact us today!

Ryan is the VP of Operations for DEV.co. He brings over a decade of experience in managing custom website and software development projects for clients small and large, managing internal and external teams on meeting and exceeding client expectations--delivering projects on-time and within budget requirements. Ryan is based in El Paso, Texas.
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Ryan Nead