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Logos are important. They’re a window into your brand; the silent, omnipresent face of your business. They can be part of the reason why someone clicks onto your website instead of your nearest competitor’s. They can make people trust you, or distrust you, or think you’re not worth their time. Logos can say a lot without saying anything at all.

A successful logo can do a lot of good for your business, and the key to a successful logo is good design. So here are 10 steps to designing a top-quality, effective, and attractive logo.

1 – Understand the business

Whether you’re designing for you own business or someone else’s, you must understand the core of the business. What does it stand for? Who is it aimed at? What are its core values? And what market does it serve?

When it comes to designing an effective logo, you can’t move forward without first understanding the basic tenets of the business-in-question. Otherwise, you won’t know where to begin. And when you do finally make a start on your design, you’ll likely be cobbling it together on a wing-and-a-prayer, using fonts and colours and visuals that don’t necessarily represent the business.    

By first understanding the brand, we can begin the design process with confidence and integrity.

That way we can laser-focus our creative efforts instead of throwing stones in the dark.

2 – Utilise the brand’s personality

All brands have a personality, whether it manifests through your products, services, or just in the way you do business. Communicating that personality is an extremely effective way of gaining new clients and building rapport with existing ones. And, more often than not, there are ways of incorporating your personality into your logo design.

Probably the most common and widely recognised method of integration is through the use of a tagline. Think of “Just Do It”, “Have It Your Way”, “Kids And Grown-Ups Love It So. . .”. What do all these taglines have in common? Not only are they instantly recognisable, but they perfectly encapsulate the personality of the brand they represent.

3 –  Make it simple and memorable

When it  comes to design, simplicity and memorability go hand-in-hand. And this is especially true when it comes to logo design.

There are lots of logos in the world. Whether we’re browsing the internet,  watching TV, or walking down the high street, we’re constantly exposed to them. So, naturally, we ignore the majority of them. And the ones we filter out will more than likely be the more complex, poorly designed, less striking ones.

So, in order to be memorable, your logo needs to be simple and recognisable. Your aim should be to make it identifiable with a single glance. Think: golden arches.

And if you can strip your logo all the way back to a single icon or symbol, all the better. If you can conceive an image as stark and bold as, say, the legendary Nike tick, then it will always stick in people’s minds. 

4 – Make it iconic

Speaking of iconic. . .

It might be a bit of a grandiose aspiration, but an iconic logo is a surefire way of securing brand recognition. Think of the most iconic logos in the world and they all have one thing in common: they’re wearable. And by wearable, we don’t just mean on T-shirts and caps, but on anything that’s ever on display. Calendars, pens, notepads, coasters, etc. These are all things that small businesses utilise through direct marketing and networking.

Now call to mind the worst logo you’ve ever seen. If someone handed you a pen with that logo printed all over it, chances are you’d put it straight in the drawer and never use it. But the adverse is also true. If you hand someone a nice pen displaying a beautiful and bold logo, they’ll think it’s a quality pen and might even use it.

From a small business perspective, this is what’s meant by “iconic”. So you might not have a wide enough reach for your logo to be truly iconic, but you can take inspiration from iconic brands in terms of the quality and “wearability” of your logo’s design.

5 – Keep it relevant

When it comes to designing a logo, it’s crucial that it stays relevant to the brand.  

The actual look of your logo needs to align perfectly with the style and nature of your brand. An exaggerated but useful example would be to imagine an accountancy firm with a Comic Sans logo. That would definitely not be in-keeping with the nature of their business, and would be actively off-putting. So you need to think about what look fits your business best. 

6 – Use shapes wisely

Adding to the above point, shapes are a fantastic tool which can be utilised to communicate relevant characteristics.

Circles represent care, friendship, support, unity, and community. Squares and rectangles represent reliability, strength, stability, and balance. And triangles equate to power (often associated with law, science, and religion).

7 – Consider colour

Often overlooked, colour plays a huge (though subconscious) role in how a logo is perceived. We’ve talked about colour on the blog before, and how its proper application culminates in strong and effective design. But it’s worth mentioning again because it really is a key point.

Each colour comes with its own palette of emotions. From optimistic yellows to peaceful greens, the whole gamut of human emotions can be evoked from the colour spectrum. Choose yours wisely, and be sure that it speaks honestly to the flavour and personality of your brand.

Colour also works wonderfully well for communicating your brand’s core values. With a classic (if slightly overused) example of this sort of design-value alignment being the use of green colours for an eco-friendly brand.

8 – Present a unique aesthetic

For a logo to really stick in people’s minds it needs to be one-of-a-kind. Something that couldn’t be mistaken for anything else. Think of the image that represents Shell. That bold red and yellow…shell. You could probably sketch it from memory. And if you saw it on a poster, just the symbol, you would know immediately who the company was.

Also note how the shell is highly stylised. They didn’t just use an image of a real shell. Instead they created a symbol that is extremely simple in its design, easy on the eye, and very recognisable. 

9 – Cultivate flexibility

Wherever your business goes, your logo goes. This means that it needs to look the part in any size and in any environment. Whether it’s on the side of a van, the top of a letter, or the bottom of a magazine ad. 

A surefire way of achieving flexibility in your logo design is by using only one or two colours. This minimises the amount of visual noise, and in doing so helps to keep your logo looking clean and attractive on a smaller scale.

The one/two colour rule is being utilised by many of the most famous and successful companies out there today. Coca-Cola, Nike, Apple, and Virgin are just a few examples. Here it is applied to my own work.

Remember: a logo should look as good on a billboard as it does on a smartphone screen. So make sure it’s optimised for both large and small scales.

10 – Don’t be complacent

Despite its undeniable importance, your logo isn’t the be-all and end-all of your PR and marketing efforts. It goes a long way to getting customers through the door, but ultimately it’s not responsible for the quality and delivery of your product or service. It’s the bait on the hook, not the arm reeling in the line.

Another symptom of complacency is in failing to develop a logo over time. No matter how effective it may seem now, there will always come a time when your logo needs updating.

We only need to look around at some of the largest, most profitable businesses in the world to see that even the best logos are impermanent. Take Apple, for example, whose iconic logo has evolved through no fewer than five iterations

It’s important for us to recognise this need for evolution, and to always be ready and willing to make changes.

It’s all in the logo

For more on logos, why not check out 7 Simple And Effective Logo Designs To Inspire Your Inner Minimalist.