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 …