Branding, Creativity, Graphic Design, Tips & Tricks

Logo Woes (part one)

A graph­ic designer’s impulse to cri­tique visu­al details can annoy friends and fam­i­ly. But, it is also invalu­able to any­one start­ing up a new brand. 

In review­ing many stu­dents’ logo designs, I have noticed some com­mon pit­falls. And yes, I see no short­age of real-world marks that could be fixed – or scrapped alto­geth­er. By learn­ing from mis­takes per­haps you can improve your all-impor­tant logo.

Logo prob­lems fall into four cat­e­gories: 

  1. Ideas
  2. Selec­tion of design com­po­nents
  3. Com­po­si­tion
  4. Pro­duc­tion con­sid­er­a­tions. 

Many logos exhib­it prob­lems in more than one, so iso­lat­ing these can be dif­fi­cult. Often flaws in one area lead to weak­ness­es in oth­ers. By start­ing with a strong design process you can avert these.

1. Ideas

What can go wrong? Among oth­er things, logos can suf­fer from obvi­ous, cliché or bor­ing ideas. 

Scale of Justice
How many lawyers have the scales of jus­tice or a judge’s gav­el on their busi­ness cards?

To avoid being obvi­ous, you need a lot of ideas. The point of design is to try things out – espe­cial­ly at the begin­ning of the process. Let your mind run wild. Research. Brain­storm. Sketch. Lat­er, you can assess which con­cepts work for the brand.

Sketch books!

If you are an entre­pre­neur or part of a start-up busi­ness, this can be dif­fi­cult to achieve on your own. Prin­ci­pals of a brand tend to be too close to the prob­lem. An out­sider — Brand agency or graph­ic design­er — can bet­ter churn through all the pos­si­bil­i­ties. 

At the begin­ning, artic­u­late the brand. Invest in brand strat­e­gy. Make lists that cov­er descrip­tions of your brand goals, per­son­al­i­ty and attrib­ut­es. Also include a sum­ma­ry of the brand’s typ­i­cal cus­tomer. Try to use “visu­al” words: words that sug­gest imagery. With these and the brand name itself, you can cre­ate intrigu­ing con­nec­tions in the brain­storm­ing process. Things should get crazy.

Brain­storm­ing / word asso­ci­a­tion (Leah Yee)

I notice that design stu­dents often get attached to one or two ideas ear­ly in the process. The key is to cre­ate many ideas with­out assess­ing them. Remem­ber what I said about a designer’s impulse to cri­tique? Every­one has it. When brain­storm­ing and sketch­ing, you must muz­zle your inner crit­ic.

Stay tuned as we will con­tin­ue our look at the idea stage of logo devel­op­ment …