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How to Know What You Want in a Logo Design

How to Know What You Want in a Logo Design

Getting the best logo for your business

Jeff Kear 

So you've decided you want a logo for your business. Now comes the hard part: Deciding what you want your logo design to look like.

If you're drawing a total blank or feel like you need some initial help, a good starting point might be the Internet. Browse around and find some companies in your industry; then look at their logo designs and determine what you like or don't like about them. After that, you might want to think about logos from companies both within and outside of your industry that have caught your eye. Hopefully this can get the creative juices flowing.

After you have formed a few initial ideas in your head, then you will need to start refining those ideas and whittling them down to the essentials. Here are a few pointers you will want to consider when doing this.

The Basics

Your Business Name

This may seem like stating the obvious (and it is), but it's worth mentioning anyways. Why? Because you should be specific in how your company name should appear in your logo design. So are a few questions you should ask yourself.

  • Do I want my name in all capital letters? Examples: MIME Group or AXIS Limited,
  • Would I like to see my business name abbreviated? Examples: RPG or AITA,
  • Do I have an unusual spelling? Examples: Xperience Partners, LongGone Services, UppTown Productions,
  • Does my name have odd punctuation? Examples: Tune/Out Broadcasts or &Solutions,
  • Do you want to include your incorporation status? Examples: Inc., Ltd., Corp.

Your Tagline

Some companies want to include in their logo design some sort of phrase or tagline to more clearly describe their brand or services. Others have a tagline but don't want it to be a part of their logo design. And many don't have a tagline at all. The choice is really a personal preference, so just go with what works best in defining your business' brand.

The Style

There are basically two types of logo designs from which to choose.

  1. Logotype – This is when the primary element of your logo design is the name of your business. This type of logo design conveys your brand through the style of the font (or fonts), the colors and any embellishments to or styling of the letters.
  2. Symbol – This is when the primary element of your logo design is an illustration or image, often followed by the name of your business underneath or to the side. A symbol usually reflects something about the personality of a business (e.g., a Roman gladiator for showing strength and courage) or the nature of its products/services (e.g., a tire shop may have a wheel in its logo).

Before you start your project, consider which of these styles (or combination of them) might best represent your company.

The Personality

Besides conveying your name, your logo design should also express the personality of your business. If you are a computer software firm that prides itself in being daring, modern and highly efficient, then your logo design should convey these attributes. If you run a family-owned plumbing service whose primary traits are stability and friendliness, then your logo design should reflect these traits.

An exercise that helps narrow down the personality of your business is to write down what you feel are all the traits of your business, and then from this list pick out the three or four traits that you feel are the most important to your customers. These are the traits you should provide to whomever is designing your logo so they are aware of the tone and personality of the intended design.

The Font

There are thousands upon thousands of different fonts available; the right fonts for your logo design are those that fit the personality of your business. There are two basic types of fonts:

Sans Serif Fonts – These tend to be very clean-looking, easy-to-read fonts, which is why two-thirds of most logos are designed with sans serif fonts. They often have rounded edges and more modern looking styling. Examples of these fonts are:

Arial Tahoma Veranda

Serif Fonts – These are more stately looking fonts and can be used for a more traditional or classic design. Examples of such fonts are:

Courier Garamond Times New Roman

A good way to see a selection of basic fonts is to type your business name into a Microsoft Word file and then play with the fonts. Let your designer know what kind of fonts you favor, but also let them experiment with several types because they may know of an obscure or hard-to-find font that is perfect for your logo.

The Color

Last but certainly not least is the color of your logo design. Many people often pick their favorite color as the main color of their logo design, which is not always a good idea. Let me explain...

First of all, rule of thumb is to include not more than 3 colors in a logo, with one or two colors being the preferred number. The idea here is that anything more than 3 colors makes for a busy logo design, and a busy design is hard to perceive and even harder to recall … both things you want to avoid.

The colors of your logo should help express the personality of your company. So the plumbing service mentioned above would be much better off using a bright color (yellow or orange = friendly) offset with a darker color (blue = stability). And the software firm might want to try blue (stable but also daring) or a combination of bright greens and yellows (both conveying a daring and modern feeling).

Also, keep an eye out for trends in your industry when it comes to colors. For example, the lawn service industry obviously has a strong leaning toward green logos. If you ran a lawn service business, you may want to consider using green in your logo design (as either a primary or secondary color) just so you can benefit from the positive built-in associations between this color and your industry.

Once you have considered all these things, you are ready to start the logo design process!


About The Author

myICON Design

Jeff Kear is Owner and Director of Client Services for myICON Design. In his decade-and-a-half in the industry, Jeff has created revenue-generating advertising and design for nationally recognized brands such as Budget, MetLife, Moosehead Beer, Qwest and Toyota. In addition to working for design firms and ad agencies, he has served as a marketing and communications specialist at Fortune 500 companies and holds a master’s degree from the University of Maryland.

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