The effect of your logo on your brand, and whether or not people stick around to check out your website is probably bigger than you think. The evidence suggests that design in general, and branding in particular, matters a lot. I have gone through a few logos since I started this blog. Most of them I have designed myself. I’m blessed to have the skills to do so. But, I do know my limits. I am not a graphic designer. I cannot draw, so some things I outsource. But, if it is something that I am able to do myself in Photoshop, then I get it done. Now I admit that in the beginning I was not that good! Luckily I got better. How about you? What impression does your logo give? Does it look like an amateur did it? Or does it look professional? Many small businesses try to design their logo on the cheap. Often they’ll settle for a simple cut-and-paste job, not realizing that the end result looks unprofessional and grainy. Their brand might be memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.
Here are a few tips to make your logo as good as Apple’s, and other memorable well-known logos that we see from day to day.
Design Tip #1: Keep It Super Simple
Often businesses will try to stand out from the competition by making their logo design very complex. But the problem with complexity is that it’s hard to remember. What’s notable about some of the most successful logos in the world today is how simple they are. Given a piece of paper and a pen, most people would be able to draw the Apple logo or the McDonald’s logo, all because they are exceedingly simple. McDonald’s is one of the biggest brands in the world, and its secret is the letter “m” – hardly groundbreaking stuff. It’s just a unique font.
When I redesigned my latest logo I went for this approach. There are no symbols, no fancy twists or turns, just a nice simple font put to good use.
It turns out that this simplicity is no coincidence. Simplicity sells because most people only pay passing attention to the logos they see. Typically, you’ll have less than a second between a potential customer looking at your logo and then continuing on their way. That’s why simple tends to pay off in the long run.
Design Tip # 2: Consider Context And Format
Many entrepreneurs think that the job of designing a logo is over once it’s been sketched on a blank screen or a piece of paper. But it’s unlikely that the only place in which your logo will be seen is on a white background. What will it look like on your website? What will it look like on your shop front?
During the design process, it’s a good idea to trial the design on multiple backgrounds. See which background work and which don’t. I have one on white, one with no background, and one with a slight glow around the text for using on dark backgrounds.
It’s also a good idea to make sure that you have your logo in a format that can be resized without losing quality. XML bitmaps allow this, but you have to be careful: don’t just stick with a JPEG format and think that this will suffice for all instances in which your logo might be used. In some circumstances, it’ll look stretched and grainy, in others, it’ll appear squashed and dis-proportioned. Keep the editable format (such as PSD) of your logo for making slight design and sizing changes.
Design Tip #3: Avoid Generic Templates
Right now there are a bunch of generic templates out there where businesses can get a logo done quickly and cheaply. This is all fine if you’re desperate for something to tide you over for a couple of weeks while you put something better together, but it’s not a long-term solution. Your logo may end up looking exactly like 300 others on the web, and it will not be unique or memorable at all. Of course you can get ideas from other logos on the web, but be sure to put your own spin on it.
The problem with creating a logo yourself is that it is difficult. It’s hard to come up with your own unique fonts and artwork, especially if you don’t have the right training. However, if you want to try it yourself there are great tutorials like this one, http://designrfix.com/resources/100-creative-photoshop-text-effects-tutorials, where you can pick up some of the basics for designing your own Photoshop text effects. I’ve used similar tutorials before. Learning some of these skills is a great idea if you can’t spend hundreds of dollars to hire a professional designer.
Design Tip #4: Give It Time To Sink In
According to Forbes.com, not all logos will immediately appeal to the masses. Remember, your customers probably have an entirely different perspective than you when it comes to your branding. What seems childish and foolish to you might appear as friendly and playful to your customers.
Businesses never quite know how the public will react to their brand until they put it to the test. And the only way to do that is to put it out there. Obviously, you’ll want to test the appeal of your logo on the customers you intend to target. Get feedback and find out what people think: is their gut reaction what you hoped for? And does your logo reflect your company’s persona?
Design Tip #5: Do it Right… The First Time!
Depending on the size and scope of your business rebranding can be very costly and time-consuming. Get your brand right first time around, and you won’t have to go through this painful process. Experiment, if you must, only at the very beginning. Otherwise, changing your logo, website, business materials, etc. can take a lot of time and cost a pretty penny.