• Nathaniel Berger

Logos (and the many gotchas)

Updated: Oct 18, 2019


‘Needed’ Only Apply

So, you need a logo? Great! (But do you really?) If you haven’t already read my post on Branding & Design; I may just dissuade you yet! Let’s say you do need a logo though, where to begin?

That’s a tricky question which should be predicated up the function/need of the logo. Do you want to stand out from the competition (yes), make your organization more recognizable (yes), or create a mark which can be placed on surfaces that text just is not good for (yes)? Knowing which is more important will predicate many of the design decisions to come, so be sure you know.

No matter your predicating need, there are a few issues which you need to consider upon design: Shape, Color, & Usage.

Shape

If your logo’s shape doesn’t have something to do with your industry, trade, practice, activities, or desired projected ‘feeling’ then you’ve likely failed. Most iconic logos are easily recognizable by their silhouette and those few that are not stand out in some other manner. Be sure to deeply consider the basic shape of your logo to be (a) recognizable, (b) relational, and (c) relatable.

  1. If I cannot tell what the shape I’m seeing is (even if it’s super cool!) I don’t care.

  2. If I cannot easily connect your logo’s silhouette with your organization’s activities nor function (whatever they may be) I probably don’t care.

  3. If I cannot somehow relate to the shapes literal translation nor innate or implied feeling (even if you can) I probably don’t care.

Give me a shape I can grok!

Tips: Be sure you keep your outline simple! Don’t have aspects that are too thin! Generally, avoid complex internal forms. For a super in-depth guide on icon creation (often related to logos) see Icontopia’s Icon Design Guide.

Color

Color may be the second most important aspect of a good logo. Choosing just the ‘right’ color to fit the feel, relate to a specific industry, stay readable at large and small sizes, and to live on a wide range of media types is just plain difficult. To help you move forward I highly suggest you (a) start by designing a mono-color logo, (b) avoid mid-tone colors, and (c) leverage referential colors, e.g. the Red Cross relates to blood.

Test your color with pairings. Before you commit to Sunset Orange as your logo’s color, why not test it on surfaces which it will be expected to be placed, like a website’s background color, on top of other images, letterhead, newsprint, t-shirts, swag, etc. While you may find that this color works great by itself, you may discover that its complementary and analogous colors do not lend well to your brand in some other manner. Test. Test. Test.

Tips: Ensure the color relates to the brand! Create a color palette -not just a single color. Avoid shocking colors with everyday occurrence, like Safety Orange - unless you want to co-opt it intentionally!

Usage

Have a plan for how the logo is to be put to use in practice. I completely understand that, perhaps, you just want a logo and to be done with it, but if you do not set clearly defined rules for how and when the logo is to be used, you’ll end up with interns, partners, advertisers, media or others misusing your branding in undesirable ways! Take some time to consider usage.

Have a partner organization that wants to cross-promote an event? Great!

A few things to consider:

  1. Do you have your logo file[s] ready to share? (What format? PDF, PNG, JPG, TIFF, PSD, etc.)

  2. Do you care to deal with how they place your logo each and every time? (Consider padding, spacing, sizing, and alignment.)

  3. Do you care if your logo is paired with ideas, activities, or attributes which are not congenial with your business? (Your Fitness Org TMpaired with Baby Products Super Store TM)

There’s a lot to consider. Take some time consider how you want your branding utilized, and even consider drafting up a branding guidelines document if your organization is of a certain size or has many partners. I’ve provided a short example to consider.

Control

Logos are an intricate part of branding your organization. Whatever you do, exercise control of your brand. Take time to think through the decisions you make, no matter what the shape, or color, and however you intend to have it used. If you’re fortunate enough to be in our network, and interested in branding support, don’t hesitate to let us know!

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The LIGHTS Innovation Network catalyzes the creation of companies to create high-wage jobs and attract greater private investment in the coal-impacted and opioid-impacted regions of Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky, uniquely matching the complex problems and opportunities facing our corporations, communities, and individuals to a network of strategically-placed Innovation Gateways. From this, new marketable products grow from these challenges through our work with locally partnered Innovation Gateways' business incubators and makerspaces, across a tri-state 28-county area.

#smallbusinessinnovation #smallbusiness #makeyourideashappen #appalachianbusiness #appalachianregionalcommission #logo #branding #design #LIGHTS

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