Is My Logo Really Finished?

Tara Hornor
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Every single business across the web and the world should have a logo, because it represents your company’s identity — a critical branding element. You want people to know what kind of company you are in a single glance across your logo. For anybody that’s had to design a logo before, this can be one of the biggest challenges we face. It’s hard to cram a bunch of design concepts into such a small package!

This is why it can be difficult to know when to stop — that balance between doing too much and too little to a logo design. How do you know when you’ve “got it” and can step back? And, you need to answer that question regardless of which side of the fence you are on — either as a client who ordered the logo or as the designer who created it.

KISS

The main principle to keep in mind is that your logo should convey the message you want it to. You need to make sure that there’s nothing in the logo design that prevents it from working properly. As a matter of fact, the whole idea boils down to the well-known KISS principle (“Keep It Simple, Stupid”), but I’ll go the extra mile and give you some examples (see below) to really understand what I mean, so that you can confidently use it in your everyday practice. Generally speaking, if you can remove an element and still communicate the message, you shouldremove that element.

Here are some amazing logos that clearly follow the KISS principle:

Complexity and Sizing

For starters, make sure that your logo looks great in any size, because as a business, you’ll have to put your logo on all sorts of items. If your logo is not recognizable when it’s too zoomed-in or zoomed-out, you got a problem.

Consider the famous Nike logo. What is the minimum or maximum size that you can use it in? Hard to say? Exactly! You can play with its sizing to your heart’s content, and I personally can’t find a size in which the Nike logo would be unusable. If it’s visible, at any size, it’s performing well. That’s exactly what you should strive for.

Having a logo with such features ensures that you can print it in any size and on any material, whether for business card or brochure printing, websites or t-shirts. You don’t want your logo to look like a jumbled mess of drawings, and a complex design may take on this jumped appearance and lose detail for certain mediums and purposes.

Also, keep your company name and icon separate, because you can over-complicate your logo and make your company name hard to read. While working on your logo, think about Nike, McDonald’s, and Apple. Super simple, very recognizable, and easy to see.

Color: Start Without It

Lots of expert designers prefer working in black and white first. Only after having confirmed that the customer likes the overall design idea, they add color to it. This process can save you a lot of time and heartache. Color is very subjective, as it can have different meanings in different cultures, and that’s why it may influence your general impression of your logo.

Further, if you recall most major brands, their logos look fine on virtually any surface and in literally any color. But this is no coincidence. The designer created the logo in black and white first before adding the color, which is why the logo works in any color. First go for the overall composition and then tackle the rest.

So, Is it Done?

How do you know you’ve hit that point where you have the critical components, but not too much? Well, that’s going to be a bit subjective, so subjective, in fact, that this may not be the best decision for you to make as the designer.

When you think you’ve found that particular point where you’ve “got it,” that’s when you should get other designers involved. Upload your logo to a site like LogoPond.com or BrandsOfTheWorld.com and get some feedback from other designers.

This is a secret weapon of many designers that has worked over and over and over. Getting feedback, specifically from design professionals, can help push the design over the top in terms of balancing minimalism and connecting abstract concepts.

Then, and only after you have some solid feedback, send the design to the client with a well-reasoned argument for why it’s ready to go. 90% of the time they agree and are thrilled with the work. Sometimes they have small tweaks or other color variations they want, but that’s usually it.

Complex Designs

Every now and again, I get a call to handle a complex logo design idea, such as a crest logo. Most of the rules above still apply, but of course the end result will be slightly more complicated than a simple logo. Make sure that complex logos are still readable at large and small sizes, that any fonts are still readable in different sizes, and that the design is still functional in black and white. You may have to include a few more graphics and some text, but you will need to still stick with the rule of keeping it as simple as possible. And don’t forget to let other designers review it before sending to the client.

Here are a few extremely well-done complex designs:

Conclusion

So, when is your logo finished? The key is to know when to stop, step back, and get feedback. Then you incorporate the feedback — if necessary — and, finally, send the design to your client. It’s not always easy to know when you’ve “got it,” but starting with a simple framework of minimalism will help you start and stop at as close to the right time as possible.

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  • http://new.hunie.co Damian Madray

    I totally agree. Sometimes you stare at your own work for so long, you have no clue what’s wrong with it. At that point, you have 2 options:

    1. Take a break. Walk away from it for a day, a week and return to it. You’ll see things that surprises you and ask, “how’d I not see that?”

    2. Show other designers to gain some insights and perspective. That’s exactly what I’m building at Hunie.

  • http://www.jewzo.com Seth Front

    Both Fuddrucker’s and Tinseltown (for the candy store “Sweet” in Hollywood) were designed by Michael Doret, who also did the logo and artwork for my company, Jewish Zodiac.

  • http://www.tinybig.com/ David Mitchell

    The Fuddrucker and Tinsletown logos hurt my eyes and seem to go against everything the article suggested.