People process your logo in 400 milliseconds - that’s less time then it just took you to read that fact. First impressions are everything. Before consumers know who you are or what you're selling, they have already passed judgment on your logo alone.
Ten years ago, consumers were much more forgiving in their logo judgment. However, in today’s digital landscape - bad logos won’t cut it. In fact, 60% of consumers will avoid a brand with a logo they find outdated or unappealing, meaning you could be losing more than half of your potential customers because of a bad logo.
This is the point where some readers may be thinking, “what makes a good logo? Isn’t “good” subjective?” While consumers do inherently view brand logos as a form of art, subjectivity is not a large part of logo design.
So what can you do to ensure you aren’t falling into the trap of thinking your logo is great, when in reality it could be awful? As a business owner, it is easy to get emotionally attached to your brand as it feels like the face of all your hard work. It is important to stay objective in your branding process and follow industry standards for a successful design. Perhaps after reading these industry rules you only need to tweak your logo, or maybe it’s time for a totally new look - either way, we can help.
According to industry standards, the baseline of good logo designs can answer “yes” to the following six questions:
Our first rule to pass is the most straightforward. Color psychology in logo design is incredibly insightful and interesting - but that’s not what we are here for. This rule is not about what combination or hue of colors you are using - this is more about color placement and simplicity. Say your logo needs to be turned all white and displayed over a black background - would your logo still look good? Recognizable?
A trap some businesses fall into is making the color in the logo a pivotal part of the design. While color can be very important, it is not a wise decision to revolve your entire design around it. Your logo should be easy to interpret without color. A good rule of thumb is to use a logo that has pops of color but ultimately has the same interpretation when forced to be monotone.
Before you fall in love with a logo design, ask to see it in all black over a white background and all white over a black background. This will give you a good gauge of if the logo is flexible in color variation. A good tip our designers follow is to start the logo design process only using black. Once a design is decided on, then we add color. This allows the logo colors to be enhancements, not a make-or-break element of the design.
In order to pass this question, you need to have two things. First, you need the original logo file or at least a high quality vector file. Original design files allow you to export your logo at any size you may need. This means you maintain clarity and precision regardless of what your logo is being presented on. Your logo should be able to quickly go from a one inch PDF to a ten foot PNG.
Secondly, your logo needs to read just as easily small as it does when it's normal size. The most common time this becomes a problem is when designing business cards or letterhead. When your logo needs to be an inch, fine lines and elaborate colors may be lost and the logo will be illegible. Some businesses run into this problem and opt to create a secondary logo for smaller print. This logo usually looks very similar but has a different layout optimized for resizing. While this is one solution that has worked for many businesses, it can be a risk. Too many variations of your logo will quickly lose brand recognition. The ideal solution is to keep resizing in mind during the design process and land on a logo that looks seamless no matter the size.
Stepping away from digitally resizing the logo, this rule is about readability within the design. If someone is driving past your logo on a billboard, will they be able to read it and process what it says successfully? The most common reason logos fail to pass this rule comes down to font choice or overcomplication of the design.
Fonts, in almost every form of design, are the biggest slippery slope to watch out for. With hundreds of default fonts to pick from, there is no shortage of unique fonts to choose from. While some of these fonts will make your logo stand out, legibility has to come first. The more artsy or handwritten a font is, the more likely that it is difficult to read. Always test your logo on fresh eyes to see if anyone has trouble deciphering your name. If your current logo is causing your business to be mispronounced or misunderstood - it may be time to give us a call.
Overcomplicating or overcrowding a logo is another common mistake in logo design. Creating too many lines or abstract shapes will quickly distract from the company name. Any visual elements used within your logo should be thought of as enhancements and used sparingly. You may be tempted to keep adding elements to your logo in fear of it looking too plain. However, when it comes to logos - think concise and clean.
If you think of brands such as Apple or Pepsi, you can clearly picture what their logo looks like. These logos have a distinct visual takeaway that allows consumers to recall the brand based on a certain color combination or icon. In this case, a minimalistic apple or a tri-colored circle. Your brand may not be to the likes of Apple or Pepsi yet, but for a moment pretend that it is - what part of your current logo would be the distinguishing feature?
Struggling to think of one? We see that it is frequently overlooked in logo design. Stripping your logo down to one simple visual can be very difficult. In fact, many people can’t even pull one viable element from their current logo. If this is you, it's time to rethink your logo. Having a visual takeaway gives your audience a quick visual representation of your brand they can latch onto. This increases brand recognition and authority while also expanding your visual marketing options.
As we near the end of the list, it is important to not get fixated on the previous steps. Over-thinking the logo or making it “perfect” according to a set of guidelines may cause you to lose the voice of your brand. Even if a logo follows all the prior rules, it can still be a bad logo if it fails to accurately portray your business. The symbols, colors, and fonts should all work together to represent what service or product your business offers. This portrayal can be abstract, minimalistic or right on the nose; regardless, the final design should compliment what it is you are offering.
Obvious symbols and colors related to your business should be fairly easy to incorporate, but you can also take this rule one step further. Finding a clever way to incorporate nods to your industry or your business mission into the logo is a great way to add a personal touch. Take the Hierographx logo for instance - do you notice the hidden web symbols within the logo? The mouse icon is the easiest to spot but there are actually 3 more hidden within the logo: The “E” is a hamburger menu icon, the “G” is a refresh symbol and the “X” is the common close window/tab symbol.
Before beginning any design process, our design team always looks into local and global competitors. Doing some research on competition can give you many helpful insights into design direction and standards within your particular industry. It is also a great way to keep a pulse as to how on trend or outdated your branding is. If a potential customer Googles a service within your area and you are the only one with an outdated, unappealing logo - you’ll get overlooked.
Think of your logo as upkeep - over time it may need some maintenance in order to evolve with the changing demands and trends within your industry and the design world as a whole. While some logo designs are more timeless than others, the typical lifespan of a logo is 5-10 years. Giving your branding an occasional refresh will give your marketing an active appearance and ensure you are up to competition standards.
If this article has you thinking you need a new logo, you are probably right. Don’t panic - rebranding doesn’t happen overnight. Whether you need a professional opinion on your logo, want a new logo designed or desire an improved branding strategy, we have the team to help!