How can an average person determine a logo’s effectiveness, beyond a gut reaction?
I am in the process of hiring a graphic designer to design a logo for me, but don't know how to tell what makes a good logo. How do I know if a logo is right for me and my customers? What attributes should I look for?
All of these answers are correct and very insightful. But I have to admit as a designer, when it comes to designing your own logo, that gut feeling you have is so important. Mostly because a client or the public looks at your logo for only a second and if it gives you a knee jerk reaction that's negative then the logo has failed. But if it's instant love, you got a winner. That instinctual feeling you have when looking at your logo is so important because it's what the public will also feel when looking at it. So don't ignore your instincts when designing your logo. All of the answers given below are all correct but don't overlook your gut feeling. A logo is a visual communication of you and your product and if it can't convey what you want in an instant, it doesn't work. So you will know instantly whether the logo is right or if it's not. I hope this helps! Good luck and if your looking for a designer, I am free to help.
Hi, Caitlin — I have been a graphic designer since 1968 and have designed logos for hundreds of national, regional, and local clients, so I think I know a thing or two about the subject.
First of all, if you are the client, it is your money you are investing and that makes your gut reaction important, so I wouldn’t disregard it. In fact, you might lean on it a bit. You may not know graphic design, but you do know your business, and more important, your target customers and that information gives you a certain instinctive insight that your designer (if he or she is a good one) will tap into and use to interpret your needs into an effective design.
Here are some logo design essentials and suggestions:
(1) Make sure your logo is designed as vector art, not pixels. That means the original will most likely be created in a vector-based application like Adobe Illustrator. The reason vector art is so important is that you can reduce vector art to the size of a postage stamp or blow it up to fit the side of a barn, all without losing image resolution (all the edges will be crisp and sharp.) This flexibility is not possible with pixel-based artwork, which is normally created in Photoshop. So, bit of advice number one is, work with a designer that works in Illustrator rather than Photoshop.
(2) Most professional logo designers will provide you, the client, with three separate logo designs from which to choose (this is the standard logo package). The designer should show you these three separate designs with “Style Sheets” showing how these logos would look in (a.) full color (b.) grayscale, and (c.) black only. These (a., b., and c.) versions would cover all of the possible uses for the logo.
(3) Remember that you are paying not only for the three potential designs, but also for the dozens of designs that the designer has thrown in the trash because these rejects are NOT what you need. If you hired a professional, AND if you gave him/her a reliable “Creative Brief” that outlines your goals, target, desires, etc., then you can trust your designers judgement in this area (i.e., your designer should be able to explain to you why the submitted designs match the Creative Brief.)
(4) Think simple, simple, simple!—the best logos are simple ones, simple designs, simple typefaces. Avoid multiple gradients (or gradients at all, unless your designer knows what he/she is really doing and most important, can explain it to you.) Avoid typefaces that are (a.) hard to read (b.) are fads or trendy, and (c.) inappropriate for your product, service, or industry (i.e., using extra bold, heavy typefaces for a weight loss center, etc.)
(5) Avoid too many colors in your logo and make sure the colors are appropriate for your industry. Colors elicit emotions and you can familiarize yourself with these through a Google search. Red for example, would be inappropriate for a bank. Green, yellow-gold, dark blues and darker shades of grays would be better suited. Do you see?
Caitlin, I hope this helps, and I wish you the best of success with your project.
First my favorite guide is: Does your Logo Fumble or Win the Championship?
And then there are the "bread and butter" questions...:-)
Warmest regards, - The Pragmatic Web Designer
love many of the responses here. Good comments. You should get some ideas then refine them and then get a final design. The questions mentioned here should be answered in the final brand. You came to a designer to get design so you can do your job and not worry abut it. Let the designer ask you the right questions for them to research your company and what you are looking for. They should come back with a great design for your brand. Some tweaking may be needed but you should like it and feel proud that it was done by a professional. Colour choice font choice is not your field and this should be left to the designer to develop. Of course you should like the final result but don’t sweat the details, this is why you hired a designer because you have other things to take care of. The designer is there to take a load off of you and make you smile when you see the work in progress and specially the final brand.
If the designer you work with has any chops at all, the design they finally come up with should answer all those questions for you. A good logo designer should have knowledge of the industry, demographic, and the ability to sell this idea to you with little effort. The entire design process is about communication.
A well designed logo should speak to you and your company in such as way as to be approachable, meaningful and also display a certain 'why you should use us' feeling. Well designed companies are companies that have these qualities. The identity of a logo and your brand in general should all be constant and people should be able to apply your logo to many different platforms maintaining its original integrity.
You already have some good answers here. I think they've covered the major points, but a few additional comments…
It should be scalable. In some cases there are minor variations between the large version of your logo that you might use on the front page of a report or a slideshow and the tiny version used in places like an email signature. But it should be easily recognized as the "same" logo. Other visual pieces that can be used on your Web site or documentation should also appear to be related. (Make sure the graphic designer gives the specifications for the font and colors used.)
You should like your logo. It's important that your customers form positive associations, and it should also be something you are happy to use on all your materials.
I'm not sure about the normal agreements with graphic designers, but can you negotiate something where you get to show some key customers (or friends in the same demographic as your target customer) the proposed design for their feedback before accepting the results?
Oh, and here are a couple of items about the meaning or associations with different colors:
I will not add anything to what Jeff has said. His reply is comprehensive.
My comment however is from a visual point of view. Whether you will be going for an icon or a typeface you will need to consider the following:
An excellent logo or visual identity should be:
It is often very hard to have all these characteristics unless the designer is very experienced and therefore the alternative would be to consider as much of these characteristics as possible.
If you need further details with regards to each of the characteristics please send me a private message.
I think for all of the marketing question to be answered from 'left brain' side there is an equally right brained motivation for the aesthetic prowess that speaks elegantly and confidently to your business.
I would look at brand/logo combinations in your industry, competitors and other businesses to define for youself which you feel are effective. Once you have something to relay to a designer it is their job to figure out why you connect of like what you do and transform that into the identity of your logo to match you and your business.
1.) Have you defined who your target audience is? If you haven't you need to have some idea of who they are.
For example, if your emphasis is women you're going to want a feminine design to it. If your emphasis is men, you're going to want a more masculine design to it. If it is kids, then it might be more whimsical. However, if you are attempting to reach a broader target audience: kids, women and men, then you may want a mix of feminine, masculine and whimsy.
As some of the others have stated do a Google image search from businesses in your industry and/or community. For example, kids 'widgets' logos. Widgets being the produce of service. You'll find all kinds of logos look at them and write down what you like and don't like about them. Take your notes and sample logos that you reviewed with you to the meeting with your graphic designer.
2.) Have you developed core values or principles behind your business? You will need to do some soul searching and develop some core values. Your business' logo should at the same time as communicating the above needs to project your core values. Or at a minimum think about how you want your customers to perceive your business.
3.) What is it that your business is providing: products/services? Your logo should have some graphic element that communicates what you are selling.
4.) Do some research. Once you've create some core values and/or perceptions you want to project and you've somewhat or narrowly defined your target audience. Take your core values and perception words along with your products/services description to a local retail store or mall and as people are going in or coming out ask them if they would take a couple of minutes to help you out.
Then ask them.
What symbols or graphics would they associate with the products/services description and the core values and would grab their attention?
What colors would they associate with the core values and products/services and would grab their attention?
Further your research by either going online or to the local library to search for meanings to words, their origins and symbol(s) associated to words.
For example, Aurora is Latin for 'dawn.' The beginning of a new day. The sunrise at the horizon is symbolic of dawn or new day. Aurora also references the northern lights with colors ranging the spectrum but mainly in the blues, greens, yellows and reds.
Combine all of the above, and you'll have (should have a fantastic logo.
Check out web-sites in the same industry as yours, with more or less the same target group.
Get a feel for what type of logos and style and fonts they are using.
Google "logo's Your Type of Industry" and see what comes up.
Once you have a feel for it, get a good amount of drafts/mock-ups and send them to people you trust, whether family, friends, business contacts or anyone you believe has a good eye for this type of question.
In the end, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"...you can have checked all the right boxes and still come up with something that people don't respond to.
Or the opposite, follow your gut without checking any boxes and have a great success.
My main gut feel is always, what goes on in people's minds and guts when they see my logo...does it scream "discount" or "country" or "haute couture" or "technology"?
Those distinctions are relatively easy to find in terms of style and color scheme.
Within that gut feel, creativity and a bit of luck comes in to play a role.