Here’s a six-point cheatsheet to help you make better logos in less time. In the last years, I’ve worked on a few projects where I’ve had to create logos for clients. From campaigns to events and even company rebrands. In my short time, I’ve encountered the same commonplace challenges: eliminating complexity (based on an overly extensive have-to-have list), relying on too much colour for effect and keeping it appropriate for all the places it will need to be used (especially online). This week I found myself working on another logo so took a step back to dig out some notes from my studies and reflected on those drafts from the past.
Rule No.1: Keep it black
Eliminating such a powerful visual element as colour from your work may seem a very odd thing to do, especially today when technology allows us to make spectacularly colourful images and prints. And yet, there is no denying that black and white elements possess unique qualities. Building on black makes a logo that is easier to read, reproduce and reconfigure. These all matter when it comes to printing costs, lower-quality screens or scans and even collaborations with others.
Rule No.2: Keep it flat and stay sharp
Effects get dated very quickly. All those options on WordArt were considered cool once, at the dawn of word processing technology, and now they gather dust. Meanwhile, Helvetica is timeless, with the only slight revision in terms of weight and kerning in the last 63 years. Keeping it flat helps with reproduction, screen readability and saves yourself from having to do a refresh in a few years. At the same time, soft edges are good but too much of a good thing never works. Stay sharp, balance out sans serifs, because you want to stand out and be understood in an instance.
Rule No.3: Simplify
Logos can’t be all things to all people so you should not try to appease all people when drafting your concept. It is a well-known joke that a camel is a horse designed by a committee, don’t fall trap to incorporating too many opinions into the design. Don’t let your logo be a camel. Always push to simplify, take a step back and see what can be stripped back. Strip it back and repeat.
Rule No.4: Think volume
Time some time in the drafting process to sit back and plan out all the ways the logo needs to be used. From printing on documents and added to email signatures, to blown up on billboards or shrunk down on social infographics. Logos need to be adaptive to volume, not just work on the Indesign art-board.
Rule No.5: Think in animation
Increasingly you need to do more with logo designs than before. From appearing on videos to GIFs and other small scale animations on webpages. Logos today need to be thought of in animation, have an idea of how the elements of your design will move together. Because chances are the logo will need to move and animation becomes easier and is more engaging,
Rule No.6: Add a final twist
Little bonus rule for you here. Follow the first five and you are good, but add in step six and you are on your way to great. You are trying to transmit and instant understanding of your message, your logo is an elevator pitch for the eyes. Do something a little unexpected but in step with your core identity. A great brand example of this (and all the rules above) is the furniture store Habitat.