5 tips for a good logo
Do your homework
When it comes to designing a logo, the idea is everything. It’s alright to draw a clumsy emblem or use Comic Sans as a typeface, as long as the idea is clever enough to make my logo memorable. I do my best to make sure it connects with my client’s business, resembles the spirit of the company and creates a clear statement on what the company represents.
As long as abstract associacions can work for some clients sometimes, I always do the research first, before I even start sketching my initial ideas. The aim is to get to know my client’s business, his expectations towards the new branding, get to know the industry he’s operating in. Doing your homework before you start will help you find elements that are tightly connected to your client’s world. You get the idea about the ecosystem the company evolves in and you can better understand its problems.
Glase is a swedish FinTech company with its roots deep in Scandinavian history and tradition. The name goes back to Norse Mythology and my idea for the brand was to resemble and underline company’s origins. I’ve combined iconic style of Futhark rune alphabet with the story behind Glasir – the golden tree outside Odin’s hall from which the company took its name. The final design was a logo that represents both tree and a leaf. I’ve also chosen a set of colors that would underline luxury and wealth – golden pantone against a very dark blue background.
First ideas hardly ever work
This happens to me all the time. I think about the project, then I sketch my first ideas which I always find stupid and ugly after time. I’ve learned not to get attached to my first ideas, it’s ok to be wrong at the beginning. It’s actually a part of a process. The sooner you throw out some shitty pitches from your head and onto the paper, the sooner you’ll find the right way to develop a good idea. Believe me. It works every time.
So, don’t get too attached to your initial sketches. Sleep on them and look at them the next day. Show them to your friends and try to explain your idea behind it. This will often expose gaps in your thinking process and will verify if your idea is really as great as you think.
Use basic shapes
Believe it or not, you can create literally anything using basic shapes only. It’s how you combine them that makes the difference. I often play around with overlaping circles and rectangles, I try to rotate them around cutting shapes in and out to find a perfect solution. Using basic shapes and making sure the scale of all elements is ok in relation to each other, will make your logo more consistent and uniform.
To me, a perfect logo is a logo that even someone with absolutely no talent can easily draw with a pencil on a piece of paper. That is why I always try to keep things simple and play around with emblem’s shape.
Some time ago I’ve been approached by Espiga – a polish manufacturer of industrial baking ovens for bakeries and pastry shops. They were looking for a way to rebrand their old company image. Since they often use steel elements to deal with high temperatures, my idea was to combine the heat of the ovens and the cold of steel into a blue flame in their new emblem. Even though I’ve used only basic shapes and 45-degree guidelines, I have managed to come up with an interesting shape with good proportions and with quite an obvious message.
Use grids and guidelines
Using modular grids and pre-defined guidelines helps to keep the overall design consistent. Make sure to use the same thickness for all lines and strokes. Try not to differentiate them too much. Use one consistent stroke, two if you REALLY need to. Avoid freehand drawings when creating final versions of your logo. The most attractive and appealing logos always come from a combination of basic geometric elements and always require a firm structure behind the design.
For custom angles, try to use the same angle value across your design. Copy – paste guidelines to make sure all angled elements point at the same direction and match each other. You might need to build a separate mesh for this, but it pays of later on when you need to adjust some details and all elements fit together.
Horizontal / vertical grid, angled guides and basic shapes let you create any design you want. Really. Just be a bit creative with combining shapes and be consistent with stroke widths, gutters and margins.
I always use detailed grid and strict rules when it comes to iconography. This is a bit more difficult than designing a single logo, since all the icons should be a part of the same set ang go well together, no matter where you need to use them. For Seqr I’ve designed a custom grid with a custom stroke line thickness. This helps to make sure the icon will always be legible and design guidelines are flexible enough to create a desirable level of details.
Adjust your typography
Many designers often forget typography is as important as the logo itself. Choosing a random typeface for your design is often not enough. Remember, typography is also a part of brand ID and it sometimes needs to be tweaked to match the company character. Some advice I can give you – go with non-serif typefaces. They’re more legible in different sizes and can be easier incorporated into your design grid. As long as it is really necessary to use a serif typeface for your client, try to pick simple, legible fonts. There’s plenty to choose from.
Keep in mind that even when you choose your typeface, it may not be 100% compatible with your design. There is often a different kerning between the letters, they’re sometimes a bit off, or the characters simply need some adjustment.
Once you pick your typeface, approach it as any other graphic element in your logo. Adjust kerning, move the characters around to make them match you grid, try to cut some something out here and there to make the logo typography more interesting.
Last but not least, keep in mind this is only theory. Practice makes perfect and the more you practise the better designer you will become. However, setting up some ground rules for your design always helps. Keep in mind designing a good logo is more of a craft than art!
Again, an example based on Glase branding. I’ve chosen a logo typeface very carefully. Then, I have played around a bit with letter kerning, characters’ height and added a small graphic detail to letter A to add a certain angle to the typography. Thanks to these simple tricks, the name can be a stand-alone representation of the brand when there is no place for an emblem.