What makes a great logo? In order to design an effective logo, here are five important things to consider:

1. Stay unique – Every company is different in its own way, so every logo should be unique, right? Then why are there so many logos out there that seem to look like everything else? Could lazy design be a culprit? Lack of research perhaps? The most challenging part about designing a logo is producing something original. Something fresh. Almost every logo concept out there has been derived from a copy of a copy, inspired by an inspiration. Consider these three logos:

Telluride Foundation - Salvador Carnaval 2004 - Rio Olympics 2016

This story has been circulating the design world since the Rio Olympics 2016 logo was unveiled earlier this year. Its originality was put on the spotlight. Soon after, the two other logos were also called into question. Let’s take this a step further. Do you think the Nike Swoosh logo is an original design? Not quite. As I was (almost) desperately trying to find that one truly original logo design, I came across this article written by Graham Smith. It just goes to show that coming up with purely authentic ideas is the toughest challenge any designer will have to overcome.

2. Make it simple, memorable, and describable – Typically, when you think of a logo, a general shape comes to mind. If a mark becomes too complicated, with too many details, you have a more difficult time remembering what it looks like. When you hear “golden arches”, “a fruit with a bite mark”, or “red bull’s eye”, you already have a good idea of what company those logos represent. So, by keeping your logo design simple, people will more than likely remember it, and, in turn, recognize it immediately when they see it.

3. Keep it versatile – For most businesses, their logos will not only appear online, but on t-shirts, business cards, letterheads, banners, pens, mugs, and even as motion graphics (commercials, presentations, movies, etc). Not only will you need a logo that’s simple, you need a logo that’s versatile. First, the logo needs to be created using vectors, not pixels. This also makes it easier for logos to be edited later. Second, if there are any intricate details in the logo, it might get lost if it’s scaled down to a miniscule size. A good logo needs to withstand scaling of any size without losing important details. Furthermore, not only do we need to consider a logo’s versatility, but the colors chosen for the logo as well.

4. Shapes first, colors later – While colors certainly play an important role in logo design, designers need to put most of their efforts in conceptualizing, sketching, designing, and perfecting the overall shape of the mark. Since black and white delivers the strongest contrast, starting a design this way will help develop a more effective logo. If a logo relies heavily on color for impact and not the form, once stripped of the effect, it may not translate well to one color.

5. Use an appropriate font – One of the biggest mistakes a designer can make is using a typeface that does not complement the design of the logo and the company it represents (e.g. using bold, all-caps for a maternity clothing company, or an elegant script font for a car parts online store). Selecting the right typeface for a logo takes time and effort, but once you’ve achieved the perfect harmony between the logomark and the typeface, your overall design will look more cohesive.

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