Effective logo design is not the same as “logo design.” There is a varying degree of quality when it comes to the effectiveness of a logo design.
These days, its seems like everyone and their granny is offering cheap logo design as a service which is quite worrying, as your logo is integral to your brand.
Cheap logo design is not effective logo design.
Here’s the difference:
We’re not here to whinge about people offering to design logos for cheap. We’ve been over it before, and it’s time wasted here.
If you want to refresh your memory, check out our posts about the value of design and what goes into building a great client/agency relationship.
Today we want to get down to the nitty gritty of what makes an effective logo design, and how you can get the right, most effective logo design for your company.
First things first, let’s clear up two things.
- What is logo design?
- What defines effectiveness?
What is Logo Design?
A logo design is a symbol, mark, or word mark, that is used to visually represent your business.
That’s all there is to it. Your logo design is a visual representation of your business, normally in it’s simplest form.
If you’re looking for more in-depth investigation into the question, then check out our post What Is Logo Design? where we take a deep dive into that question.
What Defines ‘Effective’?
The dictionary definition of effective is:
“Successful in producing a desired or intended result.
In this case, the desired result is that your business has an effective logo design and people begin to recognise it.
What is Effective Logo Design?
An effective logo design is a logo that works as an identifier or signifier of your brand.
Effective logos do three things:
- Build trust and brand recognition
- Make your company or brand stand out from the competition
- Visually represent your brand in the most basic form
The most common trait of effective logo design, is building trust and brand recognition.
In the same way as you would notice the McDonalds logo on a darkened motorway, or the Starbucks logo in a crowded city centre, you want people to recognise your logo. That’s when you know it’s truly effective.
To start down the right path, you need to…
1. Know What Elements Make An Effective Logo Design
An effective, professional, logo is made up of several key elements and ideas. These elements and ideas work together to form a great looking and effective logo.
The five principles of effective logo design are:
The best logos in the world are memorable. Even by just reading the names, you’ll probably see the logos:
Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Nike. Red swirly typography, golden M, tick. Easy.
If your logo isn’t memorable, then it isn’t effective.
The best and most effective logos are unique and leave a lasting impression. After all, what good is a company or brand if you can’t remember who they are?
Memorable logos are simple logos. There’s nothing fussy about McDonald’s golden arches, Apple’s apple, or Nike’s tick.
Simple but effective logos help build brand loyalty and customer recognition. The easier your logo design is to recognise, the more effective it is.
There’s a great quote about simplicity in design from French writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupery:
A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
It’s easy to over design your logo design. But it’s important to keep simplicity in mind. It’s very tricky to reduce your core concept down to it’s most basic form. But that’s what you need to do if you want an effective logo design.
Effective logos are simple logos. That’s what you should be striving towards.
Versatility is of the utmost importance, especially in the 21st century where brands are highly visible across of range of media.
It’s important that your brand’s identity can function at the top of a letterhead, on a business card, as a mobile app icon, as a social icon and more.
And again, this is why simplicity is important.
If your logo is elaborate and fussy, it’s not versatile. You need versatility in your logo design so you can adapt it for use across multiple platforms.
Your logo needs to be appropriate to the type of business you run.
If you’re a funeral director, you don’t want smiling happy faces in your logo design. Or, if you run a kids play area, it wouldn’t be appropriate to use scary imagery.
For a funeral directors, you’d probably opt to go with calm, comforting colours and a professional looking typeface. For a kids play area, you might want to consider something bright, bold and colourful.
Take The United Nations logo for example. It’s quite compelx and involved, but it’s entirely appropriate. It sums up exactly what The UN is about.
You might not want to outline exactly what it is you do within your logo. In fact, doing that is a terrible idea if you have a bigger vision for your brand.
McDonald’s don’t show images of burgers. Nike don’t have a pair of trainers (or sneakers) in their logo. Yet both companies have effective logos.
And it’s a good job, because that’s not all they sell these days! If they had included the product they sell in their logo, they could have accidentally restricted their growth.
Be appropriate when choose your logo design, and don’t restrict yourself.
One of my pet peeves is seeing “Top Logo Design Trends for 2100” and “The Best Logo Ideas To Take Your Business Into 2100” type posts.
An effective logo design is timeless.
A strong brand identity isn’t built around design trends. Trends come and go faster than day and night in the design industry.
Soon your logo will end up looking out of date, and suddenly you’re back to square one.
If you opt for a “trendy” logo design, you’ll need to rebrand your company in the future. And then again, and then again.
Effective logos are timeless logos.
2. Know Your Target Audience
If you did a scan of the keywords on the Canny Creative blog, I think “target audience” would be one of our most used phrases.
And with good reason! You need to know your target audience inside and out.
Your logo design is not for you (more on that later), it’s for your target audience.
It’s important that you take the time to identify your target audience, and relay that information to your chosen designer or design agency.
How Do You Identify Your Target Audience?
People fit into one of four categories when it comes to analysing your audience:
- The Person That Pays You
- The Person That Influences The Person To Pay You
- Your Supporters
- Your Detractors
The first person on the list, the person that pays you, should be your key focus, followed closely by the people that influence them to pay.
And personally, I’d ignore your detractors. Negative energy just isn’t worth the effort.
Think about who it is that pays you, and who influences them to pay you. Then open up a new document and start making notes.
Include things like; name, age, gender, job role and description, hobbies and interests.
If you haven’t started developing your target audience yet then check out our free customer persona worksheet which walks you through the process.
Start by listing out your existing clients in this format, and then progress onto creating made up personas. You need to go into great detail.
I often find when creating personas, that finding an image of “the person” online and adding it into my document really helps me!
Neil Patel has a great guide to defining your target audience, I suggest you give it a read.
3. Put Your Personal Taste Aside
A designers role isn’t to create something that pleases the client. It’s to create something that our client’s customers can get behind and want to buy into.
“Clearly understanding your audience, sector, and end user, alongside the idea of form and function, is absolutely key. It’s not about what you like; it’s about understanding what your audience will buy into.” – Glen Millen, Creative Director at Canny
Personal taste often creeps into logo design in the form of colour. It’s not often we have a client that has a preference of font, but colour is often commented on.
If your favourite colour is pink, that’s great. But, you’re creating leather jackets for 40-60 year old Harley Davidson riders?
Keep the colour pink as far away from your brand as possible.
Sure, that’s an extreme example. But consider the meaning behind certain colours and try to put your personal taste aside.
A lot of banks and big financial companies use the colour blue, as it represents trust. Red signifies passion and excitement, but be careful, because it also represents danger.
It’s best to keep your personal taste as far away from design projects as possible. Think with your head and not your heart, and you’ll be heading down the right path to an effective logo design.
4. Pick The Right Designer or Agency
It’s important that you choose the right designer or agency to help create your logo design and brand identity.
Ask yourself the following things when you’re looking for a designer or design agency to help with your logo:
- Experience, Track Record and Portfolio – Do they have a proven track record of logo design and branding projects? How long have they been going? How strong is their portfolio? Do you like their work?
- Testimonials – Do they have testimonials from existing clients? Do they have Google Reviews? What are other people saying about them?
Once you’ve made contact with several different designers or agencies, take note of:
- Timeframe – How long will it take them to do the work vs how quick you need the work?
- Price – How much does a logo design cost? Remember, it’s unlikely that the cheapest option will be the best!
- Professionalism and Communication – How quick do they communicate with you? Are they professional, casual, a little too casual?
- Questions Asked – How engaged do they seem with the potential project? Do they want to know more about you and your business?
Picking the right design agency can be tricky. Is your job a one off, or are you looking for a long term creative partner?
If it’s a one off job, perhaps a freelancer is the right way to go. If you’re looking to forge a longer term relationship, then it’s time to look at working with a design agency.
5. Let Your Designer or Design Agency Do Their Job
To ensure you have an effective logo design, no matter if you’ve hired a freelance designer or boutique design agency, you need to let them do their job.
Once you’ve appointed someone to design your logo, it’s important that you let them do exactly that.
Give them all of the information they need about your company and your target audience, and let them get to work!
Just like you wouldn’t pay a mechanic and then tell them how to fix your car, don’t pay a designer and tell them how to design your logo.
They’ve had years of training, you loved their portfolio, and by the time you go ahead with your project, you should be 100% confident in them delivering the goods.
You’ll have your chance to provide feedback throughout the logo design process. Until then, keep in touch with your designers, but don’t interfere or start “pixel pushing.”
Pixel Pusher: A design client who attempts to take over the creative process by telling the designer to “move this over here” or “delete this”, and results in ruining the whole thing altogether.
Get to know your designers or chosen agency, and trust them and their decisions. It can be a great journey if both parties are pushing in the same direction!
6. Ask The Right Questions
When you’re presented with the first draft of your logo design, it’s important to ask the right questions.
Ask yourself, is your logo still effective if it is…
- Printed in one colour? – This is one of the techniques used to create a timeless logo.
If it works as one colour, whilst still communicating a concept, you have a strong and effective logo design.
- Printed in reverse colour? (e.g, white on black rather than black on white) – Sometimes your logo will be reversed out, so check it works both ways.
- The size of a postage stamp or social avatar? – More often than not, your logo will be seen as people scroll through their social feeds.
- As large as a billboard? – On the rare ocassion your logo is seen at scale, it needs to look as sharp and crisp as it does when it’s smaller.
- With and without the typography? – Often, your logo mark will become isolated from the wording that accompanies it. So it’s important that both work in isolation.
Keep reviewing the core principles we outlined in point one to familiarise yourself with what makes an effective logo design and revert back to them.
Below is a logo that we designed for our client, YardLink. To make sure it’s effective, we created an emblem that works both with and without typography, and can be blown up into a large billboard.
Again, it’s about making sure your logo works practically – simply looking ‘good’ isn’t enough.
Check out the full case study here
If at any point, you feel like your design team have lost the vision of what you’re trying to create, give them a friendly reminder.
Here’s a bonus tip:
When you’re seeking feedback, don’t ask your parents, grandparents, partner or dog. Unless they’re your ideal target audience, you’re looking for feedback in the wrong places.
Sure, your family and closest friends will be excited by what you’re creating, so show them. But their feedback shouldn’t affect your logo design at all.
7. Apply Your New Logo Design Correctly
This tip is a reinforcement of something we’ve talked about throughout the post. Versatility.
Versatility is key when it comes to creating an effective logo.
Think about all of the different situations your logo could be seen:
- At the top of your website
- In printed stationery
- On promotional items and marketing materials
- On vehicles
- In email signatures
- Across social platforms
- On exterior shop signage
- In among other products on a shelf
And that’s nowhere near a complete list.
Your logo needs to work at 1cm x 1cm and 1000cm x 1000cm. It’s a crazy world we live in.
Most of your brand interactions will come through a device such as a tablet or phone. And that’s why it’s important your logo design can adapt.
It’s a good idea to separate your logo mark from your typography or font choice. It’s also useful to have both horizontal and vertical lockups of your logo if possible.
That way you can cover as much ground as possible without having to create unique designs for every single situation.
Take a look at Asana’s logo for example:
Having a logo that works both horizontally and vertically will massively increase the effectiveness of your logo.
Because of it’s versatility, there are fewer occasions on which you need to tinker with it. This means your logo design is consistent across a variety of platforms, and consistency helps to grow recognition.
7 Steps to a More Effective Logo Design
Logo design isn’t a “one size fits all” type solution. And it’s not cheap. Design is an investment for your business, and should be viewed as such.
Creating an effective logo design should be left to the professionals. Perhaps you’re a marketing manager and you’ve been tasked with this job but you’re unsure what direction to go in. Getting this right is key, as effective logos are essential when you’re trying to build brand recognition and loyalty.
So, how does your company logo look? Is it effective? Or are you in need of a brand audit?
At Canny, our focus is on building great relationships with our clients. We like to communicate regularly and work together over longer periods of time.
We firmly believe that the best relationships produce the best design work, and that’s why it’s important to grow a relationship together.
If you’re interested in building a relationship with a professional design agency, then talk to us.