Design Logos Like a Pro With These 9 Fundamental Principles

Designing an effective logo involves careful attention to a number of important factors. Below are 9 fundamental principles to consider while developing your logo.

#1 Have a Clear Purpose


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A logo is often the first impression a company gives to its audience. Before you start designing your logo, you should have a clear idea of your target audience and purpose. You should also consider the message the company or organization wants to portray. Knowing what is appropriate for your ideal audience will directly influence every style choice in the design process. Font, colors, and images are all design choices that can help to communicate your purpose, and making the wrong choices can create confusion. For example, you don’t want to use a dated font to represent a technology company that wants to advertise its cutting-edge innovations.

#2 Keep It Simple


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A common mistake many new designers make is to design an intricate logo. This is not the time to you show off the elaborate design techniques you know. The more complicated a design is, the harder it is to consistently replicate. Additionally, a complex design can confuse the message a company wants to convey. You should start from a clear concept and break it down to its essential point. Think of world famous logos like Nike and Apple. They are all clear images, distinct that represent a fundamental message of their respective companies.

Also, you want to keep in mind that some of the most effective logos do not have to spell out their message in the logo. If you find yourself relying on a caption or a motto in the logo, consider why the design isn’t strong enough to stand on its own.

#3 Avoid the Predictable


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While simplicity is essential for a clear message, you also want to avoid falling into the trap of predictability. If the logo is generic, something the average person could have doodled on a napkin, then it’s not achieving its goal of creating a dynamic image of the company. You should strive to be clever while also being clear and informative.

#4 Timeless Style is Best


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When designing your logo you want to think long-term. You should avoid having to rebrand regularly because the logo looks outdated. A strong and effective logo will still be relevant and fresh ten years down the road. The Coca-Cola Logo is one of the best examples in this regard. Although it has suffered some modifications along the years, it still remains true to the original design.

In order to design a timeless logo, you should stay away from style trends and avoid any unnecessary components that might seem impressive at the time but could easily look dated.

#5 Make it Memorable


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Originality is the key to designing a memorable logo. You want your logo to leave a strong impression that is unique to the organization it represents. This requires a thoughtful balance between being classic while still standing out in the crowd. The Apple logo is a terrific example for this because an apple alone could read as too generic. However, an apple with a bite missing is special and interesting. In order to achieve a unique logo style you should be aware of already used (and overused) styles so you can avoid them.

#6 Be Thoughtful About Color


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Though the most significant part of your logo should be the specific design, color choices are also a crucial component. For example, some of the web-designed colors cannot reliably translate to other media.

Even with the most basic colors, you want to be sure you are choosing shades that can be consistent and recognizable to the specific brand you are creating. University logos run into this issue often when using different shades of basic colors like red, blue, and green. For example, some schools use “crimson” while others use “maroon.”

The importance of color specificity can also help reinforce brand identification. Some color combinations are immediately identifiable even outside of the logo. For example, those distinctive shades of yellow in the form of two arches immediately say “McDonald’s” regardless of context.

It can also be helpful to think of the different moods certain colors evoke. Red is bold and aggressive, blue is calm and soothing, and yellow is bright and cheerful, etc.

Finally, you want to limit your use of color to just a few so the logo doesn’t look too busy.

#7 Versatility is Essential


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The ability to be versatile will help in making your logo popular. For example, you should keep in mind the different contexts and media in which the design will appear. How small will it have to be? How large will it have to be? Is it going to be on only dark backgrounds, light backgrounds, or both? What this means is that though you should consider color thoughtfully, your logo should also be able to be identifiable in black and white. Also, too much detail or text can make your logo illegible if you plan on shrinking it to fit small dimensions, like letterhead, stickers, or clothing.

#8 Consider Active or Passive


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An important aspect of logo design that has become more popular recently involves being aware of whether or not the logo communicates activity or passivity. Creating a sense of motion or activity into a logo can be very useful, depending on the message a company wants to communicate. For example, the early twitter logo was a standing bird. Now the twitter logo is a bird in mid-flight. This change more accurately reflects the active nature of the brand and the verb “tweet” that has become synonymous with it. Paying attention to the active or passive nature of a logo can really give the design a boost from both a visual and conceptual perspective.

#9 Does It Tell a Story?



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Every successful logo has a story or meaning behind it. If you think of a logo as just a superficial image, it will read as flat. Instead, you want to draw interest from your audience and incite curiosity about the company. Ideally, a good logo should represent the brand in two ways. The first is the obvious information about what the company offers, and the second should be the deeper meaning behind the company’s history and goals. And that is exactly what the Toyota Logo does (picture above).  Apart from being a very fancy and stylized letter “T”, the company states on their website associates the three ovals with “the unification of the companies and customer’s hearts, while the background space represents technological advancement and boundless opportunities ahead”. 

A good logo will thus create interest, and if someone asks you about the story behind your logo, you should have an engaging answer.

There you have it. With these 9 fundamental principles, you’ll be churning out crisp and beautiful logos in no time. Do you have anything else to add to this article? Write down your thoughts in the comment section below.

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