There are hundreds of articles about the subject online. A lot of people think that logo design has distinct and black-and-white requirements, and I believe they are almost right. If you ask us about this here at AmbitionStock, we say that for a graphic art (which all logos are) to meet the criteria of what we call good logo, should meet some requirements. Note that what I write down here is our perspective on the subject, and not some universal Rule of Logos. At the end of the day, if a company, or you as an entrepreneur call a graphic your logo, then whatever is it, now is a logo.
Still, we strongly advise you to think again.
Logo vs. logo as a design category
I do logo design since 2009, and there is a common “problem” that is coming from clients who don’t really understand what makes a logo a logo, and they ask me to create or do certain things with it that I definitely don’t want to. First of all, a graphic, doesn’t matter how cool it is, is not a logo already.
I give you an example. I found a bad logo on Google (sorry for the owner, I am willing to redesign it for free).
What do you think is my biggest problem with this logo? The strange colors? The facial expression of that frog-looking alien? The fact that the golf and football are purple? The font? None of these.
My biggest and first problem with this logo is that it has what I call too much size dynamic.
The difference between sizes and details of different elements are too big.
What do I mean? Take ANY logo, and use your browser or image editor to scale it down to a very small size. I did it for you:
The small size makes the Cazz’s logo almost crush into incomprehensible small pieces. You can’t see the frog’s facial expression anymore, you can’t read the tagline (which is unfortunately made to be a PART of the logo, which I always avoid), the balls almost became some pixel dirt. The Nike logo? It doesn’t even care about being small. Shines as always.
Now, I came with an extreme example. The Nike logo is the extreme end of simplicity, but I think you get the point. Let’s get the frog logo in challenge with a random one from our catalog.
We can say, the result is the same. The “A” logo (Artifical Logo) keeps it’s power, character, style, because it is designed to do. Do we say that The Cazz’s graphic is a bad graphic? No, we say it’s dysfunctional as a logo.
Would you buy blue oranges?
Logos are the main part of branding, and one (again, only one) goal of branding is to stand out. Uniqueness is what makes it stand out. But being unique is not a simple task to do, choosing the right way depends on a variety of things, including the business field you are in.
There are fields where ‘standing out’ means to differ just enough from competition, while being too gamechanging is to be avoided. You wouldn’t want to use a comic hero as a logo for your funeral company.
A good example for this is building / architecture and mortgage companies. Trust me, in most times, you do want that image of a house or representing graphics there. I know, thousands do it, but for a reason. On the other hand, branding an energy drink company is a task that gives you a lot wider amount of freedom. There, you do want to let your creativity become wilder.
A good logo designer will always be able to create a logo that stands out AND fits the style of your field. Logo design is always about balancing different goals.
You may already heard the statement that the more simple the logo, the better it is. We do agree with this. A simple logo is more recognizable and easier to remember than a more complex one. Designing a logo is to communicate a message, and the better the designer is, the less “stuff” (s)he will need to do this. Me, personally, I only add further elements to a logo when I am absolutely sure that by increasing the complexity, I give more value. Adding to complexity just for the sake of complexity is something that should be avoided.
Of course, adding more elements the right way, makes a logo more of a detailed piece of art, more exciting and more unique. Again, this is about balance, and being able to keep multiple perspectives involved while making decisions.
We have, as example, the Distense logo from our store. I think we can agree, that it is both very unique and simple. It is an asymmetric three dimensional shape in a warm color, teamed with a strong font with the same color. It even makes you look at it for a little amount of time, like the shape’d want to communicate with you.
You will definitely stand out with this on, without having a complex logo.
On the other hand, the Bubble Game logo has a lot more elements. It has nine circles with different color and size, creating a playful group of objects. This is what we call something like “complex simplicity”, a logo with several elements, but a simple concept.
Ability to perform in 2 colors
One of the basic principles in logo design, is that your logo should keep being recognizable, comprehensible and of course, cool in black and white. This has several reasons. First of all, there are times when you do want to use your logo in black and white, for example, when you create a business stamp. There, you only have one color (and the white paper for second), and you still want your logo to be, at least, recognizable, even if you know, that it will not bring it’s full power.
A second reason that backs this principle, is, again, simplicity. If your logo performs well in black and white, it is another reason to think that your logo was designed well, because it does not need colors in order to tell its message. Colors only add to it’s effectiveness, and that is a good thing.
Master balance of caring and not caring about trends
This is a principle I almost decided to not include in this post, because this part is really an art and can only be done by highly skilled designers. When I design a logo, I always have this goal in mind.
I want people who look at my logo to see and feel that they are looking at the work of a designer who understands, knows, yet don’t blindly follow trends.
And to do this, it’s really an art of balance, and something extra. I do webdesign too, and sometimes I’m totally unmotivated by the fact that “modern design” means using the same graphic-less minimalist light designs. They have their place, but come on. Pixels are for free, colors are for free. Design, designer!