Some of the most iconic logos of our time are breathtakingly elegant in their simplicity. The first one that springs to mind is Apple – that uses its namesake heavily stylised in a single colour. Or think of Coca-Cola’s swirly white letters, usually on a red background and often accompanied by a visual of their characteristic bottle. In a similar vein, Ford has its timeless white script on blue oval. What about Mercedes-Benz’s pointed star? Or McDonald’s golden “M”? The designers responsible for these images make it look so deceptively simple.

Consider the elegant simplicity of Mercedes-Benz’s logo.
Photo by Uriel Soberanes on Unsplash

And yet finding that perfect logo to represent your brand is not as easy as you’d think, and most certainly not as effortless as heading onto a website that offers stock vector logos as a kind of visual shorthand. Next thing you know, your company logo will be identical to hundreds of others out there, and that’s not what you want or need.

Yet even when you have a creative designing your logo, there are still quite a number of pitfalls that will affect the final results, and even if you are not a design professional, you can still be aware of these issues and brief your creative accordingly.

1) Too much image, not enough text. Logos are often a careful balance between visual elements and text. Unless of course the text is designed to the point where it has become an eye-catching visual element (think of IBM’s logo, for instance), you need to strike that middle ground so that the image does not overpower the brand or company name. It goes without saying that the converse is also something to watch out for.

2) Shape. Your logo isn’t just going to appear on your letterheads or business cards, and so think about its proportions before you get stuck into the creative process. Consider that a wide, rectangular-shaped logo might not work if you’re booking portrait-shaped ads online. And vice versa – if your logo is a tall, rectangular shape, it might not look so good on a letterhead. Ideally, your logo should fit within the proportions of a square – which offers the most versatile applications.

3) Too busy. There’s a lot to be said for the statement “Less is more” when it comes to logo design. Logos that are too complex, have too many textures, colours or fonts, or that are too dependent on colour will not be as effective as a simple logo that works well, whether it’s only black and white or full colour. There are times when you may want your logo to appear as a one- or two-colour print. You may wish to enlarge your logo to be used for outdoor or vehicle branding but it must still be effective for digital applications. Simple graphics are king, in all these instances.

4) Too trendy. Much like fashion, trends in logo design happen. Suddenly everyone’s using vintage, distressed or handwritten fonts with watercolour backgrounds. Sure, this looks pretty neat now, but in a year, or even a few months, this will be so overused. Granted, if yours is a short-term initiative, for instance a one-off event or an offering of some sort that is seasonal, by all means, play on the trends. However, if you’re in it for the long game, then make a little effort to invest in a logo that is as timeless as you aspire for your business to be.

5) Lay off the personal symbolism. Don’t forget that your logo is there to sell your product or business. While the temptation to weave in a few personal quirks, such as star signs or your favourite pet from your childhood, you mustn’t lose sight of the fact that you’re trying to sell a product or business. You need a strong symbol that people will instantly recognise, that is relevant to your business. Likewise, a logo should be designed to communicate a business or product; not to show off the designer’s mad skills.

Looking for a well-designed logo? Come chat with us here at Helicopter Design. We will gladly assist you. Email mark@helicopterdesign.co.za for more information.

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