A logo is not a spontaneous decision. You will use it everywhere for years, hopefully. It needs to be thought through but there are design factors that need to be considered. Some clients will bring a logo they had created by another company. We get a big zip file with all of the variations – full color, reversed, light, dark, all white on transparent, all black on transparent in every file extension and resolution. This is GREAT! Some come with a document that lays out the logo – calling out the colors – RGB (online), CMYK (print) and hexdec for online, as well. This is also great and necessary. What’s missing though, is the thinking and purpose behind the logo. The messaging, what that logo will say to people seeing it, or not seeing it very well in the case of those with visual impairments. We’ve covered the need to consider color schemes, contrast, in order for everyone to be able to see your content, your graphics, your branding; so I’m going to talk about the thinking behind logos before you shop for the great package bargain.
Questions to ask yourself and decision makers, and points to consider when hiring someone to create your logo or creating it yourself.
- For the “mark” what do you want that item to say about your company?
This is your opportunity to introduce your company, culture, values quickly. Are you compassionate, strong, shaking up tradition, detailed to a fault, lighthearted, solemn and serious?
- Is there a back story that is part of your company culture you want incorporated into your logo?
I created a logo for a client once that wanted to show how detailed they were at never missing and pieces of processing forms for insurance companies and claims. They also wanted to show that they integrated with all of the vendors and providers related to the patient’s care. They wanted to avoid medical symbols, overdone caring hands, hearts, and have a clean mark that was three dimensional to show their nimbleness at adapting to ever changing regulations. That’s what I mean about a story.
- What are the three services your company provides that are your signature services?
Does your mark convey any of them? Does it completely go against them or leave people thinking you could be a pizza company or an investment firm?
- What are three single words that describe your company’s level of quality and service?
This is your core that all branding should check back to. They services and products your provide support the core ideals.
- What color schemes are typical of your competitors? What colors are you partial to that would go along with your messaging?
If everyone in the governance space is using navy and gray, what will happen if you added livelier colors? How will your audience perceive those colors? Colors mean different things internationally. If you are a global company, check to see what the colors you are considering may imply in different cultures.
- Who is your audience?
Demographics, country, culture, hobbies, expertise, needs – all of this will affect the image you are creating to appeal to them immediately as a potential solution and as a company that understands the problem they need to solve.
- Can the design look great very small and very large – say on a Jumbo-tron or bus?
I’ve seen logos so detailed that once you make a thumbnail version of them, they cramp up and you can’t distinguish the elements in the mark, the colors, or even the words. Have you ever seen a business card design and it’s your full screen, and it looks great. But when you make it the actual size the phone number is so small you need a magnifier? Same with logos. The impression needs to be clear HUGE on a bus driving by you and on a small icon around 150 pixels wide.
- Will you ever want to animate your logo for impact – opening a video, ad, presentation?
If you know you’ll want to show movement, are there elements of your logo that can be “built” quickly as it’s loading? This is one of the few times I advocate for tiny geometric elements. Try to avoid being vague. You don’t want your logo to “remind” people of something annoying like Liberty Mutual commercials.
- Are you planning on being able to add your logo to shirts, hats – things that are embroidered?
This goes with the last item of tagline and no tagline. If you have a lot of words in your logo, it may not be legible on a hat or team shirt if it’s embroidered. It may not matter to you, but it is fun to have the option to print and send out merchandise to your team, clients, vendors with your branding. Make it so it’s not ugly, and they’ll WANT to wear it. I have one client with a REALLY old school type of WordArt logo. It’s easy to read though, recognizable and they are so proud to be part of this organization they order entire wardrobes for conferences with the logo. Funny story about our local AAA team, The Hillsboro Hops. The team is only 10 years old. When they first got a bunch of items printed their first season – for the fans, someone didn’t proof it. The “hops” were upside down. The mistake was caught, but not before the rabid fans turned the mistake into a cult group of fans, “The Angry Artichokes” and they have a set section in the stands.
- Are you thinking of trite graphics, images that everyone does – a house for a realtor, etc. or are you thinking about your brand – what you do that is unique?
- Think about type faces – serif vs. sans-serif Times New Roman is serif. Helvetica and Arial are sans-serif.
If you have a name and tagline, you can select one of each. But be careful about mixing fonts. How are those fonts used typically? Yes, ComicSans is easy to read, but unless you have a business specifically targeting young children or their parents, you will appear either unqualified or condescending using it for your logo. Test many combinations. AND if you use a type face, make sure you have the license to use it for your branding. Just because it’s downloadable for free, doesn’t mean you can use it.
- Don’t go too wide, consider white space, upper/lowercase, how it will look in a square as a social icon.
- Don’t forget about contrast, please.
Make it easy to read, even without reading glasses. Orange on green is bright but very difficult to read. Gray on black – same thing. Go to the Adobe color wheel and mess with color combos. And check the colors here to make sure before you fall in love.
- Get a version with and without your tagline for various uses.
If you want help with your logo or helping you direct whomever is making it for you, let me know.