“Symbolize and summarize”
-Saul Bass, Renowned Logo Designer
Logo design is truly an art. Taking a company, an idea, a concept, a passion and representing it with a single image is no small task. It requires a true understanding of what is at the heart of the organization and the skill to translate that into a universally recognizable image that will evoke emotion in everyone that sees it…..but not just any emotion……the right emotion!
Logo design does come down to just this: emotion. Your logo should grab people, excite them, welcome them, or ignite whichever feeling you desire. Some logos are meant to create excitement, others happiness, and some even want to evoke sadness. Whatever the goal, it is your designers responsibility to understand it well and keep it at the core of the design process. Here are some ways to make sure your logo has the desired impact…
What is your desired reaction?
The first step of evoking the right emotion in people is deciding what the right emotion is. When people see your logo do you want them to feel Excited? Happy? Cared For? It’s not enough to just say that your company represents all of these things – I’m sure it does! But what makes you stand out? What is different about you? Why should your potential customers choose you over your competitor? When you have that answer, THAT is the emotion you want to evoke.
How do you create this emotion?
Once you have determined what is the right emotion / feeling / reaction you want to convey through your logo, you can move on to actually creating it. This is where it gets fun. First, look for inspiration. This doesn’t mean copy someone else’s logo; it means look at other logos that make you feel the way you want your customers to feel and get some ideas of what they have in common. In general, laid back casual feelings will have more earthy tones & colors and softer, rounded edges (or no edges at all.) Exciting logos will create movement.
While logos that want to make people feel cared for and convey trustworthiness will often have strong larger than life representations
There is a phycology behind this that your designer should be aware of and capable of brining to your logo. What’s important here is that you have a frame of reference for what is relevant. The Starbucks logo wouldn’t work for a tech company (it’s too warm & welcoming) and the Apple logo won’t work for a coffee shop (not very warm & welcoming!)
How colorful should it be?
Not at all. Of course logo design is artistic and there is no right or wrong, but this a very useful rule of thumb. Design your logo in black & white! If your logo can’t translate well to black and white, it will be very limited in its uses. This rule came about during the days of printed media, faxes, etc. when black print was the only option very often. While that’s not the case anymore, the rule still stands strong. A logo that can be represented by a single color (such as black) with negative space making up the rest (white) your logo will be endlessly versatile. Your designer should not need to rely on a huge color palette to create the desired effect.
This does not mean your logo cannot have color. Color is not a bad thing. But it should be able to easily translate into black and white. Be sure, however, that your colors are there for a purpose. Just because your logo includes a banana in it doesn’t mean the banana needs to be yellow. Just because there is a rose doesn’t mean it needs to be red. Logos are not literal representations, they are art. Use color for a purpose. Different colors convey different emotions. Red conveys the strongest emotions: Love, Passion & Anger. Green is calm and soothing. Blue is trusting and secure (it has a wide range depending on the shade.) The science of colors is a completely separate article in itself. The key here is don’t use color just to use color. Make it count.
Detailed? Or not so much?
Not so much. Again, this is of course a matter of opinion, but there’s good reason for our opinion – we promise! While the ability to create large, detailed images has become much easier in recent years through design software, the way in which we see these logos has actually gotten smaller. Logos are viewed on computers screens now – often as profile pictures on a social media page. Or a favicon (the small logo inside the address bar on your browser). These are TINY! And that’s on a computer screen. Now imagine all of this on a phone or tablet. Even tinier! The shape and outline of your logo should be recognizable even at these sizes. Keep the detail to a minimum. A single shape or silhouette can speak volumes!
Ok, just tell me what my logo should be!
A tree. No a tree with wires for roots. No, a tree with wires for roots and a single leaf falling off. No, a tree with wires for roots, a single leaf falling off, and a hand catching the leaf! Did any of those work? If not, read on…
We can’t just guess what should be included in your logo. It all comes down to everything you read above to decide what image(s) convey the right message. But what we can tell you is don’t be shy to think abstractly. Think of a creative way to represent the first letter of your company name. Think about what you really DO at your core.
So you’re a personal trainer. Yes, you train, you help clients build muscle, lose weight, etc. But what you DO is change lives. What you DO is teach people how to take care of themselves. What images convey those core aspects of what you bring to people?
You make gourmet food items. Yes, you cook. You bake. You mix. You package. We got it. But what you DO is give people food that they experience – not just eat. What you DO is take the ordinary (eggs, sugar, biscuits…) and make it extraordinary (Tiramisu)
So think hard about what you really do. How you impact people, animals, the environment, whatever and send that message. And very importantly, make sure you’re working with a designer that’s willing to take the time to figure out what you truly DO before creating a single sketch.