The top 10 logo design mistakes… and how you can avoid them

Preparing a logo to represent your company, brand, product, event, or anything else you’re trying to promote is one of the most crucial aspects of your success.  Your logo is the core of everything it represents and will create the first impression on how you are seen by the world.  It is what launches and guides all of your marketing efforts to reach the hearts and minds of your target market.

The logo is so important to the image of a company, event, or brand, that large corporations and organisations spend an astronomical amount of money to get it designed and created for maximum impact, usually spending hundreds of thousands of dollars–and often in the millions of dollars.  For example, British Petroleum (NYSE:BP) paid $4.6 million to develop their sunflower logo; and those handling the 2012 London Summer Olympics spent over $645,000 on their logo for just this one-time event.

Though the logo is so important to the larger companies and organisations that the amount spent by them in its creation seems to be of minimal concern, we know that smaller businesses or groups just cannot afford to pay that kind of money, so they have to make due with what is available.  Yet, it can still be accomplished with a relative degree of success if you know the basics of logo design.

Designing your logo is a task that still requires deep thought and creativity to come up with designs, shapes, colours, and fonts that best convey the image you wish to portray to your target market.  In the art and science of logo creativity there are common mistakes that are often made by those who don’t possess the marketing genius of a professional logo designer.

This special report is to provide you with valuable information on how to avoid those mistakes.

Below is our list of 10 common mistakes that you need to know to before you design your logo:

  1. Making it Too Complex

If you look at well designed logos of big companies, you will notice a common pattern of low complexity in their structure.  Many new designers complicate their logos by inserting too much detail, unnecessary words, and other content that crowds and confuses a representation that is supposed to be clear and precise.  When designing your logo, you need to take all of what you are and want to be, condense it into the smallest concepts and content possible, then convey it so that it enlightens those who perceive it with everything you want to tell the world.  In simple terms, keep it uncomplicated and precise so that it will make a more lasting and favourable impression.

  1. Conveying Vagueness

Remember, making a logo is not just slapping something together real quick because everybody else has one and you feel you need one too.  Your logo message should convey everything it represents to those who view it and not instead display some vague or non-existent concept or thought.  It needs to speak to them about what it represents, connecting with their thought process.  If it was created without any real concentration or thought, it may appear too vague and simply lose its power as one of your most valuable marketing tools.  If those who look at it can’t connect with your projected thoughts, then you have failed at creating an effective logo.

  1. Following Trends

If you notice a design trend in logos regarding the shape or some other aspect, you want to avoid using that trend in your logo unless it is absolutely necessary.  Following logo trends is not the way to design an effective logo.  Again, it is crucial to always remember that you are trying to effectively convey the thoughts and concepts of what your logo represents.  You want your logo to stand our as distinct and different than other logos, not emulate them.

Also do not copy the style of logos you admire just because they are successful.  Those logos convey the message about other’s concepts and thoughts, not yours.  Smart marketing is not trying to be like your biggest competitors, but rather trying to show how you are better because of the differences between you and them.  Create your logo with your message portrayed in its design, conveying your unique concepts and thoughts.

  1. Settling for a Monogram

A common mistake that is often seen in logo creation is the logo being built up with or around the monogram of initials that relate the name of what the logo is supposed to represent (e.g. DLS for Dave’s Logo Service).  Because it is difficult for simple monograms to convey much of anything to those who will view the logo unless it is already a recognized trademark, a logo should never begin with the utilisation of a monogram.  The process should begin with a concentration on the shapes and attributes meant to communicate your message.  Once you have developed the general shape, outline and structure of your logo, then you can contemplate whether or not to use the monogram somewhere in your logo if you really feel you need it.

  1. Relying too Much on Special Effects and Colours

Focusing too much on special effects and colour when designing your logo can interfere with keeping your primary focus on the logo design itself.  Because of this, colours and any special effects to be used should be chosen only after the shape and design is created.

Too many special effects can distract and blur the actual message you are trying to convey in your logo.  It is also advisable not to use special effects that take away too much from the design, such as drop shadows, embossing, and other layer styles.  The logo should be able to stand on its own if it has been created correctly.  If you feel you must use some special effects to effectively convey your message, then still use them sparingly.

Only after you have created the logo shape and structure should you add the colour.  Don’t rely on a bunch of different colours to make it pretty or bright, but instead focus on the colours that will serve to convey what your logo represents.  It is a well-know fact in advertising that specific colours can elicit different feelings and effect moods, even influencing thinking and behaviour.  It is suggested that you study the resources about colour and advertising that are available on the Internet before adding them to your logo.

  1. Using Too Many Fonts

You do not want the text in your logo to look like this sentence.  When using a large variety of fonts in your logo, it distracts from your message and muddles the whole thought process of those looking at it.  This mistake kind of ties into the point above about being too complex–keep it simple!  If you want to keep your message clear and precise, use a maximum of two fonts in your logo.

Also, if using two different fonts, be careful to select ones that go well with each other.  You don’t want two fonts that are so different that the contrast between them distracts from the message.  There may be an exception to this rule in the case where part of your message is a contrast that is somehow effectively communicated in these two different logo fonts, but that is highly uncommon in most logo usage.

  1. Selecting Predictable Fonts

There are some fonts that are known as default fonts (Arial, Time New Roman, etc.).  Though these are great in large bodies of text, they may not be your best choice for text in a logo.  The shape and style of a font can convey a lot in itself.  Spend some time carefully looking over the fonts and experiment with them, asking yourself which shape and style best conveys what your logo represents.  Bold, italic, serifs, strange twists and turns–all can communicate different thoughts.  Pick your fonts wisely.

  1. Making use of Ultra-Thin Fonts

This is our third warning on fonts. This is because the selection of the most effective font(s) is crucial when using text in your logo.  Ultra-thin or extremely light fonts should be avoided in logo creation.  There are important reasons for this.  Even if you can read them on your computer screen, they may not print out as nicely on paper, fabric or other promotional materials.  In addition, they are more difficult to read at a distance when displayed on something that is not held in the hands of the individuals you are trying to reach.

  1. Ignoring the Grayscale Factor

Another important part of logo creation that is often overlooked by the amateur is the inclusion of the “grayscale factor” when designing your logo.  In other words, you need to consider how your logo will look in black and white.  When faxed, copied, or printed in one colour, your logo may look very different.  Will it still convey the message you want?  Though it may not communicate your message quite as powerfully, you don’t want it to be lost altogether with the loss of colour.

As recommended above when discussing the mistake of relying on too many colours, first create the logo’s shape and structure, then add the colour.

  1. Using Unnecessary or Inappropriate Inclusions

When adding text to your logo, you should avoid the use of entity designations such as LLC, Co., Corp., or Inc.  If using your company or organisation name, drop the end designations and put the primary focus on the name itself.  Use text in a logo very sparingly and with thoughtful consideration for every word and every letter.

In addition, you should always avoid inappropriate innuendos or insinuations.  They will harm the logo’s ability to convey a crisp, clear message to your target audience.

Learning from the Mistakes of Others

This report has covered a large variety of topics in our focus on 10 mistakes people make when designing and creating logos.  These tips have been learned by the advertising industry over a long period of trial and error spanning decades into the past.  With this valuable information now in your hands, you can now move forward into the future with a better understanding of the whole logo creation process.

To sum up what you have learned in this report so far, remember these crucial logo design tips when making your next logo:

  • Don’t make it too complex
  • Don’t make it too vague
  • Avoid following trends or copying other logos
  • Don’t use a monogram unless absolutely necessary
  • Don’t rely too much on special effects and colours
  • Don’t use too many fonts–never more than two
  • Select fonts that really convey your message
  • Don’t use ultra-thin fonts
  • Take grayscale factors into consideration
  • Eliminate entity designations and inappropriate content

Designing a logo can be a time-consuming process when attempting to communicate a powerful message conveying desired concepts and thoughts.  But the time and energy spent in doing it correctly will pay off in the end with people who can understand and identify with whatever it is the particular logo is meant to represent.

Once you understand the basic logo fundamentals, such as the real purpose of the logo, what exactly it’s supposed to do, the necessary steps to create it, and the mistakes to avoid, creating an effective logo can be accomplished without much difficulty.  This report, when read thoroughly, should have provided you with all of that information.  The art of logo design and creation is actually rather easy once you know the complex factors involved.  In the words of one of the world’s most famous corporate logo designers, Paul Rand, “Design is so simple, that’s why it’s so complicated.”

Now you are prepared to design your logo and we are certain that it will be a much better creation–that it will more effectively convey your desired thoughts and concepts to your intended audience.  You’ll be proud that you spent the time and energy necessary to design a logo that has a strong feel of professionalism.

It’s time to take what you learned and put it into action.

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