A logo is one of the most difficult design aspects to perfect. A company logo is a symbol or the name of your business which invokes immediate recognition, inspires trust and identifies your business from the rest of your competitors. A lot for one little symbol to do! We’re all familiar with the logos that do this well, the golden arches of McDonald’s, the red swooshy letters of Coca-Cola and the striped initials of IBM. The moment we see them, we know the products they sell.
Here are some rules of thumb to help you decide what you want your logo to look like:
- It must be easy to read and comprehend. In most cases, simple fonts and graphics work best.
- It should be adaptable. Ask yourself, what will it look like printed in one color? Will you be able to read it at the size of a postage stamp or the size of a billboard? Does it convey the same meaning when printed in reverse (on a dark background with white or light printing)?
- The logo should be appropriate to your business. Logos geared to children or kids’ stores should use bright colors and “young” fonts, whereas a logo for a lawfirm would use more subdued colors and regal fonts.
- Logos don’t necesarily need a picture of the product it sells. McDonald’s doesn’t use a hamburger paired with its arches and IBM doesn’t use a computer with its initials. In some instances, pictures may be more distracting than helpful. If you have a company whose products improve constantly (i.e. a cellphone), you would need to continually update – not what you want to do.
A good designer will take the time to sit down with you and discuss your business, the products you sell, the image you’d like to portray and the elements you’d like to use. As for the design itself, unless you absolutely need something specific, give the designer room to do what they do best…create.
Have the desinger give you 3 or 4 different concepts and have them done in black and white. If a logo looks great in black and white, color is just a bonus and can easily be added later. Once you are happy with the choices, GET FEEDBACK. Show it to your friends, family and trusted clients. Tell them to be honest. A third party may see something you don’t. (See slideshow for examples and a good laugh).
After you have decided you have the perfect logo, it is now time to pick colors. Colors influence your audiences as well. The Toys-R-Us logo uses bright, kid-freindly colors which is easily recognizable even to an audience of 4 year olds. Colors have meaning.
- Blues give a sense of purity, sky and water, peace, calm and honesty. There are few blue foods in the Western culture so you don’t normally see logos associated with food created in blue. Electric blues can express exhilaration.
- Natural greens are soothing, relaxing and remind us of grasses and forrests. It can offer a sense of harmony and ecology. However, an institutional shade of green can be associated with illness. It may also conjure the image of money.
- How can yellow be anything but fun? It radiates optimism, happiness, energy and communication. It’s the color of our sun and can be mentally stimulating.
- Orange hues can range from fun and energetic to earthy.
- Red is usually a stimulant or a way to focus your attention on something. It increases enthusiam, energy and may stimulate your appetite (think of the combination of reds, oranges and yellows used in popular fast food restaurants). You must be careful when using red, because it symbolizes both sides of the emotional spectrum, love and anger.
- Purple is the combination of blue and red and is most often associated with royalty and magic. It is a popular favorite of adolescent girls. Purple can also offer a sense of spirituality and can encourage creativity.
- Browns portray stability, reliability and is associated with earth, nature and the organic.
- The use of white, or even the amount of white space around your logo may have meaning. White offers purity, cleanliness and neutrality.
- Gray is a longstanding neutral, a combination of white and black. It is timeless, but can be associated with loss or depression.
- Finally, black is a very classy color associated with power, stability, mystery and sophistication.
While the use of each color may not affect each person exactly as described above, it is good practice to keep these color meanings in mind and how they are used in relation to each other. There are simple rules for oclor combinations and a wide variety of websites dedicated to this subject. Some good ones include, ColorSchemer and Kuler that allow you to pick a main color and will generate a pallet for you.
Next time a logo catches your eye, ask yourself what about it is so appealing? I’m guessing that they have most of the qualities listed in the article. Check out the slide show to view some of the logos in Fargo live up to these standards.