Make the logo better not BIGGER!

Creating a logo design isn’t just about creating a pretty visual. Designing a new logo helps build on a organisation's brand. But logo design is about interpreting a brand position, it doesn't diffine it.

Remember, don’t confuse ‘logo’ with ‘brand’

A logo is the shorthand version of the brand; it personifies everything the brand stands for but in one short visual design. So getting that right can be very tricky. Here are a few tips to help get started on designs or help critique them.

Be a Clever Bastard

Some of the best logo design uses visual similes to represent the facet of the company, it’s name, or it’s values, or it’s products/services. By incorporating subliminal or subtle messages the intelligence and therefore the value of the design increases.

COM, London Symphony Orchestra + Mother & Child - Subliminal Design

Avoid Visual Clichés

I don’t think that “ownable” is a real word, but you nevertheless hear it quite a bit. So rather than following the herd and using a cliché design, instead strive for something that is uniquely recognisable. consider whether or not the design is generic or unique. 

Evernote - An elephant never forgets
Be ‘Negative’

Some of the best logo designs have hidden meaning in their negative space. A classic example is the Fed Ex logo, which uses the combination of the letters E and X to form an arrow in the negative space. There are many other great examples where a logo design looks ordinary at first glance, but reveals interesting and well-thought-out details on further examination. 

FedEx - The classic "hidden arrow'
Be Active, Not Passive

If the logo design facilitates it, consider adding a sense of movement to the design. This doesn’t mean you need to add cartoon-like motion lines, but rather think about the size, position and rotation of elements within your design the twitter logo had a subtle redesign giving it a more active, less passive composition. 

Twitter - The evolution is subtle but positive

If the design uses colour to convey meaning, think about how you can reflect that meaning when the colour is removed. this may mean changing the contrasting relationship between different elements. The colours chosen and the interaction between them can really enchance the overall design and is integral to the mood and tone.

McSubway - I'm eatin' it!
What the Font!

Fonts come in all shapes and sizes that resonate differently with strength (slab type fonts, big and powerful); class and style (fonts with elegant scripts or serifs); movement and forward thinking (type that is slanted). It’s not about just looking pretty: matching the qualities of the font - be it bespoke or off-the-shelf - to the qualities of the brand is what’s important here.

‍Ikea - Even more 'budget'
If in Doubt, Leave it Out

Reductionism applies to logo design as much as to all design. it’s a great technique for removing redundancy in any creative endeavour. If you can’t rationalise an element that’s part of the logo design, the chances are It needs to be removed. When the logo design is at its simplest, it’s probably at its strongest. Don’t try to make the logo design do too much: it doesn’t have to reflect every aspect of the company’s history or demonstrate what the product or service is. A restaurant logo design doesn’t have show food, McDonald’s doesn’t.

CostCo - Less is more
Lock it Up

A logo often comes with a tagline that conveys a brand message. Nike, for example, has its swoosh device with ‘Just Do It’ usually seen underneath. Both elements can work separately but when they exist together this is referred to as a ‘lock up’. It’s when both elements have a sense of cohesion between them. The rule to remember is not to rely on the tagline to make sense of the logo design or vice versa. the logo doesn’t necessarily have to be a visual representation of the tagline.

Nike - Done
Be Responsive

Simply reducing or enlarging a logo according to its context isn’t always the best solution. As the content area and device capabilities increase, you may need to add extra details to the logo graphic itself. The logo design may be amazing, beautiful, and stunning... but only on your 24in full HD monitor. Shrink that baby down to 100 pixels and what have you got? A little indecipherable splodge.

‍Favicons - Small, pixelated and unrecognisable
Always Show n’ Tell

Once a logo has been designed, send it round friends, family, colleagues etc for a bit of feedback. Look at it sideways, look at it upside down and reverse it. Look at it every which way you can... only then can you be sure that it stands up to scrutiny. You wouldn’t want another Office of Government Commerce (OGC) on your hands would you?

‍OGC - Tilt your head to the left


Daniel Hewlett

Daniel is a multi-award winning, strategically-driven creative director with over sixteen years integrated agency experience in both Europe & AsiaPac.