My Marketing Thing

Logo basics that even some graphic designers forget

Brian and new logo

A good logo is a simple one.  That doesn’t mean designing a logo is simple.  In fact, it’s the crème de la crème of graphic design.

Your logo – as simple and sweet as it may be – needs to do a number of things:

  1. reflect your business accurately
  2. work logistically in every format
  3. look different from everyone else
  4. be appealing to the folks you want to reach


Because of all these considerations, it is a good idea to hire a graphic designer to create your logo.  You want to look spiffy, don’t you?  An amateur job is not the go for something that is so important.  You need make a good first impression.

Still, even if you have a great graphic designer enlisted to help, it doesn’t hurt to know some things about logo design yourself before kicking-off.


Between you and me…

…I’m a little shocked at how many graphic designers I’ve come across who don’t take the logo basics into account.  Because I couldn’t help myself, I made a pretty bold statement about these kinds of graphic designers on the website Flying Solo. Predictably, the article received a ton of flack from furious creative souls.  

Blog tip: Writing contentious articles is a great way to attract ‘comments’.


Moving right along…

Below are some considerations that might help guide you (and your designer) towards a logo that is both practical and powerful:


What is a logo?

When people think ‘logo’ they generally think of the symbol that appears next to (or under or above) the business name.  But your logo could just be your business name in a particular font, sporting particular colours.

Or you can have a graphic as part of your business name, rather than beside it.

Warning:  Be wary of graphics that break up the business name, rather than pull the visual together in a neat package.  Breaking up the business name can send a ‘scattered’ message.  

How you choose to approach the basic nature of the logo design depends on:

  • what you want to communicate (i.e. your key message)
  • who you are communicating to (i.e. the people you want to buy your gear)
  • how the logo is likely to be used (i.e. what promotional formats this baby will appear on)


Do you need a symbol?

Logo symbols can be a great way pack a punch for your brand.  They often sit on the left hand side of the business name (like your business’ right hand man).  Symbols can be handy for favicons (otherwise known as a ‘website icon’ or ‘bookmark icon’ i.e. the little round symbol that can appear before your website address on a web browser).

They can also appear as a watermark design behind text in promotional material or on a product packaging tag.

There are all manner of ways a logo symbol can be used to help your branding along.  But not everyone feels the urge to have one and that’s okay too.

Some more design tips:

  • Make the logo design simple - The simpler, the more powerful.  Instant recognition is the name the logo game (look at the logos of major banks and telephone companies – as evil as they might be, these businesses generally have the simple logo thing sussed).
  • Keep the number of colours used to a minimum – Aim for two colours maximum, not including white, and avoid subtle tonal changes.
  • Avoid metallic colours – They require expensive inks/stock and don’t translate well on computer/TV screens (e.g. copper will convert to a murky brown on your website).
  • Do you have a tag line (slogan)?  – If so, have a version of your logo with your tag line.
  • Avoid hairlines – Thin lines can get lost in photocopying, on television and on computer screens.
  • Test the logo’s appearance:  Fax it, photocopy it, print it out, look at it on your computer monitor.
  • Does it reduce well in size?  What can you see when your logo is 3cms in width – or even smaller?
  • Check it out in different formats: See how it will look on letterhead, with comp slips, business cards, order forms, packaging, web page, newsprint, glossy paper.
  • Consider appearance beyond corporate material: As an ink stamp, in a small black & white newspaper ad, on a billboard, embroidered on a uniform or printed on a promotional t-shirt, etc.
  • If the logo is one colour, have a reverse colour option – If blue on white, for example, check out the white on blue option.
  • Ensure your designer gives you a black & white version of the logo (if you have a colour logo).
  • Also have a black & white inverse option – White on black/black on white.
  • Consider having both horizontal and vertical versions to accommodate different layout demands.
  • Consider ‘long-range’ identification - If street signage, expo signage, event banners, and/or uniforms spotted easily in a crowd will be important to your business, consider your logo to be a light colour (or white) on a strong background colour for it to be seen quickly and easily from a distance.


A couple of legal tips

Make sure the design hasn’t already been trademarked by someone else.  And check that you own the design, not your designer – ensure the copyright ownership is documented and signed by both of you.


Wrapping up

When satisfied with your logo design, make sure your logo appears on EVERYTHING. Business cards, letterhead, signage, packaging, e-mail signature, advertising – the works.

Familiarity creates trust (unless your logo appears on the news in relation to something really bad).  So don’t be shy, go forth and shamelessly stamp your logo about the place.



Next I will write a post on how to brief your designer.  It is likely to involve chocolate, so stay posted (boom boom).

Maybe even consider subscribing to My Marketing Thing….


This article was written by Megan Hills.  Megan is a writer, marketing consultant and cartoonist.  Despite popular opinion, she also has friends that are graphic designers.  Read more about Megan

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Posted on Jan 28th, 2010 Branding and logo design  ,  ,


  1. Wilhelm

    Great article. Concise and to the point. Certainly saves a lot of time and pain to consider this sooner rather than later as all marketing will revolve around this facet

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