Does YOUR Logo Suck? 9 Design Tips to Assess Its Strength

Does your logo suck?Thanks to guest blogger, Kathy Swiderski

Graphic designers are trained to look at logos differently than the average person. We have to think about how it will work in numerous situations such as:

  • Large and small
  • Black and white
  • Various readers
  • What it communicates
  • Is it memorable?

I’ve been creating logos and brands for more than 20 years. So, I’d like to share my experience with you. Here are 9 main tips you should consider to ensure that you have a strong logo for your business:

1. Great things come in small packages.

A functional logo will be able to be reduced to an inch square or less and still be legible and identifiable.

This means that you should not have large contrasts of type size in your logo because when it gets small, the largest type will be readable and the small will be just a blur. It also means details can get lost or start to mash together so that they do not communicate what you want them to.

You might think that the need to have it work when it’s small doesn’t apply to you, but there will always be those situations where it needs to fit in a small space. For example, you’re one of 10 sponsors of an event and they’ve agreed to include your logo. However, the ten logos are going to fit at the bottom of a post card. You want yours to be clear and unmistakable, especially in that kind of competitive environment.

2. Keep it simple.

Minimum detail helps when you have to display it small, as explained in the previous point. Plus, getting rid of anything unessential is part of what makes anything visually strong. The less the brain has to identify and interpret, the quicker it can latch on to your meaning and start to remember that logo (and its connection to you).

3. Three colors or less.

People have so much fighting for their visual attention. Three colors means three things to remember. Two is easier. One is dead simple.

Really, a nice two-color combo can create an interesting dynamic so that’s what I usually recommend. However, if you have a unique icon, one color will do the trick and be the best solution. Basically what I’m saying is that “less is more.”

4. Get it in vector.

If you’re having a logo designed, make sure your designer provides you with a “vector” version of it. This might be a .ai or .eps format.

A vector format means that the logo is created in outlines that can be stretched to any size without distortion. If it is just created in a bitmap format then it will distort after a certain amount of size increase.

You want to keep that logo handy in case you want to edit it in the future or put it on a huge sign or billboard. Make sure you have it in vector and keep it safe.

5. Go for clarity.

Your logo should be easily identifiable. Don’t expect a logo to tell your whole story. That’s not it’s job. Your logo should be simple and clear in image and/or words. It should state the name of the company in a unique font and/or icon combo.

Most important is that new prospects can read your name and get a sense of the personality of your brand and its main offering. They should be able to sense whether this might be a company that would suit their needs. The quicker they can sense whether you’re a fit for them, the better.

6. Beware of being clever.

Sometimes in an attempt to be unique and memorable, we come up with ideas that only we will ever really get. It can be difficult to know when you’ve gone beyond clever and moved into the territory of confusing.

Try to see your logo from the point of view of someone looking at it for the first time. If possible, get some feedback from potential prospects who’ve never heard of you and see their reactions. Err on the side of simplicity – your future clients will thank you for it.

7. Fonts are meant to communicate, not dazzle.

Choose fonts that can be read at a small size and at a quick glance. This usually means plain sans serif or traditional serif fonts that are not overly busy. You want to be a quick and comfortable read. The more stylized and “interesting” the font, the harder it usually is to read.

8. Make it work in black and white.

You want a version of your logo to work in black and white (b/w). You can have a more colorful one that you use most of the time, but you need it to convert to b/w.

Graphic designers used to say that you want it to work on a fax. Even though faxing is a less likely situation now, you still want to test out your logo in black and white in case there are situations that arise. For example, you’re a sponsor for a sports team or event and they are going to use your logo, but they can only afford a one color print, whether that is black or something red… you’re logo will still work!

Make sure you create your logo in various versions (like black and white, a horizontal version, a vertical version) so that it can work hard for you in every promotional situation.

9. Be unique.

This one may go without saying and I’ve kept it last on purpose. It’s important to be memorable and uniqueness will do that. But be careful to create something that is first functional, legible, and sizable and all those other boring things first. If you can check all those off and create something unique as well, you have a winner!

So, what do you think? Is yours a strong logo that is simple, unique and clear? Share your thoughts in the comment section below because I’d love to hear from you.

And, to learn more about creating a strong and lasting brand that attracts the kind of clients you love, join me on Thursday, March 20 (4 pm ET) for a FREE WEBINAR entitled: 3 Huge Branding Mistakes Businesses Make that Cost them Cash Flow. Register here: http://www.redskydesign.ca/free-webinar

Brand Therapist - Kathy SwiderskiAbout Guest Blogger, Kathy Swiderski: Kathy is an award-winning Registered Graphic Designer in Ontario, Canada. She calls herself The Brand Therapist and is the owner of Red Sky Branding. Her branding process helps passionate business owners inject value and meaning into their brands to attract the kinds of clients who will love them and stick with them long term.

Debra Jason

Marketing & writing with heart, not hype at at The Write Direction
A recipient of the “Creative Person of the Year” award, Debra educates and empowers creative solopreneurs and enthusiastic business owners to create a lifestyle business that provides them with the flexibility, fun and freedom to do what they love. She also inspires you to communicate your marketing message in a way that captivates and converts your prospects into loyal, raving fans - even if you have been struggling with how to transform your ideas into words in the past.

Comments

  1. Fantastic value here Kathy!!! Thanks for sharing these 9 tips on how to make a great logo for your brand! Simple value!!
    oan Harrington recently posted…How To Sharpen Your Story Telling SkillsMy Profile

  2. This article s very useful and informative.
    Nayna Kanabar ( recently posted…Cauliflower Soup~5-2 dietMy Profile

  3. Wow, these are really good tips! I’ll have to go back to my business logo and change a few things…
    Susan Evans recently posted…Groundwater ExperimentMy Profile

  4. Kathy Swiderski says:

    Hey, Thanks Joan Harrington, Nayna Kanabar and Susan Evans! I hope these tips are helpful in each of your businesses.

  5. Great stuff, Ladies! You’re right…too often we try to get “cute” with logos and forget that they’re there to provide brand identification. 🙂
    Larry Hochman recently posted…Gym Equipment, Starbucks And Asking For HelpMy Profile

    • Kathy Swiderski says:

      Absolutely. You want it to be attractive, but what really matters is what it communicates about you.

  6. Such an interesting read. I learned so much. I haven’t a logo yet. But understand the importance of using one.Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
    Liz Delaney recently posted…Ritual 2 for Quantum WealthMy Profile

  7. This is a great outline for anyone looking to design and produce their logo. I remember, when I was trying to get my logo(s)designed, that I was trying to do to much.

    I think the thing that stuck out to me the most was not trying to get your logo to tell a story, but rather be identifiable.

    Great value as usual.
    Brian McDaniel recently posted…The Overwhelm AntidoteMy Profile

    • Kathy Swiderski says:

      Great point. And, you’re in good company. It is a strong tendency for most of us to try to get our logo to do everything especially because design is an investment, for sure. However, if your logo is identifiable and memorable and you get the other pieces of your brand working for you, the story gets told.

  8. A truly interesting blog as well as educational. It certainly gives us the real reason for a logo rather than just something off the cuff. I do think that we can combine esthetics with a logo that give us an identity that can be very useful. Great post with a very practical understanding. Thanks very much Debra.
    John Logan recently posted…One Of My Mentors – Mark.My Profile

    • Kathy Swiderski says:

      Thanks, John. Glad you found it useful. And yes, if we can successfully combine form and function we’re ahead of the game.

  9. Thanks Debra… and Kathy! I considered these 9 tips and think my logo fits, miracle of all miracles! Excellent info to consider, I suppose it’s relative to the age old saying, “less is more”. I think I’m on the right track, much appreciated ladies.
    Kelly Cavanaugh recently posted…The Power of TearsMy Profile

  10. Thanks for the great tips and advice Debra. I feel in many ways my logo does fit your criteria, but there is always room for improvement! 🙂
    Belinda Rose recently posted…I Shall Not WantMy Profile

    • Kathy Swiderski says:

      Thanks for the comment. It’s nice when we get these checklists and we find out we’re doing something right! Hope it was encouraging!

  11. Hi Debra and Kathy- I’ve received positive feedback about my logo from women who seem to “get it.” I was shopping at my favorite boutique here in D.C. and was chatting with one of the stylist who’s whole demeanor lit up when she discovered my logo! I love these simple and easy to understand tips:-) My first go of my logo was many too many colors, I must admit! lol xoDana
    Dana Mallon recently posted…Doing With Instead of Doing To: The Powerful Shift that can Revolutionize Your ParentingMy Profile

  12. I love how informational this guest blog is! In some of the online women’s groups I belong to entrepreneurs obsess over their logos and you’ve created a great check list for both beginners and those more established. I must say, you always have very useful info on your blog.
    Tracey Ceurvels recently posted…Spring risotto {Time to get out of the cave}My Profile

  13. I got it keep it simple. Logos are so important, i have had my fair share of logos and i definitely could have used these tips.

    Great idea about having vector and black and white versions, I don’t have those – better get on it.

    thanks for sharing
    Catherine Storing recently posted…Are You Commited Enough to Live The Life You Always Wanted?My Profile

  14. These are great ideas to keep in mind. People often underestimate the power of a simple logo, but in some cases, it can make or break a sale. There are many things that go into a good logo, and I think you’ve covered the most important bases.
    Heather recently posted…THK Manufacturing Facility OverviewMy Profile

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