6 things to consider when designing your company logo
This article isn’t really about logo design itself. “But isn’t that what you do?” I hear you cry. Well, yes it is, but I view these tips more as practical things that need to be broached with any logo design, but that aren’t the creative design itself. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.
For the purposes of this post, I’ve quickly designed a logo for a made-up brand, purely to be able to demonstrate the points I want to make. The brand is called ‘This & That’ and they make ‘stuff’.
The basic logotype
It’s good to start with a clear statement of your company name. Choice of typeface is imperative, but depending on whether your business is a slick technical company, or a local florist appealing to a very different audience, this is a whole other stage of the design process (see our Marketer’s Guide to Typography). Above all, make sure it’s legible and isn’t awkward or difficult to read.
Strapline tied to a logo
A number of years ago it was fairly standard to have a company strapline tied to a logo. Nowadays however, bearing in mind the digital world, there’s so many more places a logo has to appear, other than the company stationery and the side of a vehicle.
Consider where your logo has to be applied and whether a strapline wedded to the logo is practical. Many brands choose to have two versions of their logo, one with and one without the strapline. One thing that hugely impacts whether the strapline can be used, is how small the logo is to appear. At a small size, a strapline wedded to a logo will become illegible. Good brand guidelines should demonstrate a minimum size at which a logo with a strapline can be applied successfully.
Another solution is to use the strapline separately to the logo itself, such as at the bottom of a company letterhead in a short line on its own.
If you choose to use a strapline, our advice would be to have it written by or at least checked over by a professional copywriter with branding experience. (Our strapline for This&That is purely for demo purposes. We’re not pretending it’s a D&AD contender or anything!)
Icon or no icon?
A logo without any form of icon is called a logotype (as in the first This&That example). Some logotypes are beautiful and timeless (think Sony, Sainsburys, John Lewis & Coca-Cola). Some logos also have some form of icon. These often take an element from the original logotype (think Facebook and its ‘F’ icon). I’ve done a similar thing above with the two ‘T’s from This&That, creating a simple icon which links with the original logo.
The advantages of an icon, is that it can be used in isolation in situations where the full logo would be illegible. A good example of this is on Twitter, where your logo or avatar needs to fit inside a small square. Social media is so important for brand building today, and an icon is the perfect fit for this kind of profile.
Sometimes, if the logo lacks the inclusion of an icon, it’s a good idea to create a distilled version that will fit into a small avatar format. (See examples in our brand work for Planning Ventures and Disability at Work).
Use of colour
Colour brings life to a logo and to a brand. You can choose simplicity with one or two colours, or go for a multicoloured logo. One thing to remember when thinking about colour is to bear in mind where your logo will be used. In an online scenario, the world is your oyster, as long as you check that the colours work well in RGB colour format. In print however, things need more thought. There can be subtle differences in how colours look, between RGB format for screen and CMYK or Pantone colours for print. Often RGB colours appear a lot brighter on screen than CMYK colours appear in printed materials. Single colour Pantone colours can also appear brighter than their CMYK equivalents in some instances – especially with bright oranges and vibrant greens.
Take a look at the image below to see how different an orange printed in a single Pantone colour (on the left) can look from its 4 colour equivalent (on the right).
If you’re creating a brand using one of these bright colours as your dominant colour, you may consider printing stationery using 5 colours to allow use of a single Pantone for your bright hero colour. Bear in mind this will add to cost, in comparison with CMYK digital print.
In thinking about logo application, also think about promotional products such as pens and key-rings where the small size of a colour logo might hinder reproduction quality, especially if your logo uses complex gradient colours.
The logo might reproduce better if gradients aren’t used, or maybe you have a version where the two colours are split into flat graphic areas, such as the example below.
At the end of the day, as well as the colours in your logo representing your business the way you want it to (see our article on colour emotion), legibility and clarity is key, so talk to your designer at every stage about this, especially at the end stages where logos will be provided to you for use on your website and in print situations.
Lack of colour
Less important in todays’ digital world, but still worth thinking about are black only and white only versions of your logo. Your designer should show these options at the design stage to include in your final logo suite.
Choice of typography versus cost
In the example This&That logo I’ve used the typeface Museo Sans Rounded, in two different weights. If this were a real brand, I would recommend to the company that they use the same typeface across all their customer-facing marketing, as well as internal comms.
As a creative agency, it’s against the terms of the original licence agreement for me to just ‘give’ the client the font, as the licence that came with the font when I purchased it only allows for my use. If the This&That client wanted to use the font, they would have to purchase it so that they could licence it for their own use. Cost would depend if they wanted to use it on their website as well as internal applications and how many staff they wanted to allow to use it.
Many fonts now are available for free, but you or your designer must check that they are free for Commercial Use.
So that really is a whistle-stop run down of some things to consider during a logo design process. There are many more nuances to bear in mind in a full brand such as secondary colour palette, illustration and photography styles. A well-designed brand guidelines document should also cover the rules we’ve talked about in this post.
If you’re a new business who needs a brand or an existing business looking for a brand refresh, then please get in touch, we’d love to help out.