What could be more important to the visual aspects of a brand than the logo? After all, a company’s logo is the most commonly seen representation of the company itself. As an ambassador for a brand, a logo has a big job to do.
So you’d think that every precaution would be taken when designing a logo. If a company’s main ambassador, a logo design is difficult to understand, unmemorable, or just plain shoddy, it won’t reflect very well on the company itself.
But it’s easy to make logo design mistakes, especially if you’re putting together a DIY logo. On the other hand, it’s pretty easy to avoid these mistakes, if you put a little extra effort into your design. Let’s take a look at five common logo design mistakes, and how they can be avoided.
Mistake One: Using A Generic Graphic
Nothing has done the world of graphic design a bigger disservice — and at times a bigger favor — than the invention of clip art. Sure, clip art has its place. But “in a professional company logo” is not one of them. Clip art (or even just clip art style graphics) or graphics and shapes that are too commonly used will definitely remove the “memorability” aspect of your logo.
How To Avoid It
Choose unique graphics for your logo design. If you can’t design one completely on your own, opt for a professionally designed logo graphic from a graphic designer. If you want to use a common shape, such as a heart or a star, use a unique version, such as a hand-drawn take on the classic shape.
Mistake Two: Bad Color Choice (Or Choices)
This may come as a surprise, but effective logo design really benefits from a knowledge of basic psychology. The psychology of color, that is. Though the research on it is somewhat limited, experts generally agree that colors contribute to feelings, moods, and behaviors, and that certain colors can motivate the viewer to action.
This could be a good thing or a bad thing. If you’ve put together a logo for a relaxing massage therapy business or a spa, then using bright, active, powerful reds are probably a mistake, since it sends the exact opposite message to “relaxing.”
On top of the psychology of color, there’s the more basic principle of appeal and aesthetic. For instance, too many colors in a small space can be overwhelming and distract from the main point of the logo. On the other hand, if you choose even just two colors that really don’t look well together, you’re going to end up with a logo that either looks like its color palette is fighting with itself, or just won’t be looked at all.
How To Avoid It
Do a little research on the psychology of color to ensure that the palette you choose won’t clash with the message of the company. It’s probably also a good idea to get outside input on your color choices, to make sure that they work together well.
Mistake Three: Poor Font Choice
Not all logos utilize a typeface, but if your company does, then a word of caution is needed. It’s surprisingly easy to end up with a font that just doesn’t scale well. By “scale well,” we mean that your typeface may be perfectly legible in twelve point font, but become an illegible scrawl when scaled down to something smaller. Alternatively, the font could have been popular at a certain point, but now simply make your design look out of date.
How To Avoid It
Test the scalability of your font, and how well it shows at different sizes and on different backgrounds. Do the words stand out clearly? Is the font “user friendly”? And finally, is your font a throwback that ages your design unflatteringly? Or, worse, is it a font that really should never have been popular in the first place and which really doesn’t belong on a professional logo?
Comic Sans, we’re looking at you.
Mistake Four: Copycat Design
It’s kind of an understatement, but there are a lot of businesses out there. And most, if not all, of them have a logo. It may seem unavoidable that your logo is going to at least resemble another existing logo — and to a certain extent, that could be true. But your logo should never be a duplicate or even similar to an existing logo.
This does happen, often because of unscrupulous designers who feel that they can get away with things. And perhaps they can, for a time. But using a logo that is basically a copy of another will inevitably end up damaging your brand. Even if you avoid getting into trouble for copyright infringement, your logo will become mixed up with that of your competitor.
How To Avoid It
Do your research, and make sure that your design isn’t tied too closely to any other designs out there. This is especially important within your company’s market. If you like some ideas and elements from existing logos, it’s perfectly fine to take inspiration from those designs. But getting inspiration from a design and copying a design are two very different things.
Mistake Five: Overly Complicated Design
Logos are intended to be memorable. So it’s best to keep them simple. Not every designer goes by that rule, however, and the end result will often be that a logo looks “stuffed.” Even if the design decisions themselves are solid, they can be taken too far. Too many details, too many elements, too many graphics and colors, too much type — when it comes to logo design, it’s easy to have too much of a good thing.
How To Avoid It
Do you have multiple elements in your logo design? Try removing one. Does it look good? Try removing another. Simple often equals better, more effective, and more memorable. As you develop your logo design and work toward a final rendition, try to strip as many extraneous elements out of it as you can while still retaining the aesthetic and the message of the original logo.
Successful Logo Design
Though it’s true that a lot of mistakes can be made when designing a logo, it isn’t all that difficult to prevent them, or at least to catch and fix them. There are more mistakes out there, but these five fundamentals will go a long way to helping you, as a designer, put together a functional, successful logo that works for you and your business.