January 21st, 2014
Your logo is an important part of your corporate identity. In many ways, it is the face of your brand. It is also important to get a logo right because a poor design can hinder your efforts across the board. For example, when it comes to a Website Design project, the logo can in some ways hinder the look and feel of the new layout. The better the site design, the worse a poor logo design will look by comparison and this blemish can spoil the impression your site makes. In short, a company’s logo design is central to its branding, company image, and marketing efforts.
Logo design is a big part of our brand development work here at Brave. We have to make sure that each and every logo we create will add to rather than detract from every single aspect of a company’s branding efforts. As it is a central and ever-present part of a company’s branding, we also have to make sure it encapsulates the company’s unique identity, makes a strong impact on customers and clients, and communicates everything they want their branding to stand for.
To do this, we go through several steps every time we design logos for our clients. These help us to ensure the final result is perfect. That way, we ensure you end up with a great logo design, which will help rather than hinder your other brand development efforts.
In the Beginning…
Logo design is a creative process. Like most creative processes, it has to start with an idea. And as a creative agency, we are big on ideas.
But it’s not as simple as having our logo design team sit around being artsy until they get a flash of inspiration. Company logos have to be functional, so to make sure we design logos that work we have to combine creativity with a technical element. We have to carefully weigh up a range of important factors and questions. These include:
- What is your business like?
- What attributes do you want people to associate with your company?
- What industry are you in?
- Who are your target audience, and what will appeal to them?
- What kind of brand personality do you want to project?
- What sets your company apart from its competitors?
Those are just a few of the factors that have to be carefully and logically considered. In order to help your brand development properly, we need to make sure a logo covers all bases equally. The best way to do this is different for every company, even within the same industry. A dealer of luxury cars will want a very different logo from someone who specialises in affordable used vehicles. The former may want something sleek and modern like the cars they sell, while the latter will want to convey reliability, good value and practicality. A mechanic’s logo design will be very different again.
Once we have formed initial ideas, we will start to sketch out some possible logos. We will probably have a few different ideas for the direction we could take, and try out a few specific designs. This will enable us to really see what works and what doesn’t by having the different options in front of us. After that, it’s time to pick the things that do work and take them forward towards a finished design.
Getting Good Consistency
When we start to flesh out the basic designs and turn them into a complete logo, one of the big things to consider is making sure they look consistently good in every context. Company logos often appear on websites, brochures, letterheads, leaflets and many more places besides. It’s not uncommon for them also to appear in ultra-miniature form on pens and other promotional items. This will require them to be printed on different backgrounds, and at wildly different sizes.
Size is one of the main things we have to consider each time we design a logo. It has to look good when reproduced at big and small sizes alike, and this has a big impact on the design. Small details, fine lines, and fancy gradients may look good at medium size on a computer screen, but they will not work so well when printed at a smaller size for headed paper or a leaflet. They will either disappear completely, or simply look awful.
It is much better to go for a simpler logo design using bold, uniform colour areas. This usually doesn’t really compromise the look of the logo even when used at large sizes. It produces a cleaner, neater look which can look just as good as elaborate fine details. Most importantly, though, it makes sure your logo stays looking good every time you reproduce it.
Having these simpler, neater designs also works well with the printing process. Often a company logo may need to be screen printed, especially on promotional items such as pens and T-shirts. They may also need to work well on a rubber stamp or be embroidered onto a polo shirt. In all these cases, designs with larger, more solid colour blocks and no excessively fine details work far better.
So Simpler Logo Designs are Better?
Yes. And no. Just because a design doesn’t have fine details and gradients, it doesn’t always mean it is simple. Certainly, no design agency should ever deliver a logo design that looks like it could be recreated with shape tools in Microsoft Paint.
That said, as an experienced design agency we have always found it’s still often true that simple logo designs work better. Not always, but often. Unlike a masterpiece painting, you neither expect nor want people to spend time admiring your logo design and taking in all the subtle details. Instead, you want it to make an impact, and quickly convey the right impression about your business. You want it to become a simple and recognisable face for your brand, and be something that people can quickly become familiar with. At Brave, we always design logos that do just that.
On the other hand, sometimes it is possible to be too simplistic. This will often result in a logo that is bland, generic, or just not very distinctive. What do you picture when you think of an “everyman?” Somebody who looks a little bit like everyone, and completely fails to stand out in a crowd? When it comes to brand development, overly simple logos are a lot like that. A company logo like this will not stand out from the competition, and will not make people form any positive impression of the company.
Often, it can take quite subtle creative flairs to turn a bland logo into a good one. If the wording is prominent, a more interesting font can make a huge amount of difference. Unique perspectives, asymmetrical shapes, and substituting sharp corners for smooth curves can all be useful options. Alternatively, adding one extra element to a logo can transform it. A house is a dull and obvious logo for a building firm. Showing different parts of a house in the process of falling neatly into place from the sky, however, is a much more interesting approach to the company’s branding.
The Font of all Wisdom
You know that bit above when we said that choice of font made a huge difference? Well, that sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Just flick through font options until you find one you like, and that’s done.
Well, as any good creative agency can tell you, choosing fonts is a much more complicated process than you think. Apart from making sure it is a font you can obtain the legal rights to use, there are a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle things to consider.
For a start, a font has to look nice on the final page. The words can’t be too close together or too widely spaced. Either option looks untidy and may harm readability. Speaking of readability, any typeface used in a logo design will also have to be clear and easy-to-read, which rules out many very elaborate fonts. People often look at an elegant calligraphy font or an elaborate gothic typeface and think that because it’s impressive, it will look good. Many of these fonts look overly busy and are not easy to read. No company logo should have these problems. It will slow down the impact your logo makes on the customer, and every time the logo is used on company materials it will bring this issue with it.
Secondly, it has to be appropriate to the company. Something fun and quirky could be ideal for anything from a family-run tearoom to a gift company, but it will look far too unprofessional a part of an accountant’s logo design. Similarly, the accountant’s perfect font would probably be a dull and uninspiring as part of a friendly family tearoom’s branding. And “Comic Sans” is not appropriate for any logo. Ever.
When we design logos at Brave, we have to consider all of these things before we settle on a typeface. We ensure that all these problems are avoided, and that the chosen lettering fits neatly with the company while being practical and readable. We bet you never thought typing out the company name could become so complicated.
In Glorious Technicolor
Seemingly simple colour choices can transform the impression a logo design makes on the viewer. If you doubt the importance that people place on colour, just think how many attributes we claim colours have. Reds and oranges can be “warm” or “passionate.” Reds can also be used to suggest blood, making them “scary” or “exciting” depending on the context. Blues are the opposite. They can be “cool,” “cold,” and “calm,” and pinks can be “intimate.” Very bright and unattractive yellows, purples and pinks are even likely to be “offensive.”
That is to say nothing of the more technical attributes that colours have. There is a whole science surrounding the issues of which colours go together, which ones don’t, and which ones can be used for what purpose. Over the centuries, artists have managed to distill this into a set of surprisingly clear-cut rules and characteristics. All these feed into the logo design process.
The use of colour in a logo design isn’t all about arcane knowledge of artistic science, though. There are some more straightforward but equally important things a good creative agency has to consider. For a start, it is usually best not to use too many colours. Usually, this will look busy, overcomplicated, and far from easy on the eye. Sometimes designs with lots of colours can look good, but even then they can create practical problems. They can be difficult to reproduce, and on some materials, this also might make them expensive to print.
We design logos that rely on using colour cleverly rather than using lots of different colours. A few colours, properly used, can be far more effective and much more practical. For instance, we find it is often good to use slightly different shades, rather than the default colour palette that comes with a software package. This makes logos more effective and unique without adding any complications.
There are, of course, some fairly clear-cut rules when it comes to using colours in logo design. Even these should not be taken as complete absolutes, though. It is often about finding a balance. For example, lively and fun logos tend to benefit from bright colours, but it is important not to go so bright that it feels like looking into the sun. Things also have to be considered on the basis of each individual logo. Sometimes, a design creates such a strong impression of fun or liveliness that it’s really not necessary to make the colours too bright.
Shift Into Reverse
Often when we design logos, we produce the finished product in two versions. The regular version will be accompanied by a “reversal.” These are usually used with logos that may not stand out well enough on certain backgrounds. They are designed to ensure maximum versatility and make sure the logo can be used on all kinds of backgrounds.
Simply put, a reversal is a recoloured version of a logo design. Frequently it will use just one colour, which will often be white. Dark- or mid-toned logos will be difficult to view on darker backgrounds, whereas white will stand out much better. To take a simple example, imagine an events company has a logo design mostly made up of dark blue. They want to have the logo embroidered onto black shirts for the staff to wear when working at events. The dark blue logo will be nearly invisible on the black shirt. A white version, on the other hand, will stand out clearly and still be perfectly recognisable as the same logo design. Unless something prompts them to specifically think about it, people probably won’t even consciously take in the change of colour.
Of course, there’s no hard rule saying it has to be all white. When the logo design or the company’s plans are better suited, other light shades or bright colours will work just as well. As long as it will stand out on the backgrounds the regular form of the logo isn’t suited to, the reversal will fulfill its purpose.
Some Design Agencies in the past have been known to use an alternative solution to this problem. They have included a coloured background in the logo to separate it from the background colour of anything it is applied to. However, this approach is strongly not recommended by Brave and most other creative agencies. It may look fine in some contexts such as on clothing, but it looks terrible in others. In short, it solves one problem by creating another.
At Brave Agency, we are experts in every aspect of brand development and logo design. We move carefully through every one of these steps to ensure we design logos that perfectly fit the needs and identity of the company. Our experienced, knowledgeable brand development and logo design teams will work together to create the perfect face for your branding. We design logos that are suitable for every context, can be reproduced, and succinctly capture the essence of your brand and your industry. If you are in the midst in brand development for a new business or thinking of refreshing an existing company’s branding, get in touch with our Peterborough office on 01733 602020.
Alternatively, feel free to head over to our logo design and brand development portfolios. These contain examples of what we’ve done for the branding of other companies in the past, so you can see for yourself what our team is capable of.