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Logo Language: A Designer’s Perspective

By February 14, 2011July 1st, 2014Branding & Design
Logo Language: A Designer's Perspective

Business owners know how easy it is to become overwhelmed when launching a new product or redesigning a brand. How will you reach your target audience? What will make you stand out from competitors? Why hire a designer to create a logo when you can “do it yourself” because you’ve got a desktop publishing tool that you downloaded for free?

Think about this… would you hem your own pants if they were too long just because you have a needle and thread, or would you bring them to a seamstress? I know I wouldn’t want to walk around with a bad hem.

You can relate this to how you represent your own company with a logo. Would you want to walk around with a logo that speaks poorly of your professional image? Are you tempted to take a shortcut by using clipart or other online images found through a Google search?

Not only can these choices result in a cliché logo based on overused and badly designed imagery, but even more serious problems can arise when you realize that the image you used is a registered mark belonging to someone else. Copyright infringement is not good business, nor something you want your company’s name to be associated with.

As a business owner your job is to have a clear vision for your organization. Leave the representation up to those who can research and create it best.

What is a logo? Let’s start with the basics, because a logo is more than a bit of clipart with an interesting font.A logo is a unique and meaningful graphical element that distinguishes one company from another. Logos create an emotional connection for customers and affect how they feel about certain brands.

There are a few things I like to keep in mind when designing a logo:

1. Research

First and foremost are the questions. Who is your target audience? Who are your competitors? What does your company represent and what message do you want to convey? Those are just a few of the questions that inform the design. Once there is a clear understanding of your company’s core values, my creative process can begin.

2. Typography

Looking for the best typeface to represent a company can be daunting and time consuming. With so many typefaces out there, you would think it would be as easy as picking one that you like, but with over a million different fonts available, it is hard to choose the one that will work best to represent your company.

Do you want to portray a modern, Victorian, shabby chic or other corporate style? Should the font be serif or sans-serif? That is why answers to the initial questions asked are valuable. Once a font is selected, I manipulate it by kerning, overlapping, using positive and negative space of letterforms, and so much more to achieve a desired effect.

When a graphic element needs to be incorporated, I break it down into its simplest form. There is no feature in a logo that I design just because it might look good, but rather each line or detail has a purpose and says something about your brand.

3. Keep It Clean


Designs can be as simplistic or complex as necessary, but the most simple designs are usually the most memorable. Whether a logo uses a serif or a san-serif font, the type treatment should still be clean and most importantly, legible. It is my job to simplify a complex idea by being straightforward and focusing on the core values of the business.

4. Impact


In today’s fast paced world you only have a few seconds to grab your audience’s attention before they focus on something else. If your logo is too difficult to understand, it will not leave the impression you’re hoping for. A good logo has an immediate and lasting effect on the viewer. When I create a logo, I consider the impact it will have, and work to make it a lasting impression.

5. Size Matters

When designing a logo it is important to remember that it will be reproduced on many things. From collateral materials like business cards and letterhead, to print advertisements such as billboards, newspapers and magazines. Products like pencils, t-shirts and other promotional items can be challenging when working with a poorly designed logo.

If a design is too intricate, it may not be recognizable on a smaller scale, especially when small spaces can get filled in during the printing process. Your logo might end up looking like a blob, and that is not a good thing. I always resize a logo concept to be sure that it works just as well on a billboard as etched into the side of a pencil.

Ultimately, a logo is a big part of your company’s brand. It is what separates you from your competitors and grabs the interest of your customers. A well-designed logo will increase the probability that clients will reach out for your services or products. It also leaves prospects with an image that they will remember you by.

My advice is this: a logo is not something you should attempt on your own, even if you have Photoshop. Develop your vision for your company and then hire someone who can graphically represent it to achieve the best results possible.

What does your logo say about your business? More importantly, what do you want it to say?

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • I’ve dealt or heard about far too many clients who think graphic design is a weekend chore.

    A good logo can make or break a business, especially one that’s just getting started. It’s the first thing people notice about your business and the quickest way people can recognize you.

    Think about the familiarity of the “Golden Arches,” and recall the uproar over Gap’s helvetica logo (you know, the one that was trashed about 6 days later); clearly, there’s more to logo design than just “cool” fonts and flashy graphics.

    Logos are about creating a brand image, and that’s something best left to a trained if not experienced professional.

    P.S. – Stay the hell away from Comic Sans and Papyrus. You have been warned.

  • Great post Mike, I think I’ll bookmark it and send it to new or problematic clients.