When you design a new logo, you invariably hear it all… and everyone has an opinion. Now, I could give you an essay on what makes a strong logo. It’s relevance and meaning, the finer points of typography, colour theory, and the designers fave… “white space”. But the thing with logos is that doesn’t matter to most people. When you see a logo, you tend to have an opinion – most often, you simply like it or you don’t… it’s a gut reaction.
If it’s a memorable logo it conjures up images of great products and by extension, top companies – Coke, (sorry Pepsi), RE/MAX, Apple, Nike, Shell, Mercedes, we all know their products, but the name probably conjures up an image of their logo as well – it’s their mark, their recognizable (and memorable) image that is the visual representation of their company.
With that in mind, we hope that our new logo does the same. That it becomes a recognized image that represents a great brand experience. You’ve probably seen it on our blog already, it’s on our videos and will start to appear in more places as we grow… fast!
Creating a logo is a great design problem and although logo design isn’t easy, it doesn’t have to be rocket science either… so here a few DO’s and DON’Ts from our experience, to help smooth your next logo efforts (and a bit of insight into our process along the way).
1. DO write down the criteria for you logo – so everyone agrees on what the logo needs to accomplish (it takes many of the subjective arguments out of the equation).
RPR: Among ours were that the logo: Works in multiple color spaces (1 col, 2 col, 4 col, web); has the ability to resize (from billboards to 16 x 16 pixel favicon); works online, in print, on TV and signage; doesn’t use obvious real estate imagery (we view ourselves more as a tech company than anything else); expresses the forward thinking nature of our new company.
2. DO look for inspiration… logo books, logo websites like the LogoDesignLove blog and logopond, or even sibling brands from your company to help you define your style. Modern or sophisticated might mean different things to different people so showing an example is clearer.
RPR: By the way, the RPR typeface is a familial nod to our 2nd Century Ventures cousin… it’s a tweaked version of Broadband, available from fonts.com
3. DON’T!! – jump straight onto a computer … instead grab a pencil and start doodling (or a martini and a napkin works pretty well too!) … try to get a lot of ideas down quickly because no matter how fast your Mac is, it will cramp your creativity as your ideas will be defined by what you know you can do in Photoshop or Illustrator.
RPR: We went through a whole pad of Postits (and a few napkins) and ended up with about 50 ideas before we started to develop and narrow down our choices on the computer.
4. DON’T make a snap decision – if you’re not happy, keep working at it. Once you’ve narrowed your logo choices to 2 or 3 leaders, take them home, live with them overnight, and get some other opinions.
RPR: I thought we were done a couple of times until I showed ideas to our team… DO involve others – it can make things a little slower, but you’ll end up with a better logo.
5. DO dig deeper. Go back to your criteria and ask about the logo’s meaning… Why that color? That shape? Does it work in black and white? Is it meeting your needs and requirements? Make sure you see examples of how it might look on your website, letterhead, or marketing material – even a trade banner
RPR: The 4 points/colors on our icon represent our 4 cornerstones… data, learning, new products and social media …
6. DO be realistic. Creating a logo is easy, creating a good one is a lot harder than you think… go hire a professional if you can – there are lots of talented designers out there – and although you don’t need to hire Michelangelo, do you really want to trust your company branding to something your friend’s kid promised to knocked together for $50?
RPR: When all was said and done, it took about a month to get to a logo we were happy with.
7. DON’T stress if you don’t have a big budget – If all else fails there are several websites that you can buy pre-made logos (like pixellogo and brandstack) from – some are great, some are pretty lame, but go back to that criteria and choose one that meets those requirements.
RPR: We use stock art all the time from istock or fotolia but we go an extra step and combine several images into something more specific and unique to us.
8. DON”T forget, you’re not going to please everyone – but that’s not the point. If your logo meets your criteria and is unique, usually simple, memorable, and represents you well, you’re done… move on. Because ultimately, you’re only as strong as your products.
And by the way, as we’re talking logos, allow me to apologize on behalf of my native countrymen for the 2012 London Olympic logo.
Neil Pinchin is RPR’s Design Director and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org