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Logos – The Do’s and Don’ts.  Follow these simple logo guidelines to ensure you’re on the right path to branding success!

When the untrained eye glimpses a logo, the incredible amount of thought behind the design is often lost on viewers. Nonetheless, just because the public does not stop to consider the hours spent conceiving the emblem does not mean that its effectiveness is diminished. When executed correctly, a logo should personify an organization’s identity, as well as be unique enough to be easily recognized and remembered. However, this is all easier said than done. Below are the simple “do’s” and “don’ts” of corporate logo design, as well as examples of companies that either embody these lessons or failed to heed them.

Do: Keep things simple

Yes, you may be a blessed artist who is just waiting for the perfect opportunity to shine. However, a logo for a company is best when kept simple. 

There are countless companies that exhibit how there is beauty in simplicity, such as Nike, McDonalds, Facebook, Adidas and Spotify. What’s more, if you remove the wording around the symbol, the vast majority of consumers will still associate the emblem with its origins. While this can be accredited to the billions of dollars spent on marketing, it also reflects that we are more likely to remember a simple design over one that features excessive flourishes or colors. 

Evernote logo

A company that balances simplicity with creativity is Evernote. The minimalistic palette ensures that the icon will look as stylish if printed in black-and-white as it will showcased in color. What’s more, each line purposefully conveys the theme without being excessive. The triangle in the corner represents the “note” aspect, while the depicted elephant embodies the permanence and loyalty of the app. After all, “an elephant never forgets.”

Sunkist logo

Sunkist went overboard with the logo featured on the right. Many critics complained that it hurt their eyes, but this wasn’t even the worst part. This logo would not look nearly as handsome in black-and-white and, moreover, it’s too complicated to be attractive when printed smaller. A good emblem should be one that can be spotlighted by all promotional materials, no matter whether the logo is featured on a hoodie or custom printed on a watch’s face.

Don’t: Relying too heavily upon hidden meanings

For the record, there is nothing wrong with being clever. However, when the meaning of the logo is lost upon those that aren’t as astute as you, the emblem fails to achieve it’s purpose. After all, most individuals will simply glance at the design rather than spend uninterrupted stretches of time analyzing the meaning behind a configuration of dots. Therefore, if you do choose to incorporate subtlety into your design, make sure it is not the element upon which the main message is reliant upon.

Bronx Zoo Logo

A prime example of an organization that does this correctly is the Bronx Zoo. Upon first glance, you’ll see a pair of giraffes; however, you may notice that their legs also form a series of skyscrapers to represent the city. Plus, the white bird against the giraffe’s brown body naturally encourages viewers to pay special attention to the white silhouette. However, even if someone wasn’t to absorb the presence of the urban element, the meaning behind the animals aren’t diminished.

London Olympics Logo

An example of a designer that missed the mark is the mastermind behind the London Olympics logo. This controversial design caused a lot of grumbles amongst different audiences that brought their own meaning to the unattractive shapes; Iran even threatened to boycott the games because they interpreted the logo as spelling out “Zion.” While viewers were supposed to be impressed that the nonsensical, youthful forms vaguely spelled out “2012,” most were just turned off. Simply put, don’t make your viewers work too hard to draw a positive conclusion about your logo!

Do: Receive input from others

Obviously, if you spend countless hours fine-tuning the most minute details, you’re not going to be able to objective about the finished product. A fresh set of eyes can provide valuable feedback, and help you to avoid making serious gaffes like some of the ones below.

Pediatric center logo

Doughboys logo

Don’t: Stray from your brand identity

Disney logo

Disney has made hundreds of movies over the course of many decades, and yet it’s icon remains one of its very first characters, Mickey Mouse. Along with the amusement park’s famous castle, the cartoon and its easy-to-spot ears has remained consistently present from one generation to the next. Yes, they may be refreshed from time to time, but the general theme is never deviated from.

Animal Planet Logo

Animal Planet Redesign

There are plenty of companies that do unnecessary redesigns, often resulting in a logo that confuses the public. For many organizations, this can result in losing millions of dollars of potential profit. One logo redesign that was a step down belonged to Animal Planet. The original logo (top) was not the most creative, but it was efficient nonetheless. It conveyed a calm, friendliness through its rounded font and illustrations. In 2010, it traded in the logo for the one featured below. Suddenly, the iconic animal was gone. Plus, the personality was entirely altered; the squared, mis-sized lettering was much more harsh and seemed modernly unnatural. While not all visuals have to be literal, there was zero connection for viewers to make between the new icon and Animal Planet’s values of conservation and education. Thus, the logo redesign was met with negative reviews.

Of course, for every rule there will be exceptions. However, every amateur designer should understand the universally suggestions before deviating away from the set path. After all, bad logos are all too common an occurrence.

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