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Logo Design Principles

Here I discuss the principles of logo design so that you can create good logos.

Memorable

Good logos are memorable logos.

To be memorable, a logo should be as simple as possible and relevant.

To test whether your logo is memorable, show it to someone, then take it away and ask them to draw it for you or describe it to you.

Recognisable

Distinctive

A logo needs to be distinctive to get noticed. It should have something unique, unexpected or out of the ordinary.

There needs to be something that makes your logo out of the ordinary and distinctive.

It helps to come up with something original, avoiding logo clichés such as a globe for a telecoms company.

Simple

A logo should be as simple as possible so that people can easily recognise and remember it.

Once you have the final logo, nothing could be taken away from it, and nothing needs to be added to it.

Readable

A good logo is readable! There is no point using a fancy typeface if no-one can read it!

Listen to the Customer

If you are designing a logo for someone else, remember to listen carefully to their brief.

Appropriate

A logo needs to be appropriate for the business. This means conveying the right message and feeling.

Note however, the logo doesn't have to show what a business sells or offers, e.g. a computer manufacturer's logo does not have to show a computer. The logo's function is only to give the company an identity and not explain all its business activities. It is only by association with a business or corporation that a logo takes on any real meaning.

Personality

A logo designer should have a sense of what the company wants its personality to be, and reflect this in the logo. A logo stands for who the company is.

Establish the company traits and values that you want the logo to convey.

Versatile

Logos need to work both when they are very small, e.g. on a keyring, and very big, e.g. on a billboard. Logos need to scale well. For this reason, a logo should be created as a vector graphic, which can easily be scaled. Popular software to do this is Adobe Illustrator.

A versatile logo will work in black and white even if it is commonly used in colour.

A logo should be able to work when printed in reverse, i.e. it can work on both light/white backgrounds and dark/black backgrounds.

To create a versatile logo, begin designing in black and white only. This allows you to focus on the shape and concept, and avoids the subjective nature of colour.

Timeless

A good logo will be able to stand the test of time. This means using fonts that will age well and avoiding design fads.

Typography

Bespoke typography, e.g. the Cadbury logo, is a good way to convey tone of voice and give your logo a personality. It will also make your logo unique as unlike with a common font, no-one else will be able to use the same typeface.

Rounded typefaces - Feminine.

Jagged and angular typefaces - dynamic, aggressive.

Shapes and Lines

Circles and ellipses - Convey friendship, relationships, unity and community.

Rings - Imply marriage and partnership, suggesting stability and endurance.

Straight lined shapes - Strength, reliability, accuracy, professionalism and efficiency.

Squares - Stability.

Triangles - Masculine, science, law.

Vertical lines - Masculine, strong, aggressive.

Horizontal lines - Tranquillity, calm.

See also the psychology of logo shapes.

Create as a Vector Graphic

A logo should be created as a vector graphic as this will allow you to scale to logo when necessary.

Adobe Illustrator is commonly used to create vector graphics.

Aesthetically Pleasing

The best logos look well balanced and in proportion, and may have some symmetry. All of this adds up to an aesthetically pleasing logo.

Typeface Complements Graphic

If your logo features text as well as a graphic, then the text typeface should complement the graphic. E.g. if you graphic is modern and clean then your typeface should be too.

Videos

The video below by Will Paterson is also useful.

Further Reading

7 Principles of Kick-Ass Logo Design by Meg Hoppe on the HubSpot blog.

Paul Rand on Logo Design

Related Keywords:

Logo design tips

Logo design process

How to create a logo

 





 




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