Effective Logo Design Tips
Before we discuss what makes a logo design effective, let’s briefly revisit the idea of behavioral economics.
Behavioral economics – the idea that decisions are less deliberative, linear and controlled than we would like to believe – translates to mean: real change in behavior can be difficult to achieve.
In this article, we will discuss how an effective logo is the first step in influencing customer behavior. Behavioral economics is all about context. The importance of the context in which a customer sees and experiences your logo cannot be understated. However, it is also important to understand that an effective logo is only the tip of the iceberg.
A logo is not just a logo. It is everything!
This is because the logo you choose to represent your business will become a representation of your brand.
TIP 1: Branding 101
You have no doubt heard the word “brand” tossed around in the modern vernacular.
A brand is no longer as simple as the name on the tag of your favorite pair of boxers or baseball cap. Yes, Crocs is a brand. Nerf is a brand. But your business becomes a brand the minute you introduce your product or service to the world. You become a brand the minute you introduce your blog or product to the world. And building a brand is an integral part of giving yourself or your business a memorable identity and assigning worth.
Building a brand should take a great deal of time and resources. It is not just about communicating what you are all about – it is the process of communicating that what you are all about is valuable to your intended customer.
Success coach Annetta Powell says that a brand “encompasses all things that consumers know, feel and experience about your business in its entirety.”
Naturally, your brand aesthetic will appear in all your business advertising, social media graphics, print media graphics, and signage. Therefore, a customer should be able to tell what you and your business are all about based on your brand aesthetic.
So pretty much, your brand is no big deal, right?
TIP 2: Start With A Logo
The building blocks of your brand begin with a logo. Jacob Cass, owner of Just Creative Design and logo expert, defines 5 crucial elements of an effective logo.
The design process, says Cass, is meant to create a logo that is: recognizable, inspires trust, admiration, loyalty, and an implied superiority.
According to Cass, a brand should be 5 things:
- Cass stresses that simplicity is key if the goal is for your logo to be easily recognizable, versatile and memorable. Good logos, says Cass, will feature something unique without being “overdrawn.”
- Paul Rand, author of the book Design, Form & Chaos, often cited as one of the word’s greatest graphic designers, stresses that “a logo does not sell (directly), it identifies.” Rand says that a one-to-one relationship between what a logo is and what is represents is often impossible to achieve. Instead, Rand says, a logo should be distinctive, memorable and clear, and this will achieve the desired outcome – for your logo to be in the forefront of a customers mind when he is looking to make a purchase of what you are selling.
- A principle in psychology known as “The Isolation Effect” states that an item which stands out like a sore thumb is more likely to be remembered. Research shows that participants are more likely to recognize and associate images that blatantly stick out from it’s surroundings.
- When it comes to branding, be sure to consider that your logo will stand the test of time. The golden arches of McDonalds are as effective now as they were when introduced in 1962.
- Keep in mind that a logo which changes frequently will have no chance at a permanent holding place in the mind of your customer.
- When designing a logo, keep in mind the logistics of where your logo will appear and how it will be implemented. An effective logo will appear in a variety of digital and print media. Is your logo scalable? How many colors does it contain and will you be able to afford the printing costs associated with multicolored designs? Will it fit on a small business card as well as it fits on a billboard?
- Designer Patrick Winfield suggests beginning the design process in black and white, “to ensure the logo will look good in it’s simplest form.”
- It is important to position your logo as appropriate to your intended audience. This is where you must consider elements such as color, font, and even elements sans words.
Integrating these 5 elements into a logo will ensure it is effective and memorable, and perhaps even just as importantly, gives you a stepping stone to begin developing your brand.
“It is only by association with a product, a service, a business, or a corporation that a logo takes on any real meaning,” says Paul Rand. “It is foolhardy to believe that a logo will do its job immediately, before an audience has been properly conditioned.”
Once again, behavioral economics plays a large role in these types of decisions. Contextual factors such as demographic, region, convenience, etc. will influence the importance we assign and the trust we put in a brand.
“A logo derives meaning for the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around,” says Rand.
To nail down the importance of what a logo can represent, consider this example. This one is for all my coffee drinkers.
Perhaps you are on your way into work. Perhaps you are in search of a quiet, peaceful environment with reliable Wi-Fi to work remotely. Perhaps you want a comfortable environment to sip some coffee while you read a good book. Perhaps you are racking your brain for a perfect setting for a coffee date with a tinder match. The moral of the story is: you want good coffee coupled with a good backdrop.
When we consider our options for everyday purchase decisions such as this, we often think in terms of logos. For example, the Starbucks logo may represent overpriced sugary drinks in a stuffy and pretentious environment for some. For others, the Starbucks logo represents a sense of familiarity and reliability. All of this is directly related to the Starbucks brand.
TIP 3: Establishing Brand Guidelines
Although your brand guideline strategy will begin with a logo, there is much more to it.
Your brand guidelines will inform and remind you and your employees, contracted or otherwise, how to implement and “use” your brand. These guidelines will be referenced by anyone who touches your brand, internally and externally, and will be crucial as you build and rebuild your brand.
Guidelines will include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Logo or wordmark
- This is the core of your brand identity. When deciding whether to determine if you should go with a symbol, like Apple, or a wordmark, like Coca-Cola, consider how you want a customer to visualize your brand. A well-crafted wordmark can convey a sense of professionalism without a visual. A visual can show that your company is creative and unique. If you know what the core of your business is about, the decision should be more simplified.
- Logo variations
- Your logo will need to appear on business cards, social media icons, websites, billboards, etc. and it is vital that the essential qualities of the logo remain.
- Ensure the logo can be rendered, rotated, resized, cropped and colored.
- A color palette
- This is the fun part of the design process – and often crucial to the logo design process as well. Color psychology is a central yet often understated component of behavioral economics. Color psychology is the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior. Color influences perceptions that may not be obvious, such as the taste of food or the mood of a customer. For example, yellow is psychologically the happiest color in the color spectrum. Red is known to convey seduction. Black is considered to intimidate. Blue has been shown to calm.
- When it comes to picking the right color for your logo, and on a larger scale, your brand, research has found that predicting consumer reaction to color appropriateness is far more important than the individual color itself. Demographic research is absolutely essential when selecting a color palette that will match the perceptions and preferences of your intended audience. Consider this when designing your logo, and be sure to include a color palette that complements and surrounds your logo appropriately and effectively.
- Corporate typefaces
- It is recommended to choose only a handful of fonts to be used in printed materials. Naturally the typeface should be aligned with your logo and complement your business concept. Keep in mind your corporate typeface will need to be available to you on all electronic devices for all your key documents. For example, not all fonts are available on Macs and PCs. The fonts you choose should be compatible with any device.
- Full library of graphic elements
- This might include a handmade texture, a line style treatment, the use of white space or color blocks. This is where all the other elements of your brand guidelines will come into play. This is also where it becomes difficult if you are not familiar with branding strategy or graphic design.
TIP 4: Synergy is Key
The best way to summarize how to make a logo effective is one word: synergy. Defined literally, synergy means “the interaction of elements that when combined, produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of individual elements.”
All the elements of your brand should contain synergy. Consistency across all the elements of your brand will assign synergy, allowing your customers to make an informed, confident purchase of your product because they will know what you and your product are all about.
Brand synergy can be challenging to achieve. Consider bringing in a seasoned expert to consult when beginning to develop a memorable and trustworthy brand that inspires brand loyalty and advocates.