7 simple rules for logo design success

Allison S. Gremillion

Creating a company’s logo is not easy. But by gaining a solid understanding of the best practices, the process can become less of a strain. To succeed at designing logos, follow these simple and effective logo rules.

1. Sketching concepts

mailchimp logos
MailChimp logo by John Hicks

Repeat after me: “Sketching is the most important stage of design. Sketching… important.”

It can compromise the quality of your final design if you go straight to the computer after reading a brief. Usually, the final design ends up looking generic or feels computerized.

It’s a good habit to research the client’s company after reading a brief, and absolutely crucial to let your ideas flow by sketching a variety of thumbnails on paper. To be an effective designer, you should spend more time on this step than any other step of the design process.

Learn how to turn your sketches to vector art in this article.

2. Keeping it simple

Simple logos by bo_rad and vraione

It is important that your logo is recognizable when it’s scaled up or down. Your logo needs to be clear and demand attention even if it’s the size of a 110 x 80 pixels Facebook ad.

You should test your design in all sizes. Print it on a business card or blow it up to a billboard size. Check to make sure the font is still legible especially if it is a thin script font.

If you can hardly recognize your logo at a smaller scale, try working your graphic down to its essentials. For example, if your graphic is a detailed panda, take out unnecessary elements such as its eyes. Then, use a few shapes to construct the panda’s body.

3. Choosing the correct colors

color in logo design
The MessageBottle logo by bo_rad uses simple colors that allow the logo to stand out easily. Avoid neon, since it’s harder to read.

The topic of color can get pretty complex, but here are some basic rules to consider:

  • Don’t use more than three colors. Keep it simplistic.
  • Avoid bright neon as well as light colors. These colors tend to disappear at smaller sizes.
  • Design your logo in black and white then decide on the colors. If it doesn’t look good in black and white, it will not look any better in color.
  • Keep in mind that colors evoke different emotions and moods. Use colors that capture the company’s personality.

Tip: Kuler.com is a useful site to check out if you need help finding cool color schemes.

4. Great typography is key

wordmark logo design
Make sure your text is simple and legible. -Dan’s South Slope logo is a great example of typography with both personality and clarity.

 

Typography is so significant that it can make or break a logo design. A designer should test a few dozen fonts before choosing “the one.” Take time on your font choice and avoid common fonts – this will help distinguish your designs from amateur designs.

Don’t use more than two fonts and make sure they are legible when scaled down. If you really want to make the company stand out, be unique and customize a font.

In case you missed it, here are 5 basic rules on typography.

5. Say no to effects

Aviso

Aviso by ironmaiden™

Effects can be a nice addition to a logo, but don’t get carried away. Your logo should look great without a drop shadow or gradient effect. Both of these effects will make your logo look dull and blurry.

It is okay to play around with filters and effects in programs like Photoshop, but there is a time and place for them. The effect should be an ADDITION to your already awesome logo!

6. Balance elements

BalanceLogo1

 

Our minds naturally enjoy balance so it’s important that the elements in your logo balance with each other. Here are a few key rules to remember:

  • Play around with the size and line weight of each text and graphic. For example, if your text has bold to thin lines, then your graphic should have a similar bold to thin feel.
  • Flip your design upside down. This will help you notice if any areas are thicker or thinner than the rest of the logo.
  • Strive for a square layout. You want to compose the logo so it can be easily added to different mediums, like banners and letterheads, without making the space around it awkward.

7. Create original work

This rule is quite simple: don’t copy other designers.

Your work needs to be 100% original and not a combination of elements from others. Being original also means NEVER using stock or clip art in your designs.

As a designer, you need to distinguish your own style – this is what makes successful designers stand out from the rest.

The author

Allison S. Gremillion
Allison S. Gremillion

Based in San Francisco, Allison (Alli) Stuart works as Head of Community Marketing at 99designs. When she's not writing articles and communicating with designers, she is working on her Children's Book. She also enjoys extreme sports, like sky diving and traveling to new places. Alli has a Fine Arts Degree with a concentration in Graphic Design from Louisiana State University, her home. Geaux Tigers!

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