What makes a great logo design? I think it is a combination of technical, strategic and aesthetic factors that combine in just the right way. Often, if the typography was just slightly larger, or the color was just a shade brighter, it wouldn't work. Let's face it—it's difficult to design a smart, successful logo that resonates with an audience. It is elusive and complicated, and you can't always identify why it works. It's much easier to spot a poorly designed logo and know why it's unsuccessful. Below are three suggestions to correct the missteps I see most often.
1. Create your initial logo as a vector file. "Vector" logos, or logos built in Postscript, allow for maximum usage. You can scale the size of vector files greatly without loss of quality or sharpness. This means that the same logo file that looks great on a business card will also look great on a billboard. Also, vector graphics are small in file size. This makes them much easier to manage and share. The bottom line—for print design, a vector logo will always look and act best. Your design agency will typically start with a vector logo, but can provide Web-friendly files from this format also.
2. Design your logo in black and white – at first. It is best to avoid color while in the first round of logo design. If you design a logo that works without color first, you can avoid the possibility of the logo relying on color for its visual impact. This is important because most logos end up being displayed in black and white at some point—in a newspaper or on a fax or copy. Once you do add color, it is best to limit it to two if you can. Too many colors can confuse the eye rather than helping to focus it. Limiting your colors will also save you money during the printing process. Since there is no limitation to color usage on screen, many companies shave been tempted to overuse color in their Web design. Bad design, however, is bad design in any context.
3. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify Overly complicated logos are often difficult to read and understand. This is true even at a large scale, but especially so when reduced in size. And since these complex logos are difficult to really see, they are almost impossible to remember or recognize. Companies often mistakenly perceive their logo as their entire brand platform. Thus, they try to communicate everything about their company in the mark, instead of the essential, overarching qualities. You do need to put a lot of complex thought into your logo behind the scenes, but you do not want the viewer to see that in excessive detail work, color, or font usage. It is best to communicate a company’s brand attributes with a clean, simple logo design.
4. Always consider your logo's size and ratio. As a rule, logos should be recognizable and readable at a quarter inch. At some point, most logos will need to be reproduced at a very small size—on a plastic pen, key chain or usb drive. It is also best if your logo is not overly horizontal or vertical. Most logos will not be a perfect square, but a conservative width to height ratio is ideal. A balanced mark is adaptable, making it easier to successfully place in a variety of layouts.