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Like a Russian nesting doll, there’s a lot more to logo design than meets the eye. A logo can be summarized in just three words: icon, font and color. But, the work that goes into designing each of these elements is a lot to unpack.
Logo design is like a body — it needs more than just the basics, or the “bones,” to be as fully functional as possible. In my years-long career as a serial entrepreneur, I’ve found out firsthand the value of ensuring that each logo is as well-designed as possible for the longevity and success of the company that it represents.
Ready for an anatomy lesson? Here are the critical elements that go into fantastic logo design.
A graphic that fits the brand
You may have decided to go with a simple wordmark or lettermark logo. If that fits your brand best, go for it, but most brands — over 60% according to some statistics — use a combination logo, including both a wordmark and a graphic or icon.
When choosing your graphic, here are the essentials for ensuring your choice is best for the success of the logo — and the brand behind it.
- Avoid graphics that are too generic and don’t stand out from the crowd. Standard stock imagery or iconography may be a good starting point to give you an idea of what you want but play around with it to ensure it’s the most accurate style for your company.
- Make sure that your graphic style isn’t tone-deaf. Tone and messaging are both imperative for good graphic design. If you’re launching a high-tech startup with the goal of a reputation as cutting-edge, a quirky, cartoony graphic wouldn’t fit the bill, for example.
- Check for scalability. How well does your graphic show up in different sizes? Make sure it’s a vector image to avoid issues with pixelation and potential loss of detail.
- Don’t be a copycat. This calls for extensive market research and analysis of potential competition. Does your competitor use a red star in its logo? Keep it out of your own. Copycat or dupe designs almost inevitably lead to unfavorable comparisons.
Prioritizing clarity in your font
Choosing your font is the next big part of putting together a great logo design. Font choice is integral not only to the user-friendliness of the logo but to the overall uniqueness, too. Here are some keys to look for:
- Legibility and readability. You may use these interchangeably, but they’re terms that are distinct but related. Legibility refers to the individual letters and words and how easy they are to comprehend. Readability refers to whether the text as a whole can be read and how easy it is to do so. These are key to font choice because there’s a limited amount of alphabet letters in your logo. Check each one for legibility, and ensure they work together accurately for overall readability. Color choice also plays a part in this, both in the color of the font and the background, but we’ll talk more about that later.
- Psychology of font choice. Generally speaking, we tend to associate certain traits and characteristics with certain types of fonts, such as serifs being viewed as reliable and traditional, sans serifs as youthful, and script as creative and unique. This can be leveraged to fit the messaging of your brand and influence the first impression your logo makes.
- Branding potential. How will your chosen font work on other pieces of branding? Branding works best as a cohesive whole, where individual elements are reused for familiarity and reliability. Count on using your logo font in other areas of the brand identity, and double-check the legibility and readability against other potential uses.
Making it memorable with color choice
The colors you choose can build your brand’s recognizability and make it memorable. Here are the keys to good color choice.
- Psychology of color. Just like with fonts, we infer certain traits from colors, and they elicit certain feelings and reactions. Different demographics also have preferred colors. Leveraging color psychology in branding can elevate logo design.
- Avoid using too many colors. Most design experts suggest no more than two or three.
- Careful color choice influences brand memorability. Using a signature color in your logo and across your branding can increase brand recognition by 80%.
Related: The Role of Color in Branding
Putting it all together
The specifics of logo design vary depending on the company behind the logo, the designer and the design itself. Sometimes, inspiration strikes. For others, it’s a long, hard slog to try and get the perfect logo design. There’s no surefire way to guarantee the success of logo design every single time, any more than there’s a way to guarantee the success of a new business venture.
But just like experience in the world of entrepreneurship will help us with our next startup, a deepened understanding of good logo design will help us to weigh the odds in our favor.