Logo design is one of the most difficult design processes to master, but is also one of the most crucial assets to a company’s brand. An effective logo design, much like any other type design, can be completed using a variety of different methods. Upon reading this article, you’ll gain a greater understanding of what to keep in mind throughout the entire logo design process.
1. Know the Brand
Knowing the Brand starts off the list because it is absolutely the most important tip. Regardless of aesthetic value, a strong logo is only successful because it captures the tone and message described by the brand it was created for.
When first approached for a logo design, try to get as much information about the company and company culture as you can. Pay attention to not only what the company actually does, but also the why behind the business. Ask for a mission statement, and really get to know the business on a deeper level. Figuring out the company culture can be surprisingly helpful when trying to understand the brand.
Nothing is faster or more versatile than paper and pencil when it comes to exploring ideas and developing concepts for logos. When you’re first sitting down to think of a design, it’s imperative that you have a sketchbook handy to jot down any ideas that pop into your head. This not only helps you remember the randomly inspired idea you got while commuting to work yesterday, but it also allows you to immediately get a realistic idea of what your thoughts look like on paper.
Here’s a link to Field Notes Brand, some of my favorite sketchbooks. I highly recommend them.
3. Keep it Simple, yet Unique
Simple logos prove over and over again that they are the strongest, most lasting marks around. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly easy to overcomplicate a logo in the design stage. Overcoming this takes a firm understanding of the balance between simplicity and eccentricity, and knowing when to quit. The most powerful logos today are instantly recognizable, yet remarkably simple thanks to achieving that balance.
As you can see, none of these logos would take more than 15 minutes to recreate, but likely took months to conceptualize and perfect. They are as basic as they come, yet each have a unique shape or feature that pulls them away from genericness despite their simplicity.
4. Apply Gestalt Principles
Gestalt theory was developed by German psychologists in the 1920’s. The theory explains how viewers subconsciously group together separated objects to perceive a coherent whole. You may have heard the phrase, “The whole is other than the sum of its parts” once before. That is a reference to Gestalt theory. If you take several different shapes and arrange them using one of the methods described by the Gestalt principles, your completed design will appear more complete and pleasing to the viewer.
There are six basic gestalt principles: similarity, continuation, closure, proximity, figure/ground, and symmetry. Each one has a unique way of achieving what Gestalt theory describes and each one can generate some very strong marks. Although, using Gestalt theory is certainly not a requirement to logo design. It’s simply a guideline for creating more appealing artwork.
Check out the examples below:
For a more detailed explanation on Gestalt theory, check out The Gestalt Principles.
5. Choose Colors Wisely!
Color is crucial to powerful logo design. Color can dictate a brand’s tone and message just as strongly as shape can. It is not a purely superficial choice. Colors are each evocative of different emotions within humans. For example, reds evoke energy, passion, and the like, while blues have more of a calming presence that evoke characteristics like trust, peace, and intelligence.
When creating logos, you should always start with a color scheme that you feel best represents the brand you’re working with based on the psychological effects of color. Sometimes, that can be just varying shades of one color, other times, designers will use up to five colors and beyond. Although, it’s usually best to stick with one to three.
Adobe provides an excellent tool for creating color schemes over at Adobe Color.
6. Balance, Proportion & Symmetry
Achieving balance in logo design is a task that may require some long nights of planning, manipulating, and adjusting, but is extremely important to the logo design process.
Let’s take a look at the twitter logo:
This is a very well-balanced mark. There’s no area that appears too large or too small in contrast to the others, and the weight of the logo is evenly distributed among its parts. In this particular case, the way the bird is angled, the distance and angle at which the wing extends, and the curve of the bird’s body all work together to give this logo stability.
7. Expect to Fail
For every strong logo a designer creates, there’s a massive pile of concepts that were banished to the logo graveyard in the process. Nobody is so good at design that they can just sit down and bust out a beautiful, timeless logo that conveys exactly what it needs to right off the bat. Failure is inevitable, and failure is what makes us better. Embrace it, learn from it, and don’t be afraid to start fresh if you need to.