Logo design can be intimidating. From conducting competitive research to selecting colors, fonts, and shapes, there’s a lot to decide.
To help you through the process — and create a standout identity for your business — we asked 16 branding experts for their best logo design tips. Read on for inspiration!
1. Prioritize simplicity over all else.
“The designer behind the famed Twitter bird icon once told me his core rule for logo design: ‘Only do one trick.’ I love this focused approach, as it forces you to prioritize simplicity and not over-design.
Some of the smartest businesses these days are those with the simplest solution to a solving a problem, and this philosophy carries through to the branding.”
– Leif Abraham, CEO & Co-Founder, AND CO
2. Avoid an intricate design.
“If I had to choose just one logo design tip, I’d advise choosing a design that isn’t too intricate.
A few times clients have chosen logos with a lot of detail, so when I’ve had to shrink it down for small artwork, such as display banner ads, or for fabric, such as polo shirts, the logo loses its impact and ends up looking blurry.
Take the lead from the big retailers: they tend to go for block-letter logos with simple colors, which look great at any size and are memorable.”
– Liz Jammal, Owner, Vivid Marketing
3. Align your logo to your brand promise.
“Translating positioning into a design is no easy task. My ultimate logo design litmus test is always:
Does the design deliver on the brand promise?
Does it translate the promise in a relevant way for the customer?
Does the logo make the promise credible?
If any of those questions does not get a full ‘yes,’ then the logo should be improved to address the specific combination of promise, credibility, and relevance.”
– Filiberto Amati, Partner, Amati & Associates
4. Be authentic.
“Your logo should be capable of reflecting the values of your company, product, or service. You are the brand, you are the source of the authenticity, and the logo’s job is to be a vessel for delivering those qualities to your public.
The logo is not what makes the company; in many ways, the company makes the logo. The Nike logo is nothing more than a checkmark unless it’s connected to the quality, stories, and marketing of Nike the company.”
– David Langton, President, Langton Creative Group, Ltd.
5. Limit creative flourishes.
“Resist the temptation to overwork your logo. So many young designers want to add a finishing touch to their creative logo design ideas, such as a gradient, glow, bevel, shadow.
Understand that the simplest logos are often the best logos. Subtract unnecessary elements until the logo represents the brand in its most basic form. And appreciate the fact that the simpler the logo design is, the more memorable it will be.”
– Paul Bies, President, Mystique Brand Communications
6. Design for the long-term.
“A logo should be designed with longevity and future use in mind. It should be created as a vector file for scalability, be legible even at a very small size, and use Pantone colors for consistency.”
– Jennifer Andos, Creative Director, Paperfish Creative
7. Analyze your competition.
“The biggest question I ask myself when critiquing logos is ‘What’s the competition doing?’ A lot of detail, research, and effort goes into logo design, and every single one of your competitors (at least those with established brands) have already gone through the process.
Are there any common fonts or colors? Is everyone trying to give off a similar impression, and if so, what is it? Businesses will pour tens of thousands of dollars into a design, and still end up with a logo that doesn’t represent themselves or their industry well.
Use your competitors’ decisions as a set of checks and balances to help you make better decisions (and likely save bundles in the process).”
– Kenneth Burke, Marketing Director, Text Request
“When going through the logo design process, the most important aspect is the research – discovering the character traits of the brand, the values, the positioning, and the tone that the brand wishes to convey.
Knowing that will help in guiding what type of logo to design, the style, the colors, and the variations and logo extensions. Once you have a feeling for that…iterate! Keep creating, changing, and tweaking until you have it right — you’ll know it when you see it.”
– Rob Cohen, Chief Strategy Officer, Penguin Strategies
9. Focus on your target audience.
“The best branding connects to the most specific target market possible — not everyone. A highly-focused visual directed at that target will connect the brand to the audience. The message, channel, and tone should all be based on traits of the best target demographic for that business.
Focus on who you’re attracting, not your own personal style or taste. Take yourself out of the design.”
– Kyle Golding, CEO & Chief Strategic Idealist, The Golding Group
10. Think about different applications.
“The most important thing to remember when designing a logo is to remember that digital is not print – just because a logo looks great on your website doesn’t mean that it will look good on your business cards, letterhead, wearables, and promotional products.
The best thing you can do when designing your new logo is to look at all possible applications you’ll be using and then consult experts. Talk to a printer and an experienced promotional products vendor to be sure that your new logo will work in all situations.”
– Anne Kleinman, President, Ad Infinitum
11. Ensure your logo works at a small scale.
“Logos today need to be both social media and web-friendly – gone are the days of intricate logos with lots of text.
You need a logo that can boil down to a simple symbol. Think about favicons, those tiny images at the top of your website’s browser tab – look how small those are. The best logos are legible even at that very small level.
Da Vinci himself once said, ‘simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.’ Quite true. The very best logos are clean, simple, yet powerful and recognizable even on a tiny scale.”
– Andrea D. Smith, Senior Brand Director, The ADS Agency
12. Design in a vector format.
“Always use a vector format, so you can resize it infinitely. Start your design in black and white and make sure to check the scale throughout your process, as it could appear on everything from a business card to a billboard.
Remember: if your logo is too complicated, it’s less effective. Whether it’s online or in print, you need to ensure it’s clear and concise.”
– Caroline Wisner, Lead Graphic Designer, Strazanac Solutions
13. Stand out with color.
“Firstly, it’s essential to know who your competitors are. That way you can gauge what colors and typefaces are currently being used.
Color is one of the most identifiable components of a visual identity, so if no competitors are using a specific color that’s relevant to your brand, it’s a color you can own as a business, which immediately allows you to stand out from the crowd with little effort.
Being aware of competitors’ logos also allows you to ensure a typeface is selected that’s not being used in the market. Just make sure that the chosen font has the correct associations to your business and brand — don’t be different for the sake of being different.”
– Ian Paget, Founder, Logo Geek
14. Avoid generic typefaces.
“If I had to provide a single most important tip in designing a logo, it would be to avoid common typefaces.
While this may be obvious to most designers, it’s not apparent to many companies and organizations. Unique typography in logo design is an extremely simple way to look professional.”
– Erik Pitzer, Graphic Designer, Illumine8 Marketing & PR
15. Get a second (or third) opinion.
“When you’re in the process of creating a logo, it’s possible that you may miss some important details. Always have a second pair of eyes to identify things that you might have overlooked.
Once you have your logo design concept, always make the time to check whether there are any hidden words, meanings, or even cultural misunderstandings. You don’t want to end up in someone’s ‘logo fails’ list.
Many design studios have a practice of pinning unfinished work or logo ideas up on the walls, so others can see it and share their opinion. But if you work alone, then try to find people (preferably from your industry) and ask them for feedback.”
– Ivan Spasojevic, Marketer, Ucraft
16. Make it memorable.
“As your company starts to grow, your brand will become one of the most valuable elements of your business. You have to create a story from the beginning that you can scale, and that your first few clients will still remember for what it represents and conveys.
There are of course many more components of a logo, but making it memorable is by far the most important thing. It’s what identifies you as a business and keeps you relevant!”
– Andres Tovar, Chief Commercial Officer, Noetic Marketer
p.s. Looking for more tips on how to design a logo? Check out some of our favorite logo color combinations!