The concept of a graphical logo is one of the most impenetrable mysteries to those without design training. There are so many misconceptions about logos out there, and they’re plainly evident by browsing company listings. There could be an award show once a year for “worst logo mistakes.”
An amazing 96% of all small businesses fail within ten years. It would be silly to claim that these are all because of a bad logo – but wrong identity branding is certainly a crucial area where it can all begin to fall apart!
Here’s six commandments of contracting your company logo:
1: This is the worst time to cheap out!
We all know the small business start-up who says “My nephew knows Photoshop, I’ll have him whip something up for free!” Bad idea. Your logo is your company identity; it’s your customers’ introduction to your whole business experience. The last thing you want to do with your logo is tell your customers that you skimp on quality. Many laymen will object: “But it’s just a few lines, why should it cost so much?” There’s the designers’ training, experience, and expertise going into those few lines.
2: Listen to your designer.
Speaking of “expertise,” logo designers hear a constant litany of customers with misdirected ideas about what their logo should be. Instead, you should start out with your designer by describing your business, your ideal customer base, and your intended position in the market. Your logo should carry all of that information, telling your customer what product or service you offer, whether you’re the right business for them, and what scale (price / quality) to expect. Remember, they’re not designing to please you; they’re designing to please your customers.
3: Keep it simple.
Look at the logos widely regarded as the top designs of all time. Notice a trend? They are all as simple as humanly possible. In most cases, the top corporate logos are nothing more than a distinct font. Those that incorporate graphics tend to go for the simplest possible shapes. Look at Disney: Three circles and you have a mouse. The trend, especially with neophyte eCommerce entrepreneurs, is to make something as detailed and busy as possible. This is a logo, not a cartoon, a movie, or a painting.
4: It should scale.
This follows from the above point. It is important that your logo’s art be versatile and transferable to any medium at all. It should look just as good on a billboard as it does on a business card, and it should be consistent whether it’s a tiny icon on a phone screen or embroidered on a baseball cap. For this reason, professional graphic designers always deliver a logo in SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) format.
5: It should be timeless.
This is one of the biggest reasons we say “Listen to your designer.” When you come to a designer with ideas about your logo based on something you just saw, chances are it’s either a tired cliché or a trendy fad of the week that will fizzle out within one month. The second-last thing you want your logo to say is “We didn’t think this through more than a week ahead.”
6: Get it in monochrome black.
Of course, you can pick out colors for your design. Most logos do have a distinct color scheme. The secret is that the color is the last thing a designer picks; in fact, this is your area to have complete freedom. The designer often doesn’t consider color at all. The point here is that, since logos should scale and be timeless, they should attend more importantly to their exact shape. Logos which only look good in two or more colors are bad logos, because they will have many situations where the exact color scheme doesn’t come through.
Don’t overthink a logo, but trust a professional designer to know exactly how much expression to put into it. Logo design is one of the arts where the most consideration goes into the least detail. A good logo design speaks little, but says much.