When we think of branding, we think of a logo – Coca-Cola, Disney, Apple, Nike, Starbucks, these are all logos that are instantly recognisable* – and though your logo is not your brand, it’s definitely an important part.
*I just went back to an old post from the summer, and I listed the same five brands!!
As an entrepreneur or small business, you probably don’t have a huge amount of money to invest in a top creative agency to design your logo and brand identity. Whether you have a big budget or not, however, whether you’re briefing a proper designer or someone on Fiverr or even trying to do it yourself, it’s important that you get this right. Your logo is one of the first things that your potential clients and customers will see – on your business card, on your website – and it’s crucial that it represents you in a professional and meaningful way.
With that in mind, I asked graphic designer Merelina Davies to put together 5 things that you should consider when you’re designing a logo for your business!
5 things to think about when designing a logo
When designing a logo, colour is extremely important. It can convey a tone for your company and a theme for all other artwork including your website.
First of all, rule out colours that could clash with the theme you are creating. For example, red is a very bold colour and is used for speed and energy but it can also be associated with danger. Think about warm colours verses cold colours, and pastels verses bold bright colours.
You may also need to make the logo into a solid one-colour logo for printing in a black-and-white newspaper or putting over the top of a multi-coloured image or stitched onto uniforms. Try to keep the colours to a minimum amount as this helps with the reproduction onto other media as well as cost – for example, a gradient logo is impossible to stitch onto a uniform.
Once you have picked a colour, you can always use tints of the main colour to produce artwork layouts. Colour references are very important to make sure you get the correct colour from every printer and manufacturer: use the same CMYK values or even better you can use a Pantone colour to ensure consistency (but it’s more expensive to print with Pantones).
Don’t make the logo too complicated! Simple designs are the most effective and are cleaner to reproduce on artwork and fabrics. The logo needs to be recognisable from a distance, so a simple shape and bold text would be most effective – though it’s sometimes not possible if you are creating a delicate logo.
Choosing a typeface is extremely important as it can convey a tone for your company. The font you choose for the logo will then affect all your other artwork, such as letterheads and sub-logos if you branch out into different avenues. It can be unreadable, especially if a script typeface is used – for example, the “r” is sometimes displayed backwards on a script font so look out for these things when choosing a font.
I always like to pick a font that has different weights available, so when you’re creating other artwork you can use bold, medium and thin styles while still keeping the same font.
Where it’s going
You may only be designing a logo for a small business now but your company can grow and grow. Your logo can be put on a wide range of digital media, different websites and social media. Think about how it is used on these sites – normally at the top of a page on your own website, functioning as a ‘home’ button. It will become your profile picture on social media sites. You may also need to use it as a ghosted logo to copyright your own images.
You should also consider the print medium and this can be very diverse. Adverts in a newspaper sometimes have limited colour to print your logo and can also be very small, so it has to be readable in an extremely small size.
If your business grows further, you could end up doing billboards, which would mean your logo being used on a really big scale.
You might choose to put your logo on USB sticks (engraved), umbrellas (screen printed), uniforms (stitched), the side of a car (decals) – all these media would require a vector logo with limited colour options.
There are two key formats. First, a vector file, which is made up of paths and can be scaled both very small and extremely big; this is usually made in Illustrator and will have an .ai or .eps file extension. The second option is a bitmap file, which is made up of pixels and doesn’t scale very well. The best way is to create your logo as a vector file and then you can make other formats from here.
You will need a full-colour vector file for print adverts; a black-and-white vector file for engravings or newspaper adverts. A vector file is also used for stickers on the side of a car as the decal company uses the paths to cut around the logo to make the sticker. You can save your vector file as a jpg for use on digital e.g. on websites and social media. You can also save your vector file as a png file so it has a clear background and you can overlay the logo, for example over a photograph.
Another format to consider is both a portrait and a landscape version of your logo. A landscape version works well on a website as it flows along the screen and is easy to read. A portrait version would be best to use, for example, on lanyard staff passes where you want to see it from a distance. If you have both options of a portrait and landscape version, then you can place your logo as clearly as possible on any medium.
Checking and double-checking
It may sound obvious but this point needs to be emphasised! Please check your logo according to the following points:
- Make sure it doesn’t look like anyone else’s logo that is currently being used.
- Put all your competitor logos on a page with your logo in the middle – does it look similar to the others? Does it stand out? Does it look professional? Get a friend to look at them and see which brand they prefer. If you can look more professional than your competitors you can get more business.
- Does it look rude or have subliminal messages? This sounds ridiculous but there are logos out there that haven’t been checked! Does it look like any body part for example – turn it upside down and look at your logo from every angle!
- Is it clear? Can people read it? Do the colours used clash? Check it as well with someone who’s colour blind.
- Can it be seen from a distance? Is it recognisable on both a small and large scale?
Many thanks to Merelina for sharing her insights!
For help with building your brand beyond the logo and visual identity, read more about our brand fundamentals services.