Earlier this week, I picked up embroidered shirts for one of my clients – the first shirts to have the new “cleaned up” logo I redesigned last year for them (the one they had before really didn’t work and the original file could not be found so excellent time for a modified look).
To me, how a logo looks in stitching is a big test. If you don’t need to modify much, it’s a good sign the logo will hold up for other promotional needs. I’m happy to say this one was (and not just me – the embroidery guy was definitely not rolling his eyes or grumbling at me about the design so yay!)
Here are my main considerations of a logo – the first hoops I jump logo concepts through to be sure they’ll work before a client seems them.
Scalability: Size does matter. A logo has to look good and be legible at all sizes. So test it. Create some faux letterhead. Make a small lapel pin. Conversely get one printed at a local print shop poster size. Hang it across the room. A good logo is clear from a distance as well as printed small on paper. Testing avoids running into any problems down the line with reproducing it.
Sidenote: You can make plans for this while the logo above has the words within the globe, the website banner has them outside. This is called modifying for use. View the Loving Care case study here
Versatility: Color range.
A logo should look good in black and white, grayscale, and two colors (you can save tons of money in printing if you stick to 2-color or 3-color jobs). There is no hard and fast rule, as long as there a reason and meaning behind it.
When I work on design with clients, I ask not only about personal colors they like but also what colors are in the existing business space, materials, etc. If your business is in an iconic green building downtown, perhaps that color can be incorporated into your brand for a natural consistency.
Never more than 2 fonts.
Choosing the right font that matches the brand personality can be hard work. There are thousands of fonts. Add in they can be all uppercase, all lowercase, bold, italics, etc., it can be a little rabbit hole to enter. You want something distinct but purchasing a custom font (think Coca Cola) may not be in your budget. That’s fine but then avoid common fonts. Also when you’re checking scale, be sure your font is legible.
Industry Research: Do your homework. To avoid looking like every other company in your field, do some research. You want a logo that stands out among competitors. Ideally, your business will become so successful, your logo will be iconic. Do you think that will happen if you use some clip art for the time being? Nike’s swoosh has been there from day one.
Google makes checking out if your logo concepts very easy. Run an images search for “farm logo,” “camp logo,” etc. and you can see the variety that’s out there. Or maybe you noticed a pattern – everybody has a tractor, cow or barn.
What I do for clients as part of initial concepting is share logos of regional businesses in their industry. This builds the case for the concepts I’m about to present will help them stand out. Any good designer should be making this effort.
Be common. Avoid trends. Make it timeless. Most car companies don’t use a car in their logo. Not all restaurant logos have a fork so you do not need to have a literal symbol as your logo. You do not need a symbol. Just go with a strong font.
Most importantly, your logo should make you feel good. It should mean something to you. Bears are not part of marketing at all. But that bear of mine is perfect for my business because it carries with it meaning for me. As do the colors.
Here’s a great article sharing the logo evolution and meaning behind automobile brand logos we are familiar with that can help illustrate my points as well.