Throughout my career as an art director and graphic designer, I’ve noticed a number of common mistakes business owners continuously make when establishing their brand identity. The first mistake is that people think creating a brand should be fast and cheap, other pitfalls are varied and expansive, from choosing an inappropriate business name to hiring an amateur logo designer.
Designing an effective, timeless logo when you first start your business is time and money well spent. Besides you will want to still be in love with it in five years time. The strongest logo designs are often simple and classy. Here are four elements to ensuring your logo design is powerful, iconic and timeless.
In your brainstorming process dream up all the crazy, wild, visual ideas you want, but don’t try to include them all into your logo. Look for some simple yet strong themes. One will always be better than the others. Focus on one idea that speaks to the key personality of your brand. Keep the icon clean and simple. The more complex the design, the faster it will date. So it’s best to keep it simple. This will bring focus, impact and an identifiable image which can be easily recognized as your brand grows. So dream, share all your inspiration with your logo designer, then stylize.
Fonts are like ball gowns — the day you pick it out, it feels, fits and looks perfect. Then a few years later you look at it and say, “What was I thinking?” You’d be surprised how often that happens with fonts. How can you avoid this eventual regret? Stick with classic, well-crafted fonts. Even if you are branding an earth-moving company, I promise your logo can still be classy and on brief. Using effects like bold or semi-bold can change the personality of a font, keep it subtle with typographic creativity. You do not necessarily need to use a decorative font to tell your story. In fact, in my experience, it’s the decorative, trendy fonts that date faster.
Packaging the logo is the process of determining how you want the icon and text to sit with one another. This generally dictates the ‘shape’ the logo will take overall. You have many options here, including having an icon with the text below it; two words broken up with an icon inserted between them; icon only; text only; a circular layout with words wrapped around the icon; or a square-shaped package with text stacked neatly on top of each other.
The package will make a huge difference in how the logo can be used and often will heavily influence the quality of your branding moving forward. Long words with an icon positioned above can make the icon appear small and lose impact. Inversely, the icon tends to appear awkward if enlarged and the text is too small below it. Probably the most important factor with regard to how the logo is packaged is that it is clearly readable and versatile. Think signage, business cards, labels, trucks, everywhere you will use your logo. It needs to work.
When designing your brand, it is usually best practice to stick to a small palette of one main color, possibly a minor secondary color, and then one neutral color. Neutrals are colors like black, white, grey, cream, and beige. A big tip here for small businesses, as strange as it might seem, is to avoid black. One hundred percent black rarely looks classy. If you want to use black as your neutral, choose 98 percent black, as that takes that shiny, tacky look out of it.
When choosing a main color, explore all the different shades of the color you like. If you end up selecting a bright color, a trick to making it timeless is then going for a slightly muted version of it, this will always bring a more stylish flavor to the brand. Grassy greens, for example, can always look better with a tint of black, yellow or white without losing their impact. Color can be personal, but with a little professional attention, you can have your cake and eat it too.
Overall, small business logos can be very effective and powerful when the main elements are in sync. But they are also very easy to get wrong. Most people are all excited at the early phase of their business, and get very attached to the creative process of their logo, which sometimes can be detrimental to the outcome. Make sure you work with an experienced logo designer, it will make all the difference, and use these tips as a guide for your own creativity and decision making process when settling on the future of your brand.
Here’s to your success. Be inspired!