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10 Common Mistakes In Logo Design

With the power of the Web, and more eyes watching than ever, it’s important for a business to communicate its unique message clearly. The easiest way to recognize a company and distinguish it from others is by its logo. Below, we go through 10 common logo design mistakes that you should avoid if you want to create a successful and professional logo. [Content Care Dec/15/2016]

Further Reading on SmashingMag: Link

1. Designed By An Amateur Link

Avoid websites that promote ridiculously cheap logo packages. You get what you pay for.

A professional business should look professional. New business owners often invest a lot of time and money in property and equipment, but do not often match it by investing suitably in their logo.

Here are the most common reasons why many logos look amateurish:

  • The business owner wanted to save money by designing the logo quickly themselves.
  • A friend or relative who claims to know a little about graphic design does it as a favor.
  • The wrong people are commissioned. (Local printers are not likely proficient in logo design.)
  • The business outsourced the job via one of several design competition websites, which are mostly populated by amateur designers.
  • The job was given to an online company that offers really cheap logos.

All of the above can result in disastrous outcomes. If your logo looks amateurish, then so will your business. A business should know where to look when it wants a new logo. David Airey offers great insight on how to choose the right logo designer6 for your requirements.

Here are the advantages of hiring an established and professional logo designer:

  • Your logo will be unique and memorable.
  • You won’t run into any problems down the line with reproducing it.
  • Your logo will have a longer lifespan and won’t need to be redesigned in a couple of years.
  • Your logo will look professional.

Focusing on current logo trends is like putting a sell-by date on a logo.

Trends (whether swooshes, glows or bevels) come and go and ultimately turn into cliches. A well-designed logo should be timeless, and this can be achieved by ignoring the latest design tricks and gimmicks. The biggest cliche in logo design is the dreaded “corporate swoosh,” which is the ultimate way to play it safe. As a logo designer, your job is to create a unique identity for your client, so completely ignoring logo design trends is best.

Logo Online Pros7 has a great section on its website in which it updates current logo design trends every year. Being aware as a designer of the latest crazes is important, mainly so that you can avoid them at all costs.

3. Uses Raster Images Link

An example of how raster graphics can limit reproduction.

Standard practice when designing a logo is to use vector graphics software, such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. A vector graphic is made up of mathematically precise points, which ensures visual consistency across multiple sizes. The alternative, of course, is use to raster graphics software, such as Adobe Photoshop. A raster graphic — or bitmap, as it’s commonly called — consists of pixels.

Using raster images for logos is not advisable because it can cause problems with reproduction. While Photoshop is capable of creating very large logos, you never know for sure how large you will have to reproduce your logo at some point. If you zoom in enough on a raster graphic, it will appear pixelated, making it unusable. Maintaining visual consistency8 by making sure the logo looks the same in all sizes is essential.

The main advantages of vector graphics for logo design are:

  • The logo can be scaled to any size without losing quality.
  • Editing the logo later on is much easier.
  • It can be adapted to other media more easily than a raster image.

4. Contains Stock Art Link

Using stock vector graphics in a logo puts your client at risk.

This mistake is often made by business owners who design their own logo or by amateur designers who are not clued in to the laws on copyright. Downloading stock vector imagery from websites such as VectorStock9 is not a crime, but it could possibly get you in trouble if you incorporate it in a logo.

A logo should be unique and original, and the licensing agreement should be exclusive to the client: using stock art breaks both of these rules. Chances are, if you are using a stock vector image, it is also being used by someone somewhere else in the world, so yours is no longer unique. You can pretty easily spot stock vectors in logos because they are usually familiar shapes, such as globes and silhouettes.

5. Designing For Yourself Rather Than The Client Link

Never impose your own personality onto a client’s work.

You can often spot this logo design sin a mile away; the cause is usually a designer’s enormous ego. If you have found a cool new font that you can’t wait to use in a design, well… don’t. Ask yourself if that font is truly appropriate for the business you’re designing for? For example, a great modern typographic font that you just love is not likely suited to a serious business such as a lawyer’s office.

Some designers also make the mistake of including a “trademark” in their work. While you should be proud of your work, imposing your personality onto a logo is wrong. Stay focused on the client’s requirements by sticking to the brief.

6. Overly Complex Link

Highly detailed designs don’t scale well when printed or viewed in smaller sizes.

What better analogy for thumbnail images than fingerprints? You’ll notice the intricacies of your fingerprints only when looking at them really close up. As soon as you move away, those details are lost. The same holds true for highly detailed logo designs.

When printed in small sizes, a complex design will lose detail and in some cases will look like a smudge or, worse, a mistake. The more detail a logo has, the more information the viewer has to process. A logo should be memorable, and one of the best ways to make it memorable is to keep things simple. Look at the corporate identities of Nike, McDonald’s and Apple. Each company has a very simple icon that can easily be reproduced at any size.

7. Relies On Color For Its Effect Link

Without color, your great design may lose its identity.

This is a very common mistake. Some designers cannot wait to add color to a design, and some rely on it completely. Choosing color10 should be your last decision, so starting your work in black and white is best.

Every business owner will need to display their logo in only one color at one time or another, so the designer should test to see whether this would affect the logo’s identity. If you use color to help distinguish certain elements in the design, then the logo will look completely different in one tone.

8. Poor Choice Of Font Link

Font choice can make or break a logo.

When it comes to executing a logo, choosing the right font is the most important decision11 a designer can make. More often than not, a logo fails because of a poor font choice (our example shows the infamous Comic Sans).

Finding the perfect font for your design is all about matching the font to the style of the icon. But this can be tricky. If the match is too close, the icon and font will compete with each other for attention; if the complete opposite, then the viewer won’t know where to focus. The key is finding the right balance, somewhere in the middle. Every typeface has a personality. If the font you have chosen does not reflect the icon’s characteristics, then the whole message of the brand will misfire.

Bad fonts are often chosen simply because the decision isn’t taken seriously enough. Some designers simply throw in type as an afterthought. Professional font foundries, such as MyFonts12 and FontFont13, offer much better typeface options than those over-used websites that offer free downloads.

9. Has Too Many Fonts Link

A logo works best with a maximum of two fonts.

Using too many fonts is like trying to show someone a whole photo album at once. Each typeface is different, and the viewer needs time to recognize it. Seeing too many at once causes confusion.

Using a maximum of two fonts of different weights is standard practice. Restricting the number of fonts to this number greatly improves the legibility of a logo design and improves brand recognition.

10. Copies Others Link

This is the biggest logo design mistake of all and, unfortunately, is becoming more and more common. As mentioned, the purpose of a logo is to represent a business. If it looks the same as someone else’s, it has failed in that regard. Copying others does no one any favors, neither the client nor the designer.

Footnotes Link

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Gareth Hardy is a professional graphic designer and illustrator based in the United Kingdom. You can find Gareth at Down With Design or on a snowy mountain near you.

  1. 1

    Great article for beginers :)

  2. 2

    Thanks, some very good points here.

  3. 3

    excellent! the amount of people i see trying to get their “future big business” logo designed for dirt cheap is crazy

  4. 4

    Cool article.. very very informative. Big thanks ! :)

  5. 5

    Great Article just when i needed.
    Thanks a lot.

  6. 6

    Jan Kovařík

    June 25, 2009 4:47 am

    I agree, with everything … i saw too many bad logos :(

  7. 7

    This is a great article, I’ll think about this!

  8. 8

    Thank you for having the design in black and white first section. Someone starting a logo in color is a tell tale sign of someone who doesn’t really know what they are doing.

  9. 9


    June 25, 2009 5:02 am

    I believe that logos should be designed as vector and in pixel formats, especially if your main presence is online. If your going to display in pixels, you need to design for pixels, or else the anti-aliasing on a vector image is not going to look sharp on a computer screen.

  10. 10

    good article…suits as a remainder :)

  11. 11

    Andrew Turnbull

    June 25, 2009 5:03 am

    A great article. Like the above. It important that the logo works to small scale and also looks good when photocopyed in black and white. Lot of new / fresh designers need to be aware of those facts. Im sure most designers here would agree with this: Never use Clip Art!

    Never follow trends as mentioned, it becomes to common and not original.
    The key is to be original/Unique.

    good job smashing!

  12. 12

    Spanish Fry

    June 25, 2009 5:09 am

    Great article. Simple, concise and some great ideas. I’m currently looking to brand a new blog so this is very relevant and helpful. Cheers.

  13. 13

    Wonderful collection. We know most of them but still great as a refresher.

  14. 14

    Don’t go cheap, but at the same time don’t spend millions and overpay. You can get really good work for a good price.

  15. 15


    Keep it simple, stupids. The best logo is an easily recognisable, reproducable and understandable one. Look at McDonald’s, Shell and Nike for some unbeatable and timeless logos.

  16. 16

    Excellent article. I believe that with experience, talent and conscience a designer may override items 6 and 7 – on the older days, those would be cardinal rules but with technology there’s more room for detail and less need for monochrome prints – so a creative approach is possible.

  17. 17

    Nick Wichman

    June 25, 2009 5:17 am

    Great article. These are just a couple of the mistakes I’ve seen in Logo Design. I actually wrote a blog titled “Design for Client, Not Yourself”. I think that designer egos are one of the biggest hurdle for most designers.

    If you aren’t willing to LEARN and EXPAND your designing abilities, you might as well quit and take up crochet or something.

  18. 18

    I will DEF. tweet this….my god how I HATE hearing “oh my cousin’s dog sitter works at a print shop part time”. NO! For the love of god please don’t hire them. Quit being cheap and hire a professional.

  19. 19

    lunetta: I thought I was the only one. Thanks.

  20. 20

    Yes – lots of good tips there to bear in mind when doing logo design.

  21. 21

    I design all my logos in Photoshop but have software to convert them to vectors. Slowly but surely learning illustrator but I work so much quicker in photoshop.

  22. 22

    Great article, but some companies whould never understand…

  23. 23


  24. 24

    great article…

    Thanks to SM

  25. 25

    Nice article, the smashing productions logo is neat :)

  26. 26

    Great run through! I had to learn these the hard way, but after each failure I picked up on what was the right way to do it.

    But to throw out an exception – is it true that Twitter only paid $6 for their logo (the bird on the branch)?

  27. 27

    Thank you for stating the obvious! So-called designers today are doing a huge disservice to their clients by abusing Number 5 (designing for yourself). That leads to overly complex, color-dependent logos (Numbers 6 and 7). The commenter “lunetta” above is missing the point when saying technology today allows for greater detail and use of detail. So what?? Just because you can zoom in 1600% in Illustrator doesn’t mean you won’t end up with mud when viewed or printed at 100%. I tell clients that their new logo should look good at any size, whether on their business card or on the side of a bus. I also tell them their business card should be distinctive when viewed from across the room. Meeting those two objectives is not easy, and it’s why great logo design is never cheap.

  28. 28

    Antonea Nabors

    June 25, 2009 6:05 am

    Very well put! I couldn’t agree more. All of these points were spot on.

  29. 29

    I dont usually make a lot of logos but use them and it is so frustrating to get a bad logo and try to use it in good design.

    Another good suggestion that I have to explain to clients a lot is:

    Try not to make a TALL logo, its hard to use in various formats. Especially if the graphic is tall and the words are small… When you shrink it down the words just go away. It happens more than you would think.. ><

  30. 30

    Always love these type of articles.

  31. 31


    June 25, 2009 6:16 am

    Great article! cheers!

  32. 32

    It’s a little ironic that the right-side advertisements on Smashing are filled with “New Logo for $100!”-type ads; that, and all the logo trends articles posted here from time to time.

    That said, I still love this place.

  33. 33

    Paul Jobson

    June 25, 2009 6:30 am

    good article. I second Nathan’s comment above; those kind of ads should not have a place on such a website as this.

  34. 34


    June 25, 2009 6:30 am

    Great article, gives me something to think about…

    Quick question – on the image for #2, what font is used for “Like everyone else”?

  35. 35

    I think I can add another mistake to this list and its don’t let the client dictate how to design the logo. The client is not (in most cases) a creative designer, and even thought they might have an idea of what they want, or sometimes they know exactly what they want, ultimately they should leave the designing to the designer. I have a client who did not like the designs I made so he actually invited me over and sat next to me and had me tweaked the design to his liking. While I admire his initiative and making my job “easier”, the final design is one that I would not put into a portfolio.

  36. 36

    I agree with all of the common mistakes except for point number 7. Color is just as important as the imagery and typography of a logo. I understand the reasoning in the past for making sure that your logo looks well in a monochrome situation but I believe that’s not the case anymore. Digital printing is obviously overtaking all types of materials. Everything from wide format printing down to small micro sized printing is done digitally.

    The time to switch from thinking in just black & white is yesterday.

    • 37

      Tom, you’re a fool. If the logo doesn’t look good in black & white, then it’s unusable by a big business. Do you have any idea how much it costs to buy an ad in the New York Times in color versus black/white? Financial decisions force us to think in black and white and will continue to do so as long as physical print continues to exist.

  37. 38

    Excellent article, thanks for sharing!

  38. 39

    @freshalex if there wasnt no client input my portfolio would be 3 times the size. There is just no telling them sometimes “dont be a sheep and follow trends”.

    All of these are very valid and if you consider any of them then your not really a designer, just someone who knows how to use design software (and there is alot of those people around, you know who you are)

  39. 40

    @TOM, The reason a logo should work well in monochrome is sometimes your logo is used by other people who’s budget (or the material on which it is being printed) does not allow for colour printing.

  40. 41

    I cannot agree completly to point 7. Okay there is no doubt that in professional logo-design you should use colors with a high contrast. But the logo you marked as “good” on the right side suffer from something different I was taught: Don’t use small geometrical patterns in logos!
    When you think of greating a good logo, just forget all the gradients, shiny effects and small details like shadows. Rely on one simple rule: Design a logo as if you would design a coat of arms! Because the rules of heraldy are the same as for logo design: Recognizable, easy to remember and unique. As long as you keep those rules in mind you will create great logos! I will do a tutorial for German designers on my website in the nearer future!

  41. 42

    Dusan Vlahovic

    June 25, 2009 7:00 am

    Good tips, spot on!, i haven’t thought about doing the logo on b&w and adding color later, i like that idea.

  42. 43

    Really nice article! Logo design isn’t one of my best skills.

  43. 44

    Meagan Burns

    June 25, 2009 7:12 am

    @NATHAN I totally agree, there should not be ads for $100 logos on a site that writes an article like this. What are you trying to tell us Smashing? Seems a bit hypocritical.

  44. 45

    @MArc, I definitely understand the reason for creating some logos that can translate well into black and white for a company that has to budget their production quality for their identity. But for the businesses that were mentioned above as a “future big business” they should not limit their designs to limited printing. Especially since digital printing is the production way of the “future” and now.

    People would not question companies that adopted technologies quickly in the past, such as a store that incorporated digital store, an online store. And now its a no-brainier for a serious store to do.

  45. 46

    Great, great article. Maybe my favorite SM article ever!

  46. 47

    Robin Robbins

    June 25, 2009 7:21 am

    I agree that the logo should be colorless.
    Web pages today make it a possible to change themes easily and now a colorful log clashes with the theme. So I try to make a good black and white PNG, so the transparency shades the color giving it a hue no matter what theme is used.

  47. 48

    I like. Well done. Thanks…

  48. 49

    Niall McKenna

    June 25, 2009 7:27 am

    great article, definitely a topic which can be hard to find decent free info on. As mentioned above logo lounge is a subscription site, so these article are quite useful and informative. cheers

  49. 50

    Josiah Jost | Siah Design

    June 25, 2009 7:29 am

    Great article, Gareth. :D

  50. 51

    Brian Temecula

    June 25, 2009 7:33 am

    You could use one of the links here in SM for a $100 logo, and then combine that with some of the free icon sets, and one of the free wordpress themes, and you’re going to look VERY professional! (note sarcasm).

  51. 52

    Daniel Hunninghake

    June 25, 2009 7:36 am

    Nice work, Gareth! Each point is relevant, and I kept thinking.. “Yeah, very true!” Keep it up, and I look forward to your work in the future.

  52. 53

    Thanks you. Very usefull

  53. 54

    Reese Newman

    June 25, 2009 7:52 am

    I won’t even LOOK at logos with swishes.

  54. 55

    While I agree that following trends can cause problems, being able to keep up and design by these standards is important.

    Sure, you want to be “ahead of the curve”, but realistically you need to make a buck. If you’re a professional, that is.

    What I mean is this. There’s a reason that certain designs are trendy… because for the most part they are successful and popular. Yes, in a perfect world, you will innovate and lead clients towards an original design. However, for the most part, clients will want “something like that one” or a logo that is in some part based on another successful logo. I can’t tell you how many designs I’ve made that were finally sold because I added a web 2.0 style reflection.

    These are great guides though… each one could have it’s own page full of examples and how-to guides for designing, from inception to completion.

    Just understand that having a foundation based in originality and avoiding trends may not get you much work. Even if they aren’t portfolio-worthy, learning the techniques behind trendy design as well as practicing making some (even if you never use them) is important.

    Sometimes you just have to do what the client wants. You gotta eat!

  55. 56

    This is a great article. Part of the reason we charge so much for logos is that they are so important to the brand of the client.

    Especially #10. We get many prospective clients who say “make our logo look like ‘Company A’. We tell them that their logo needs to be unique, and they just don’t get it. They just want to keep the costs down but we try to explain that they really aren’t doing themselves any favors in the long run with a derivative logo.

  56. 57

    This is a great article. Lots of good advice for people who are new comers to logo design and design in general actually. Gives business people a chance to create a design brief from and informed position.

  57. 58

    You should mention pictures, because I have run across some clients that want an actual picture in their logo. I’m like WTF, serisouly???

  58. 59


    June 25, 2009 8:19 am

    Don’t get me wrong, I love coming to this site and reading the articles, but doesn’t this article completely contradict the several other “beautiful and creative logos” posts? Most of the logos showcased were shiny and full of overused gradients (#2), and relied heavily on color (#4). Sure they looked awesome as designs, but it’s kind of confusing to have one post saying these are great designs, then another post saying to avoid doing what most of them did.

    Otherwise, great tips!

  59. 60

    It’s so fun to look at those $20 logo design contest entries!

  60. 61

    @ Tom
    I think the point about color is not to “rely” on color in logo design. As you can see from the concenric circles in color in the demo – this design clearly doesn’t work in color

  61. 62

    …. and how many times do you see web sites attempt to use a complex logo as their favicon!

  62. 63

    I like these ideas…but… I think many times designers think that they are the most important part of a new business. While I wish that was true, most start up businesses are hitting the ground running and just need something to put on their stuff. Their cash and time is tied up in their new equipment and new business and unfortunately can’t drop $500 on a logo. It’s up to designers if they want some money (which is better than none), or to hold out for some someone willing to pay top dollar.

  63. 64

    “Yeah, yeah, don’t be cheap!”

    While I understand designers ought to be paid well for their work, it seems like a chicken vs. egg problem. People need logos for new companies. In most cases they are bootstrapping and don’t have the resources to pay for a good logo. This is usually my dilemma. Any suggestions on how to solve this problem?

    This article was very timely as I just posted a job on 99designs… $195 prize… go ahead, call me cheap!

  64. 65

    So for those that are on a budget where do you go? I guess the stock answer is “find a good logo designer” but for those not in the industry this is sort of like finding a good doctor or dentist. You know they are out there but for most it’s hard to tell the good from the bad.

  65. 66

    A very usefull post to many designers and beginners!

    Thank you again!

  66. 67

    i kinda like the fingerprint logo! a lot actually lol

  67. 68

    Gareth – Great Post!

    I couldn’t agree with you more. People are visual. When they think of your business, they’ll think of your logo. If it’s memorable, they’ll think of it often. If it’s not, they might not think of you at all.

    I recently re-did my business website, and initially thought I could save by using my old logo. Man was I wrong! The old, dated logo brought the whole site down… I needed a change and fast.

    I saw a banner on, and was able to find a local logo designer who went beyond anything I could have imagined. Not cheap, but I absolutely love the new look he gave my business.

    After using my old logo for over 4 years, I realized I never once had someone randomly give a positive comment on it. I’ve now had my new logo for about a month and have had people who I haven’t talked to in a year call just to tell me how great it looks.

    Value that as you may, but in my opinion, if a logo alone can compel someone to pick up a phone and call, the investment was worth every cent. In my case, that call eventually turned into a new client, which made this the best money I’ve spent in awhile…

  68. 69

    i would have add:

    1. using gradients
    2. using shadows

    btw: what’s the smashing magazine logo : just S or S + SMASHING MAGAZINE ?

  69. 70

    Cathedral Graphic Design

    June 25, 2009 9:51 am

    Yes, great article!

    I generally disapprove of the “web 2.0” style of logos and other logos that rely on color, gradients, etc to work (despite the fact that I have made a few recently – I’ll sacrifice “designer’s ethics” for cash ;) . Why do people want logos like that? That’s an icon, not a logo… Any truly good logo should look good in B&W, it should be simple but express exactly what’s needed, et cetera, and if you can’t come up with something that follows these rules that Smashing has posted, then you just aren’t creative enough – and I’ve been there, a designer can’t always have a revolutionary, world-changing concept. But I think we can all agree that truly good logos aren’t just a shiny bubble that goes in the corner of a website.

    The comment on price is true, as well; in my quest for more clients I’ve registered on Elance, and it’s HELL for true designers there. All these people bid $50 for a logo, and the people looking for the logo are only willing to pay $50 – and they end up getting what they payed for. Sure, I’ve made a little money there, but it’s hardly worth the time spent bidding and time spent on the project.

  70. 71

    Very good.

  71. 72

    One of the best! This brings me back to reading SM.
    Thank you.

  72. 73

    Armando Martinez

    June 25, 2009 10:10 am

    Great article. I hope people realize the common attributes of disposable logos.

  73. 74

    Awesome article! This is one of my new favorites on SM.

  74. 75

    It is one of the best and simple article on logo designig till date. Thank you verymuch.

  75. 76

    Jean-Baptiste Jung

    June 25, 2009 10:35 am

    Smashing article :) Learnt a lot of good tips!

  76. 77

    Muster Maxmann

    June 25, 2009 10:46 am

    Boring Article

  77. 78

    Good article, this is what we’re tought at school. All the basics.

  78. 79

    Hah…great article but you guys break #2. I find that hilarious.

  79. 80


    June 25, 2009 10:49 am

    Very good refresher for people thinking about conducting a brand discovery process.

  80. 81

    Michael Carnell

    June 25, 2009 11:14 am

    Thank you! Excellent and timely. I need a logo right now, and was already figuring out that I need to a) not do it myself and b) not get a friend / amateur to do it. This also gives me some guidelines to check against when I do get something submitted to me.

  81. 82

    The amount of times I have heard from prospective clients “we’d love to use you but your too expensive!” – You get what you pay for.

  82. 83

    So where do you find logo designers when even $500 is stretching a budget? LogoWorks?

  83. 84

    No. 6 is my favorite… I’m always thinking about K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid)

  84. 85

    Troy Peterson

    June 25, 2009 11:38 am

    Ha! Love #8… Comic Sans should be permanently banned from EVERYTHING!

  85. 86

    It’s odd that people confuse “monochrome” with “black and white”. A well designed logo should be as effective in a single color as it in in full color. That color can be black, or white or the official company color (IBM blue comes to mind somehow). Assuming you’re eventually going to print something in medium to large quantities – say 10,000 – 100,000 fliers or something – printing with 1-2 pantone colors is generally cheaper than printing in CMYK.

  86. 87

    Troy – lets not forget to add Papyrus to that list…

  87. 88

    Troy & JayDee – also add Monotype Corsiva.

    Awesome article. I strongly agree w/ 7 and 9. The others should be common sense.

  88. 89

    I’ve been working on my own logo for a few weeks, and this article changed my curse. Thank you smashing for these beautiful things you show me everyday!!!

  89. 90

    John Kreider

    June 25, 2009 1:01 pm

    This was a really good reminder of the pitfalls we sometimes can fall into remember revise, revise, revise.

    After several rounds of great solutions we sometimes get what some may call the client poo poo platter. combining 2-4 design options. This is where great account service can help.

    #11 Sometimes unavoidable client dictation, see #1.

  90. 91

    Joseph Francis

    June 25, 2009 1:10 pm

    Needs to be read by the clients, unfortunately, and not (just) by the designers.

    …and every time I’ve suggested vectors, or the importance of clarity when small and in black and white, people often roll their eyes and say, ‘This is 2009. Those rules are for years ago.’

  91. 92

    Sanchit Thakur

    June 25, 2009 1:14 pm

    Very nice article! keeps me coming back here :)

    You get what you pay for..

  92. 93

    What’s difficult is when the client wants everything on this list, I feel like the last couple of clients I’ve had have been over the top ridiculous with their demands for inappropriate or multiple fonts, too many colors, too complex, and yes even using stock art from istockphoto. Methinks I need to get better clients :)

  93. 94

    Funny thing is that some of these logos in this post are actually much nicer than the current SMASHING MAGAZING logo ;)

  94. 95

    not bad, just had to notice that i violated against at least 3 of your rules when making the last band logo design :-/ but oh well, i was aware of not applying all that “business” rules.

  95. 96

    Great article!

    Also a good tip for when you are designing a logo: If you have multiple designs you want to present to your client, never include the ones you ‘hope’ they won’t choose… it always ends up awkward. They either think you’re a mediocre designer, or they end up choosing that exact logo.

    Restrict it to just 2 and include different versions of those (colors, black/white, greyscale). If they don’t like them, you should have a general idea of what they don’t want and take that into account when designing their new top-notch logo ;)

    PS: And as an added bonus, a lot of these tips/rules apply to website designs as well. Too many (start up) businesses put up a cheapo website designed by their neighbor’s nephew who ‘knows stuff’…

  96. 97

    ehh, I dunno about color anymore. I used to agree but if you can stomach the printing costs I dont think it matters overly much anymore. of course it depends on what your plans are, if shipping boxes are involved then it is somewhat difficult to print that pretty logo on it in bulk.

    On another note I disagree with how the bevel/glow (add in gradient/shadow too for this) comment is handled. The logo should be designed without these since they are not really features of the logo at all. They can be added later if you want but the logo should not contain them at all.. they are just decoration.

    Take the smashing logo, it works in single color and on here it has a gradient and shadow.

  97. 98

    Dennis Michael

    June 25, 2009 2:19 pm

    Bravo! Well said.

  98. 99

    Michael [linefeed]

    June 25, 2009 4:21 pm

    There is no such thing as a ‘professional’ logo designer.

  99. 100

    Alex E. Schneider

    June 25, 2009 5:59 pm

    Everything about this list is bad, because:

    1. Logo’s acquire meaning not through their design, but through a company’s actions. If you need a logo, you can start with a simple black dot. What helps your business is your brain and how you act, not your logo. Your logo represents nothing, if you don’t.

    2. Logo’s should not be made for anyone else but yourself. If it is your business to make logos for others, you are in the business of pretending that you care or understand what someone else represents. You don’t. You just want a stupid design award for your design work (and are probably willing to pay a jury for it). Start realizing that revenue is the real reward. Why don’t you design for yourself and trade products or services? Are you so confident in your skills?

    3. The first point of this list is a fabrication, written to appeal to designers who sell logo design, and not written to inspire any understanding about logo design. “amateurish” and “professional” are words without meaning. Hallelujah.

    4. A logo should reflect a purpose (note that I didn’t write: “have a purpose”), which means that its conception should be attached to something you have already done. If you allow an agency to make up scenarios, you are just paying for creativity, and diluting your identity.

    5. Theorizing logo design is as futile as theorizing about naming. The name Michael Jackson carries meaning not because someone put that name together.

    6. Each of the points in the list can be refuted by real-life examples. If you are a logo designer, find those examples. That could give you all the reasons not to design for others, but only for yourself. The world will not get better if everyone wants to tell everyone else how to run aspects of a business. Are you satisfied by living in a meta-economy?

    The purpose of life is to trade, not to creep into the lives of others and pretend that you can paint success into a logo.

  100. 101

    I think you’ve got it spot on… it’s not that that Gareth Hardy is saying that your logo is should be black/white, it’s just that it should work in b/w… and by designing it that way ensures it does.

    btw… I see a lot of people dismissing the black&white/greyscale logo as a thing of the past, but you’d be surprised how many companies still use a fax. (and as far as I know, they still don’t print in color)

  101. 102

    Thanks mates.

  102. 103

    I agree with Wouter–don’t dismiss the notion of ensuring that logos will still work in B&W. The whole idea of a logo is to create an identity that will last and can be used in any type of application into the foreseeable future. Who knows where that company may expand in the future and there may be situations where the use of a B&W logo is not only practical because it’s cheaper to reproduce, but may be aesthetically more desirable than a colour logo.

  103. 104

    Mark Provan

    June 25, 2009 3:32 pm

    Excellent article :) Well done!

  104. 105

    Internet Strategist

    June 25, 2009 3:38 pm

    This is the best post I’ve seen on the very real SPECIFIC drawbacks of not going with a professional logo designer. Any business that starts out with a logo that only works on the Web will be faced with a far more expensive and risky rebranding challenge when they expand into print media or any medium that requires grayscale or resizing for other uses.

    I am currently researching a post about the differences between inexpensive logo design, logo design contest sites, and working with professional designers with a major emphasis on what you don’t receive and how that can impact you in the long run. This post really contributes and will, of course, be recommended and linked.

  105. 106

    That Web Guy

    June 25, 2009 3:54 pm

    Top stuff SM. I’ve been meaning to write on this very subject and you’ve managed to say a couple of things I hadn’t considered.

  106. 107

    LMAO article!

  107. 108

    Chris Crocker

    June 25, 2009 4:36 pm

    Leave COMIC SANS alone!!!!

  108. 109

    I’m not a pro designer, but I want to say I disagreed with a lot of the edicts in the article and responses. Only posters Alex E. Schneider and N.N. (search for “outlining of fonts”) say things that make me think they have actual practical experience. In many cases, posters say things that make me think they’ve never read a book on logo design.

    1. It is hardly unusual for companies to announce a re-branding exercise, get a lot of public derision for their logo, and quietly fix it. In other words, highly-paid pro designers can get it wrong too.

    2. Designers don’t usually deliver a *single* logo design. They produce *dozens* of forms designed for different media, scaling, etc. These different forms often appear identical when you’re flipping through a sample book, but when you look at them closely you can see that they’ve simplified small details on a logo scaled for a business card, and they’ve applied little highlights to give some modelling on the spot-color version, and so forth.

    3. I agree that having a photograph as part of a logo is bound to cause problems. But that’s all part of dealing with the client — you have to explain what those problems are going to be. For instance, explain that he’s going to *need* multiple versions of the logo — that way he won’t think your design sucks because it didn’t work on business cards, he’ll just say “yep, we need to pay the designer again to generate a new version, just like he told us”.

    Sometimes, of course, you can’t convince the buyer. Just document your objections, and take the money. And remember, sometimes the customer is actually *right*.

  109. 110

    Excellent article and it’s all fact.

    The biggest offender I see from clients, especially in publications is the use of too many fonts. I spend as much time educating clients on design standards and communciations as I do on design fore them.

  110. 111

    Tejendra Shandilya

    June 25, 2009 7:37 pm

    g8 article

  111. 112

    Schneider you’re spot on from the business standpoint or that of an entrepreneur, but these articles are obviously written for the designers point of view, and in that respect I would say with the exception of the first one, it’s pretty valuable. Great article, but SM you have to admit that having a great logo is completely uncorrelated with success in business, if only that more highly funded projects have the budget to get a “professional” designer to do their work.

  112. 113

    It’s very useful for me,great:)~~

  113. 114

    Loved the Article, thanks SM

  114. 115

    Sameer C Thiruthikad

    June 25, 2009 10:10 pm

    Awesome article!

  115. 116

    Two Socks - Graphic design and print

    June 25, 2009 10:15 pm

    Now if only we could get CLIENTS to read this blog!!!

  116. 117

    Andrew Butterworth

    June 26, 2009 7:31 am

    I would be very interested if you could take a look at the logos on my site and let me know what you think. I am always trying to improve so any comments are welcome. link

  117. 118

    Excellent stuff – in my short career as amateur logo designer I have already made all of those mistakes – good to see them again.
    Currently trying to become amateur++ – see you later ;-)


  118. 119

    There is a large Japanese toy company who merged with a large video game company in 2005 who’s actual logo gets the company name back to front. No its not cultural, its a genuine mistake. So maybe mistake number 11 should be – name on logo, different to actual company name.

  119. 120

    A couple of technical things that was not mentioned in this article, esp. in point one, talking about amateur vs. professional logos. One outcome from an amateur logo designer is basically that your logo cannot be used, because it has the wrong technical specs. So I thought I would just list some technical stuff, since this article did focused more on the design, and not the tech stuff. Needless to say, the tech stuff needs to be in place for the logo to even be used. So here are four very common errors I meet in my job:

    1. Outlining of fonts. There is nothing more annoying to me, I work for a design agency, than to get logos together for projects from other “professional” graphic designers have made, and they have not outlined the fonts, so the font gets replaced when I try to open the file, and it just messes up the whole logo. ALWAYS remember to outline your fonts!

    2. Logos made on white background instead of with transparency. You have no idea how many times I have basically gotten an image inserted into an eps-file. From ”Professional” designers Basically logos that are made for only one background color instead of making them so they can fit on both dark, light and colored backgrounds. This was briefly mentioned, but I wanted to emphasize on the transparency! Please remember to put the logo on transparent background!

    3. Not making compound shapes of the logo-elements. Very often combined with the point above, so it takes forever to make a logo monochrome for printing stuff i.e. in black and white. Clean up your file before you send it away to others!

    4. Not making monochrome and black and white and inverted monochrome versions of the logo. This article did mention the point that many designers rely on color, but should have also more specifically mentioned that a professional logo designer should always make versions of the logo ready to use for different kind of print jobs, or make the logo in such a way that it is easy for me to change the logo into 1 single color for black and white printing.

    / end whining, back to coffee

  120. 121

    @josh about not caring about black and white logo and just using color: I have worked with music festivals and band-logos and the sponsor-logos, and basically, when I make posters for a festival, it is the festival that decides how the posters should be printed, not the single band or sponsor. For example it is quite common to have all the sponsoring logos in one color to make them blend in more with the poster. So I guess my point is that for your own printing – you can of course pay more and always get it printed in neat color, but what about when your client sends the logo away to be used with somebody else, sponsoring/bands/promoting elsewhere? Then you should have thought about a logo in 1 color. :)

  121. 122

    Great article. Worth five stars out of five.

  122. 123

    @N.N.: yap! Especially like these “not cleaned” up files … sometimes it takes hours to clean up all the little small lines, shapes and even senseless/unclosed paths in logodesigns.

    And btw: B/W is really important! Just look at all the small newspapers, your stores should advertise in… Another point for me should be the difference between web and general logodesign.

  123. 124

    funnily enough smashing magazine already broke rule number one, if not rule number two and so on already.
    Smashing magazine didn’t only get non professionals to make the logo, they relied on people from their own community, most of the people in this community are trying to LEARN. its like getting a kid to build your house.
    and don’t tell me that the shininess haven’t been a trend for the last 3 years.

  124. 125

    MJ R.I.P

  125. 126

    Line of Design

    June 26, 2009 1:04 am

    Nice to see the word spread…

  126. 127

    Use to make these kind of mistakes all the time as a rookie, I’d rather draw something on paper before I get any ideas for a logo.
    Never start working at the computer, always think what the logo should represent.

  127. 128

    Jessica Wieberdink

    June 26, 2009 6:06 am

    How funny, when i read this article (very good by the way) there was a banner on top of the page: PROFESSIONAL BROCHURE DESIGN TEMPLATES

    Speaking of professional design :)

  128. 129

    @RCKY Totally with you on the B+W, same with N.N., you don’t always have control over the print specs. Methinks too many posters here don’t really qualify as *graphic designers* – more like html coders (and probably good ones too) who use photoshop tutorials to bang out “look and feels”.

    If you can’t build it in vector, it will suck (why vectorize it after? holy cleanup! Don’t kid yourself with vector trace software – unless you have to I guess).

    Photoshop for a logo? Not only a raster nightmare but people please, don’t jizz in your pants!

  129. 130


    June 26, 2009 7:22 am

    I agree! Great article, straight and clear to the points. A must read to both clients and designers.

  130. 131

    I think the worse thing is to use the wrong fonts, I can forgive other things but when I see Comic Sans it makes me shiver

  131. 132

    This comment is undeniably negative so brace yourself. This list is obvious to designers with any sort of respect for communication design. Point #5 is not a line in the sand by any stretch, I can think of numerous successful marks that do not follow this methodology for example the bank of new york logo that is now extinct due to a merger, its possible to create versions of the logo to reflect the application. Distinctiveness is not solely built on simplicity its built on….well….distinctiveness. #7 is not a relevant point of view, professional firms specializing in branding will always create version of marks for each usage along with a brand guide, these version will utilize percentages for one color reproduction and will even tweak them (color kerning if you will) to create contrast. Overall this article loses site of the big picture of building strong brand identities that have the ability to express themselves across all mediums, reducing itself to an article solely about “logo” (which in that I suppose it lives up to its title).

  132. 133

    Declan ONeill

    June 26, 2009 9:12 am

    Excellent article, especially number 2 “Focusing on current logo trends is like putting a sell-by date on a logo.” this is so true.

  133. 134

    Graeme Roberts

    June 26, 2009 11:20 am

    This is a great article. Think too about color printing in your choice of colors. Make sure that it looks good in digital production printing and process color offset. Spot colors and varnishes can be great on some print pieces, but don’t rely on them to look good.

  134. 135

    Dainis Graveris

    June 26, 2009 12:43 pm

    Wow, actually some time we can dig goldmine, great points made here, lovely post!

  135. 136

    The number 7 can be converted to grayscale, and it works, for axample maybe the orange could be a 80% of black and the yellow a 40%, am i wrong?

  136. 137

    Daine Moodah

    June 26, 2009 3:27 pm

    Alter Falter, wie sich die Leute hier geben! Haben sich wahrscheinlich erst vor einem Jahr die nötige Software vom “PiratenStrand” gesaugt und spucken hier die großen Töne, von wegen, wie toll der Artikel für ANFÄNGER seih… aber sieeee würden noch dieses und jenes anders/besser(!) machen… das interessiert uns doch die Bohne, Leute.
    Trotz allem finde ich den Artikel wirklich schön zusammengefasst.

    Ich wünsch’ euch was SmMag

  137. 138

    This is a great article to point clients at. Thanks for that!

  138. 139

    This is the sort of thing we try to ingrain to our clients!! Love it!

  139. 140

    anybody here need a logo? I can make one for you for as cheap as 10.000$
    that should make me a professional one, right?

  140. 141

    I’ve always found a common mistake is for a client to think that their logo should somehow literally reflect who they are, like a graphical cariacture of the people in the company. Instead, a logo should reflect what they are. The difficult part of a brand/corporate identity isn’t the logo, it’s creating the great product, service and support system that build loyal customers – would you think differently of Lexus or Apple if their logos were a different shape? Based on the teaching of Tom Hughes Iv’e written a short PDF summary, err rant, on this topic here.

  141. 142

    Elizabeth G.

    June 27, 2009 1:16 pm

    Watch how you phrase #1; beginning designers need to get work in order to build their portfolio and become “established and professional.” If nobody hires them, the logo designer will be a dying breed!

  142. 143

    Article is alright, another list of “rules”. If you follow them, again, you are not thinking outside the box. It is ok sometimes to break the rules, but no doubt all technical requirements should be always followed (resolution, outlined fonts, spot colors etc…., … or not, it depends on project).

    Style wise – it always depends.

    For example:

    9. Has Too Many Fonts
    logo for font online store – why wouldn’t they include couple of fonts just for fun to show variety of fonts they offer?

    7. Relies On Color For Its Effect
    what if the logo is for printing services company?

    Every rule has an exception.

    Every business should concentrate on their services better than logo itself. Every one would agree the logo is good if business is successful.

  143. 144

    I’m guilty with some of the mistakes above. My favorite would probably be “contains stock art” Now that I’ve been made aware. I will try to be unique and professional all the time.

  144. 145

    yeah… talking about staying away from trends – Smashing Magazine one great source of trends :) imho

    good blog, nice showcases, but pretty pretty pretty trendy. I think a lot of people would agree.

    no offense

  145. 146

    Armig Esfahani

    June 27, 2009 10:05 pm

    great article… I liked number 6 and 8 the most.. sometimes we forget considering them focusing on the idea we have in mind then wonder why it didn’t look good..

  146. 147

    Here is some simple advice. Spend money on not having a bad logo. Spend money so you don’t end up with a piece of clip-art and comic sans. But DO NOT spend money on having a GREAT logo (unless you’ve got money to burn.) Google did not have a great logo. Are there a billion CBGBs shirts out there because the logo is so awesome? Get a GOOD logo and provide a GREAT service.

  147. 148

    Danish Refai

    June 28, 2009 1:34 am

    Great Article ! A Must for Designers ! Keep it Smashing !

  148. 149

    very informative
    Will keep the tips in mind while designing my lobo

  149. 150

    Great, now I can continue to design my amateur logos much better :-P

  150. 151

    Mahallo Media

    June 28, 2009 3:47 am

    Great tips, thanks for sharing :)

  151. 152

    “7. Relies On Color For Its Effect” is really a very common mistake.
    good article for absolute beginners…

  152. 153

    great! really clear post, nice read
    thanks for it !

  153. 154

    Good article, as a newby designer I really found it helpful and thought-provoking!

  154. 155

    What is wrong with you people? You’re so amazed and so affirmative, it’s like a global disease. The article may have some good points, but it’s not exactly the groundbreaking revelation from the Design God himself!!

  155. 156

    Nice article. A good logo is something every business should not skimp on. More people need to realize that the latest trend will not last as long as their company will (hopefully). Unique logos are key to brand recognition and every designer should strive to give their client just that.
    Thanks for the info.

  156. 157

    Matsuo Amon

    June 28, 2009 9:25 pm

    I love number 8.. xD You used Comic Sans!!! haha..

  157. 158

    Great article. There’s a prevailing micro-trend of writing these sorts of “how-to design a good logo” articles going on across the blogosphere. This one, however, takes the cake with it’s concise, demonstrable images. Three cheers!

  158. 159

    Nicely and briefly put.
    The examples illustrate the points extremely well.

    Well done :)

  159. 160

    Adam Almendras

    June 29, 2009 12:41 am

    Very nice article! very useful.

  160. 161

    This article gonna help me to redesign my own logo.. All-over again ….Shukriya (thanks SM)

  161. 162

    Very useful!! Thanks a lot, I’ll keep in mind all this tips.

  162. 163

    Good guidelines to follow (and break sometimes). Any of you seen/read any of Martin Lindstrom’s stuff (brandsense, buyology)? He’s got some interesting views on the future of logos and branding. Marboro did a billboard ad just displaying cowboys and no logo at all because they found out that that image is so ingrained in smokers minds it gives them a craving.

  163. 164

    eduardo De Faria

    June 29, 2009 9:24 am

    A good logo does not need a computer to be created. A good designer does not need a computer to create logos. And the best logos are those created before computers start to create logos.

  164. 165

    Agree with all, though I’m with Tom some of the way in that #7 is not an absolute. Google and Firefox look like good branding to me yet rely heavily on colour.

  165. 166

    Alexander Gessler

    June 29, 2009 9:11 pm

    Some good facts are in this post! I hope that clients read this article too.

  166. 167

    Nicolaas Van den Broek

    June 29, 2009 11:31 pm

    dissapointing article smashing, another cliched list from the traditionalist…#7 makes my head hurt.
    The advise is great for a beginners however i was expecting something more juicy from smashing. Counterpoints:
    Clearly colour can ‘make’ a logo and is not a mistake logo designers make. Yes an interesting graphic form will almost necessarily make a logo work however this statement has plenty of counterexamples. I.e. Succesfull logos that work as result of color execution. google anyone? amongst many.

  167. 168

    I would not agree 100% on the point: “Keep logo simple”. Look at Sony Ericsson’s new logo – it’s incredible detailed and contains gradients.Good article though…

  168. 169

    Excellent advices and great article !!!!!!!!!!

  169. 170

    I ‘am happy

  170. 171

    Rakesh Sivan

    June 30, 2009 2:52 am

    Nice article with good insights about logos.. It may help designers.

  171. 172


    June 30, 2009 5:57 am

    the tips here are obvious, but there one thing I can’t agree with. There’s no guarantee that the top designer for lots of money won’t use the same concept that you can buy for $10, just because there are thousands of such concepts

  172. 173

    I have done quite well as a designer for some years now. Recently the phone doesn’t ring as much as it used to do and the cashflow is waning. Is it the economic crisis? I think not. The real reason is because I freakin’ hate this “profession” –to the guts– and I have an increasingly bad attitude about it. I totally agree with Mr. Alex Schneider. Quit pretending; most of us don’t give a rat’s posterior about “the client”. That’s the main problem with us “creatives”: what we really want is to inflate our egos to mounstrous proportions by winning stupid contests & getting praise from our colleagues. The world is going to be a very different place in the coming years. Is graphic design a commodity? Hell yeah. even good design. Just masturbation of the aesthetic sense.

  173. 174

    nice article,
    if i hire an icon designer, i can test these things
    thx a lot

  174. 175

    Peter Lacey

    June 30, 2009 9:09 am

    Wow! some people really miss the point of this article. Having a well designed logo doesn’t guarantee success, but having a well designed logo that reflects the cores of the business will certainly help in your promotion of the business. Stating business ethics is missing the point of the article and sadly shows your contempt for designers.
    The monochrome/B&W point is another one that some people don’t seem to have grasped. The logo should work without colour not because of the need to save money in print but because it concentrates on the design and impact of the logo. As for digital printing this is reserved for small runs and though the quality is very good it has draw backs, including the limitations of CMYK and material it can print on. It hasn’t yet replaced web offset or litho and it certainly won’t replace digital media.
    The logo’s I’ve created are all designed in B&W first and then figured for RGB, CMYK or Pantone. The colours may have already been decided but they can cloud the design if introduced too early.
    A great read, which should be the foundation for many readers. Remember, its important to know the rules before you start bending them.

  175. 176


    June 30, 2009 9:33 am

    I have to agree with ReadyPhotoSite, there no guarantee that an expensive designer won’t use the same concept as a cheap-o designer. Anyone, not just 20 year veterans, can come up with a good logo as long as the preliminary work, research, thought, communication and creativity have been put in place. The only way to get better at creating logos is… creating more logos. The more you do, the better you will get. -Henry

  176. 177

    Joe Baron Design

    June 30, 2009 10:12 am

    I think this was a good article. I think starting out everyone tends to break these rules, maybe one or two. I’m a big enforcer on starting in black and white. I think that sample used, could’ve been turned into black and white easily, but for the sake of the argument it made its point. It was very useful and I’m passing on this link.

  177. 178

    In reference to points 8 and 9; Doyald Young said “Every logotype is its own font.” After picking the right font modify certain characters for that particular grouping of letters, because the spelling isn’t going to change. The original font was designed for many possible combinations of letters. Also don’t fall into the “Pick a font, pick a color, here’s the logo” lazy design trap.

  178. 179

    i totally agree. but you’re preaching to the choir. how do we educate our clients to these points without crushing their egos?

  179. 180

    Haha, this is a great post! I just had a conversation with a new client that finally decided to stop doing design work on the cheap. The conversation was basically a run down of the points Gareth makes.

    Sharon, just crush their egos but in a nice way. If they knew what they were doing they wouldn’t have hired you.

  180. 181

    a good article and very informative

  181. 182

    do you realize how repeatedly using the word “amateurish” in your articles seems to cause an insurmountable amount of pain in my ear drums.

  182. 183

    This branding focus. I like Smashing.

  183. 184

    Great post! I think we all have had these conversations with a client or two. People just don’t realize the importance and power of a logo or brandmark.

    createID –

  184. 185

    @bronxgd – quite possibly the phone is not ringing as much because you have such a sh***y attitude. just sayin’

    As for the posters who don’t think that there is a need for black and white versions of logos – I think that you possibly are not aware of all the ways a logo gets used and reproduced. I have been a Sr Graphic Designer for a large international corporation for several years now and I have seen the logo used in many ways – many of them preclude the use of any color, gradient, or detail entirely. For example:
    > Promotional items. Often only one color can be used and it needs to be a solid.
    > blind embossing. for those neat-o corporate gifts like notebooks with leather covers, or briefcases
    > Silk screening
    > Awards. Often these have the logo etched into them. no gradients, no details, no colors.
    > signage
    > corporate communications that get printed on BW laser printers
    > 3D. Logo gets made into a 3D sculpture or giant 3D sign

    The list goes on. A well produced logo needs to retain its essential character in all types of use. In addition, the Designer has not done their job unless they deliver the logo with all production issues attended to: Effects expanded, transparency flattened, fonts outlined, gray scale version, flat color version (B&W), reverse (knockout) version for dark backgrounds, and all of those exported in the common formats that average office workers will need: jpeg or gif for the web and email signatures, PNGs with transparent background for those Powerpoint presentations with colored or textured backgrounds, hi-rez TIFF for the people that need hi-rez but cannot use vector files like .AI and .CD. All that stuff needs to be packed up in a nice organized fashion, including a brief style guide for all of it, and delivered to the Client.
    Another reason to hire a Professional – nothing to do with egos.

  185. 186

    Adam Brewer

    July 1, 2009 7:11 am

    Really enjoyed this post! Number 1 really is the number 1 rule – I wish more people would realise that you really do get what you pay for when you get design work done on the cheap. Thanks for sharing :-) Adam |

  186. 187

    Kellie Frissell

    July 1, 2009 7:16 am

    Nice reminders for all of us.

  187. 188

    logo, simply small but big deal, good article 4 starter

  188. 189

    Cre8ive Commando

    July 1, 2009 5:06 pm

    Some nice and simple tips which all make sense. Here is a basic logo design walk through which aims to help designers create logos QUICKLY as well as effectively (as designers we often have very tiny deadlines to work with!). It would work well with the tips outlined above:

  189. 190

    While all these points make sense and are completly true to a designer customers dont care what the logo design no no’s are if they they have it set in their mind what they want.

    If they like and want 4 differnet font types thats what you do no matter what you think.
    yes its a crime but they are the customer paying your wage at the end of the day no matter what design world rules there are.

    And we were all “amateurish” at one stage or another

  190. 191

    Chuck Spidell

    July 2, 2009 12:06 am

    Damn straight. Every logo designer should already know these rules. Mistake 1 – Designed by An Amateur, brings to mind a larger issue occurring in the design industry. Crowdsourcing websites like crowdSpring, oDesk, 99designs, Elance, and craigslist have convinced business owners they can get an award winning, strategy-driven logo for $50-150. These websites are quickly degrading the worth and value of logo design. Sure, logos are supposed to look cool but they’ve got to produce an emotional reaction within the target audience.

  191. 192


    July 2, 2009 4:29 am

    you`re 100% right with this! Many customers buy cheap logos, low quality and copied! That`s not right! The designers that copy and don`t have a personal idea are not designers, they are just humans that wants to make money without work!

    Great post!

  192. 193

    I can agree on everything except ‘rule’ 7. I think a (great) logo must have the ability to look nice, even in a monotone setting. Great article anyway. Although maybe if you dind’t knew or felt this things from within, you maybe have to ask your self if you should do it yourself.

  193. 194

    It is amazing how many amateurs are out there. They know nothing about logo design. Even in a recession companies should never never ever ever be cheap when it comes to logo design.

  194. 195

    Chris Robinson

    July 2, 2009 9:20 am

    Nice article, for the beginners out there.

  195. 196

    I agree with them all but budget is always a factor and for that I would suggest it’s o.k. to go with decent stock art or a amateur that you can pay only if you like it.


  196. 197

    Definitely a good article for beginners, but also serves as a reminder now and again for the more seasoned vets too!

  197. 198

    A good overview. Thanks.

  198. 199

    Jennifer Becker

    July 2, 2009 1:21 pm

    This is a great tool , especially the specifics on the vector vs. raster.

  199. 200

    Daniel Calderon

    July 2, 2009 3:01 pm

    OK, I totally admit! I think this article is written for someone like me. I really strive to make logos unique, but never with too much success. Besides the point, I make logos for the people who have confidence in my designs. They know in advance that I am not a designer, that I have no design experience, and that I want to make them the best logo that I can. Therefore, the (few) people that I have made logos for have leaned to love them, and that is what I think makes my logos unique.
    Here is a link to my site where you can see some examples of what I am talking about.

  200. 201

    hi guys, can anyone suggest me a good logo designer..u can reach me at shesh_maurya at

  201. 202

    Number 7: The second one looks crappy, and the first one would not show up as just a circle when converted into grayscale. One side would be darker than the other because of the different color lightness. While it’s a good tip to avoid intricate details in slightly different colors that might be impossible to distinguish when black and white, most logos that depend on colors still look good in greyscale. (For example, ebay, google, pepsi, AT&T, NBC, etc)

  202. 203

    Not to mention UPS, and how often do you see a logo in greyscale these days?

    (Didn’t notice the edit button, sorry)

  203. 204

    very nice and important article…for all graphic designers, either they are beginers or professionals…..unfortunately most of the designers today, dont getting the purpose and the main guidline about logo design. i think everyone should know about the points you mark in the above article…..its a good overview … thanks.

  204. 205

    Awesome article, but MyFonts isn’t type foundry, but font distribution service. Just to make sure that all is really clear.

  205. 206

    Very well said! I agree, above are the common mistakes for creating a logo! :)

  206. 207

    Juan Manuel Garrido

    July 6, 2009 9:51 am

    Amazing article!
    Juan Manuel Garrido. EGA Futura.

  207. 208

    Very intresting!

  208. 209

    Sneh | LBOI Blog

    July 6, 2009 10:15 pm

    Very very true! These simple, basic common-sense steps are what separates the true logos from mass produced ones!

  209. 210

    Some good ideas about the behind-the-scene details of graphic design.

  210. 211

    Jonthan Earley

    July 17, 2009 6:28 am

    Great article! I laughed out loud on several of those pointers.

  211. 212

    Rick Hazebroek

    July 20, 2009 7:05 am

    Great article! I hired Gareth a view months a go, he does great work! Good job Gareth!

  212. 213

    i liked your 10 common mistakes know your site sir thanks

  213. 214

    these are really helpful hints…thank you

  214. 215

    Denis Baldwin

    August 1, 2009 6:24 am

    This is a great article. I’ve been doing logo designs for a couple of years and have had many clients INSIST on breaking so many of these rules. I know I’ve lost a lot of jobs because of it, but I’d rather not be associated with amateur mistakes like these. Again, great article!

  215. 216

    A great list of 10 f***ing obvious points about logo design.

  216. 217

    This was extremely helpful. I had no idea about the mistakes I was making. which happened to be half.

  217. 218

    Taylor Satula

    August 16, 2009 10:52 am

    I’ve gotta say I do love the “Smashing Prints” logo even if it is too complex

  218. 219


    August 17, 2009 3:45 am

    I think you should add tall logos to the list. For me those are the biggest pain and just don’t seem to fit right anywhere.

  219. 220

    Of course a site for graphic designers is going to argue that a startup shouldn’t skimp on a logo. However, most startups are cash strapped and thus don’t have the funds to hire a fancy pants graphic designer. It is how good a company executes that eventually matters…not how good it’s logo looks. You can always slowly morph a bad logo into a good looking one over time.

  220. 221


    August 30, 2009 10:50 am

    Awesome! I am definitely a beginner (took a few design courses, taking more for design certificate in jan) and this is a great article! I just designed a logo for my mom’s company and I’m happy to say I’ve avoided all of these mistakes! Thanks!

  221. 222

    This resource is awesome! Best read ever, thanks!

  222. 223

    great article, helped a lot with some logo research i’m doing. great resource, simple and good information!

  223. 224

    Dana Worthing- Mr. Peter's class

    September 8, 2009 3:45 am

    This article was very helpful
    I knew about not using all of the different fonts, but that is the only thing. everything else in this article, like making your design overly complex.

  224. 225

    Really useful article… Now one can understand how many factors involve in making a good logo, because you have to display it from favicon to your product.

  225. 226

    Leisa at Alexandra Design

    October 17, 2009 11:02 pm

    This would help clients of graphic designers understand some of the thought that goes into completing their work. Just one criticism though – not all cheap logos are trash. I offer low priced logo design services to give new businesses a chance to get going on a budget, and experience working with me before progressing to print jobs. Leisa at Alexandra Design, Australia

  226. 227

    Too bad the Smashing logo looks exactly like Try again.

  227. 228


    November 5, 2009 11:38 pm

    thanks for guidelines, I was searching tips exact like these are !!

  228. 229

    veeeeeeeeeery usefull :)

  229. 230

    I could have sworn I posted a comment on this months ago but I have just read all of your replies and I’m happy that this article helped many people.

    To all those who think the points are “obvious” you are forgetting the title of the article. These are the “most common” mistakes I see being made by designers and non-designers every single day.

    Thanks for reading, it was a pleasure to write.

  230. 231

    Just to add to the 6. Overly Complex,
    that a detailed logo can be done with special treatment
    depending its size, imagining the IBM logo bigger sizes
    more lines, smaller sizes less lines for better readability
    Its possible, but need special treatment,

  231. 232

    Great article and great tips! Thanks!

  232. 233

    Great Post. Very Valuable Tips. Just hope, people start understanding the value and importance of a Logo. It is sad to see that these days most of us are ready to compromise – if the price is less we are happy to buy trash.

  233. 234

    Good Work …………….

  234. 235

    Muhammad sajid

    December 3, 2009 4:10 am

    Good work……………..guyz carry on

  235. 236

    Awesome stuff!
    Kewl refreshing post for the pro’s and very helpful for beginners..

    Thanks ;)

  236. 237

    Also – your feedback on our recent logo design work would be welcome! Thanks, Pavan (founder at Agency74).

  237. 238

    Jason Collin Photography

    December 14, 2009 7:10 am

    Very interesting article. I am so glad then that I had a friend design my photography logo and didn’t have to worry about possibly paying big (or small) money to a hack logo design company!

    I totally love the design she made for me, and it is color independent, and not a rasper, only uses two fonts, so she is really good according to this list!

  238. 239

    thank you,it was very useful.I appreciate.

  239. 240

    Using stock for reminds me of going to sites for large corporations and seeing an istockphoto watermark on one of their images, haha.

  240. 241

    New View Media

    January 14, 2010 9:06 am

    Designing for all marketing products is also commonly overlooked.

    What looks great on a business card might be awkward on a large billboard.

    Also researching and sticking to a corporate color palette and formatting rules.

  241. 242

    This is what we are having to repeat again and again to new clients… we wish we had the idea to create such article like this… I would how many rules have we broken in creating all our clients logo ;) check it out at We would love your comments.
    Great article thanks.

  242. 243

    russelpea stickers

    January 24, 2010 5:11 pm

    stumbled this.
    The bases about logo design.
    I really love point 8 (with comic sans), i saw this so many times…

  243. 244

    hello everyone,i think on some of these images its correct ,but on others,its good and theyve not made mistakes

  244. 245

    Great article, thanks.

  245. 246

    I found myself nodding and agreeing with everything in this article! I joined a logo competition site as I had abit of time to kill and was bored, but it was just absolutely FULL of amateur junk I did not want to be associated with. Every possible mistake had been posted as entry!

    Very agreeable article



    • 247

      so if it was amateur junk, and u are so proficient, you lost your chance to win. some time ago you were amateur as well.

      • 248

        Barb, I think Philip made the right decision. Most contest holders don’t understand what makes a good logo, and so they often choose amateur designs which they later regret. There’s also the psychological fact that too many choices lead to bad decision-making; this phenomenon is described in several books, most notably: The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz.

        When a professional enters an amateur contest, it more than likely: a) wastes his time, b) doesn’t challenge him to grow and get better, and c) makes his own work look amateurish via association.

        In fact, having hosted my own logo contest and watched many others, I can say the only time a professional designer should enter an amateur contest is if at least two of the following four situations apply: a) the designer has been asked to enter, b) the designer is bored, c) the designer feels inspired by a particular contest’s brief, or d) the designer feels the contest holder has taste and will recognize talent through the numbing din of amateur entries.

        • 249

          “Never enter logo design competitions, the kid in the wheelchair always wins cause it’s a better photo op.”, Doug Stout

          Sadly, it’s true.

          • 250

            Actually I think ANY kind of involvement in design is beneficial. I know those online/competitive sites are a shark-pit, but if you’re surfin’ Google too much, your time is better served joining in and polishing your technique. Sure. You may never win but you’ll have some nice pieces for your book. Which is one of the things Gareth missed.

            Always practice, logo design, even if you have no jobs, it’s a good idea to play with letter shapes and forms to become more familiar with shape interplay

        • 251

          Both are right Sometimes contest holders are damn crazy and sometime we are.

  246. 252

    Thank you . here after i rectify my mistakes. but my query is why should you did not mark the mistakes of color and Gradient effect. please add it in future. it will help us more.

    • 253

      Ray VanDerLinden

      May 19, 2010 9:14 am

      It is actually more important for the logo to be presented as a 1 color flat image than it is a full color multi-dimensional image. If your logo does not break down well. Epic design fail!

  247. 254

    That’s true, Great post. TFS

  248. 257

    Leighton Taylor

    February 5, 2010 11:08 am

    It’s so true that the “corporate swoosh” turns up everywhere.

  249. 259

    This is very true, I see to many logos designed in colour first and designed in photoshop.

  250. 260

    VictoriaAnn Design

    February 8, 2010 6:20 am

    Logos designed in Photoshop is one of my pet peeves. Also on this list should be ‘not providing the client with suitable files’. This comes up when a client later requests a brochure design or similar for professional print then proceed to send over a 150×60 gif because it’s all they have, designed in Photoshop!!

    Love the images used in your article especially the stock art one – that made me chuckle!

    • 261

      Good article. A coworker breaks almost all of these rules with each design he does -if it’s not just a straight tracing ripoff of something he found online. Copyright lawyers would have a field-day with his work.

  251. 262

    Best way as in previously message define better to surf number of sites for new concept
    Before making any design, better to sketch free hand sketch at least ten design it gives good idea with number of option to catch your audience

    • 263

      smelly bottem

      • 264

        sorry bob,
        u always spoiling the image of this site, shut the f** up and get out and never show off here after otherwise i will squeeze your ba**s.

  252. 265

    Thanks, really helpful!

  253. 266

    There are some tips which are preety obvious, but for who has no experience, even in students projects, it´s great

  254. 267

    Mate, if you want to be contacted for design work I suggest sorting your own website out and actually being contactable! What’s your email?

  255. 268

    im trying to design a logo at the minute for a record company we are setting up in my college this was really useful cheers

  256. 269

    Ashish Gaikwad

    March 2, 2010 5:53 am

    IT is really a great article. Got to learn new thing!

  257. 270

    Gareth,,,can you tell me if my logo sucks?

  258. 271

    Indeed, these are rules I can agree with whole-heartedly. Now, if only I could get my CLIENTS to believe them… *headdesk*

  259. 272

    Hey thanks dude……very informative.

  260. 273

    Very great articles and very useful!
    I’m starting in the design world and want to create some logos and others things in the future, so thanks for this article!

  261. 274

    exelente trabajo hermano

  262. 275

    Simple and effective, as a good logo. :)

    Simple et efficace, comme un bon logo. :)

  263. 276

    This is the second time in a few days I’ve stumbled upon an absolute gem of an article on these pages. I just about pooped my pants when I saw comic sans in that logo…
    But it was the raster vs. vector that made me laugh…

  264. 277

    this is very helpful! thanks!!!

  265. 278

    Very helpful post
    quite realistic……….

  266. 279


    April 20, 2010 12:24 pm

    Yesterday a CEO’s wife sent me the logo comps for their redesign to get my feedback. I thought I was being harsh until I read this article… I hope I saved them from the trendster BS they were subjected to.

  267. 280

    well…’s really helpful…

  268. 281

    Emily Binder

    April 24, 2010 1:48 pm

    Thanks for a helpful post. I wouldn’t call Comic Sans “infamous” but anathema perhaps. It is only good for third-grade teachers and I judge even them with that awful typeface.
    The most useful information in your post is that PS is a poor choice vs. Illustrator- I did not know. Thank you!


  269. 282

    Farooq Azam

    May 2, 2010 3:36 am

    Very useful post. Thanks!

  270. 283

    Certainly some great tips, but can’t help but sense a little irony in it considering your own logo. iPhone App much?

    Not trying to be a dick, I’ve designed plenty of logos in that style. Just couldn’t let it go unmentioned :)

  271. 284

    Chris Jamero

    May 30, 2010 4:32 am

    Though I’m not that good at designing logos, I do upload logos that I create so I can get feedback and improve more. Of course I also research DOs and DONTs when designing logos. This is really very helpful for amateurs like me. Thanks SM.

  272. 285

    Selman Parlak

    June 4, 2010 9:28 pm

    Than you for this post :)

  273. 286

    Cassie Wallace

    June 8, 2010 2:21 pm

    Great article. All of it is true, and sadly, many (even talented) designers break some of these rules.

  274. 287

    Pretty good article and useful advice. One point on the ‘infamous Comic Sans’. When used in lower case, it is the easiest font for dyslexic people to read, so it can improve website accessibility.

  275. 288

    Most everyone on 99designs needs to read this article.

  276. 289

    great article. thank you for the useful advice. :)

  277. 290

    Thank you very much for posting such valuable information. As i am associated with Logo Design & Web Banner Business, so i am very well aware of usefulness of the info..
    Thanks again….

  278. 291

    Anton Hilman

    July 27, 2010 4:48 am

    thanksz for the great tips

  279. 292


    July 28, 2010 2:27 pm

    One of the most common new logo design trends is to use overlapping color, with no separation of lines. These logos look great in their full glory, but what about when the client needs to save money by having to print the logo in single color? The mark is ruined. As mentioned in your mistake #7.

    Yet strangely enough, these are the type of logos I continue to see at the top of the favorites lists in most of the logo design sites like logo pond. I don’t get it. Great post by the way.

  280. 293

    Brilliant article! To the point and very well explained.

  281. 294


    August 3, 2010 9:00 pm

    Hi U!
    Can I translate and edit it into Vietnam languages. Hope you accept, I promisse I will specify the source.

  282. 295

    Bitchy-Ass White Boy

    August 6, 2010 8:38 am

    That was sooooooooooo FETCH!!! =)))
    Hahaha! This article is good, and you guys are junk

  283. 296

    I thought this was a great article, but I would add web 2.0 to the design trend no no’s, in print the mesh isn’t necessarily easy to spot as I am dealing with this issue from a previous designer for a layout.

  284. 297

    Great Collections! thanks for the tip!

  285. 298

    awesome tip! learned so much from it!.. :)

  286. 299

    Definitely a good article for beginners, but also serves as a reminder now and again for the more seasoned vets too!

  287. 300

    I would love to forward this page to every potential Logo design client that has come my way who has either gone with #1, or made the mistakes of #3, #4 and #9, but still doesn’t understand why they have to pay more than $200 for a design they could “do themselves in Microsoft Word”

    I’ve entered a few logo contests out of boredom & for the practice, but I rarely do that anymore because I’ve seen some truly awful designs get picked over much more professional entries (not just my own), and felt almost insulted for those of us who’ve either gone to school, paid our dues in sweat, trial and error or both, and are working our asses off to pay the bills & be a success.

    There are just simply too may dilettantes out there and naive clientele apparently don’t know the difference. They just always do what new or simply unsavvy business people do and follow the bottom line.

    I’ve lost many contracts to the “client’s-neighbour’s-cousin’s-nephew who can use ‘The Photoshop”‘ simply because they’ll do it either for nothing or next to nothing, and someone is doing someone a favour. Or at least they think they are. I’ve also been fortunate(?) enough to have had the opportunity in one case to see the bevelled & embossed, red on black gothic font bitmap catastrophe that followed. Why anyone would leave their corporate identity up to a 16 year old kid with a WoW obsession & a pirated copy of Photoshop is so far beyond comprehension that my brain just might melt at the thought of it.

    As we all know, buying (or more likely downloading) a copy of a design program doesn’t make you a designer any more than buying a stethoscope makes you a surgeon, and 10 years of doing it wrong (i.e. filters for everything) doesn’t make you a professional either, so why the hell do clients keep GOING to these people, wasting their time, wasting their money, creating more headaches than they need to & eventually spending more than they would have if they’d gone to you in the first place?

    Rhetorical questions I know, and questions that may never get answered, unless the one irrefutable law of the universe applies and people really are just cheap and stupid.

  288. 301

    Satish Chathanath

    October 2, 2010 11:08 pm

    Clients should resist the temptation to go to the neighbour or an amateur with faint knowledge of design tools. Because bad logos are ticking bombs waiting to explode when their business grows.


  289. 302

    Very helpful information! Those were the few mistakes people commonly made when creating a professional logo online. Lots of us, especially first timer has no idea what to expect when having their logo done by strangers on the internet. I was lucky to have found Logo Design Creation to design my logo. Although their logo packages are cheap, they are still good and professional. Their work are so creative and well-designed, no one believed my logo cost me just under 100 bucks. I was given a $10 gift certificate from them awhile back. But have not gone back for any design work. Thought I give it to you guys here for free if any of you all are on a lookout for affordable logo design company. Here’s the $10 gift cert code you can use on the site: 9d7k40evxv

    I don’t think I would be getting any design work done by them for now. Thought I might give it away for free here. Give them a shot! You will love them :)

  290. 303

    Excellent article. Thanks for sharing.

    Now-a-days I shiver at the idea of a company putting their identity in the hands of some teen who thinks they can design because they’ve messed around in photoshop a bunch.

    But I can sympathize with that teen because I was once one. I remember designing a construction company’s logo when I was 17. I really didn’t know what I was doing but I thought it was so exciting and fun.

  291. 304

    Denise Iordache- Palkoo

    October 29, 2010 1:24 am

    I partly agree with all your commentaries. First of all, if a company wants a logo for 200$ means that they know the value of the concept that they are going to receive. Further than that you can not say that all designers that are joining contests (for logo design) are rookies, don’t know the tips for designing a valuable logo and so on. I found many interesting designs on this type of contest websites. Many of the designers were Art Directors, Graphic Designers, working in agencies….

    All the Best,

  292. 305

    My dad designed our boutique shop’s logo and I think there are few things I should suggest to him. At least these “10 mistakes” will guide us through. Thanks!

  293. 306

    Most winners in “logo contests” are using stereotypical graphic representations. Any against the trend idea is killed in a blood bath spectacle in gladiators arena. In order to be a “well known professional logo designer” with a “respectable portfolio”, you don’t have to be such a tremendous creative mind, just browse next door logo contest, pick some good ideas, use them and win it. Now days succeeding in this business is simple as that. The designer “thick skin” that become a must have around logo contests, in my humble opinion is pure b.s.

  294. 307

    I wouldn’t be so harsh against crowd sourcing sites, it’s a means to an end and like buying a second hand car, we all would love a brand new ‘shiny’ ones that hit web3 style etc. etc! It’s just not the reality, most business can’t afford current commercial design fees so look to source elsewhere, without that market to gain experience in commercial work, most designers would hardly get off the ground.

    I’ve been in the graphics industry for nearly 3 decades. If you think trends are things to be ignored you’ll probably never get to the top of your profession. Hitting the mark is about being ‘on trend’ or ‘of the moment.’ It’s the reason we study at college in the first place, to understand these moves within art/design and how to exploit them…

    • 308

      I agree with Hugo on this one, I’ve been working with a Dutch company to try and establish a better kind of design crowdsourcing platform here in the UK. I personally believe that crowdsourcing websites are an excellent way for new or unestablished designers to get a foot hold in the industry. Some of these designers get their first clients this way.
      I emailed a large logo design company recently to try and establish some sort of rapport and as you can imagine was met with a bombardment of abuse. I understand some designers feel threatened by crowdsourcing and feel that it devalues design and the process by which design solutions are developed.

      In my experience croudsourcing communities organically establish a financial equilibrium, whereby companies are compelled to offer a fair or even generous prize to the design community or else none of the good designers within the community will submit design solutions to the company’s project. So although a design will generally be procured for less company money through crowdsourcing, designers retain both their integrity and through a shared understanding of the value of design on the platform, promote the idea that good design is worth good money. You’ll find our project at, please leave your feedback.

      • 309

        I’m with Hugo as well! I know there are loads of designers who feel that crowdsourcing is killing the industry, however, to get experience you need to work. I run the Spanish version of the website mentioned above,, and I see our designers grow through feedback from clients and their pride in their work, especially when they make that first all important sale!

  295. 310

    Playing chess against grand masters, simultaneously. Use the last move against the next one, and so on. The result is that with minimal or at all knowledge you can win against some of the big ones. The same “strategy”- cheap trick is applied extensive in logo design around the crowded contests. Swimming against trends makes somehow the difference, imho. It will pay off eventually. Where is the place to look for an exceptional designer? In college, they briefly walk me to latest trends (Web x.0), if they ever did it , instead they show me the ropes, aka Adobe CS.

  296. 311


    I loved to read this article i my self is the designer just want to add my views in this i say that:

    While this is a rather arbitrary subject as everyone will have personal preference, there are some tried and true criteria to meet in order to have an effective logo. One of the main ones is simplicity. Remember that a logo is meant to simply make your company memorable, you do not have to fit every aspect of your business into one small logo.

    Over the years, large marketing agencies have spent a great deal of money in researching how colors will affect ones subconscious. The ones you choose will vary depending on the type of business you are running. Colors such as green, blue and purple will typically instill a feeling of calm, peaceful harmony in the viewer. Brighter colors such as red or yellow and shades in between, will give a sense of bright cheerful optimism. Generally, a logo should have no more than 2 colors, and only one font if applicable. This will go a long way towards simplicity. Look at designs such as Fed-Ex or Microsoft and seem how they have created a timeless, simple logo with harmony in it’s colors, and nothing complex to strain the eye.

    And when we talk of price one should consider cheap logo design services which are offered online by many freelancers because they do really high quality graphics and very cheap price.


  297. 312

    I agree with most of the points on this list. My biggest peeve with the list is that you have the “Don’t use sites like this” under the “designed by an amateur” heading. Websites like LogoWorks and LogoDesignTeam suck for us freelance designers, but to say they are amateurs is both very elitist of you, and very wrong.

    Their designers are quite good. If you look at their portfolios much of their work is better than most professional designers that I’ve seen, as far as logos go.

    • 313

      Christina Wilkinson

      January 15, 2012 7:44 pm

      Saying that amateur designer logos are sometimes better than someone who has been doing them for years is very naive.

      First of all this comment is based on a visual only; not research of the company and how their brand affects their clientele and their marketing. Or a better way to put it is that technology that is able to make something pretty does not have priority over technique and getting from point A to point B.

      I know tons of teens who can design beautiful logos, but it doesn’t mean the logo works for the client as it should.

      Meaningless = Bad end results

      • 314

        I’ve worked in the design industry for 15 years – 11 of those years in agency work – and can whole-heartedly say that the “they don’t do the research” defense is complete rubbish. How much research is required for a logo for a dog groomer? How much for a chip shop? How about a single product plastics factory? Not much. These are the businesses that are using contest sites. Not billion-dollar companies. Single-franchise start-ups that most agencies don’t waste time on (giving the bulk of the work to the intern, throwing together logos in-between meetings with long-term clients, etc.)

        I will admit – I participate in contest site when I’m not working with clients for my freelance business. I was skeptical at first. Some logos aren’t very effective and are geared more towards the client’s taste than their customers’; however, those clients would never seek out a “professional” anyway – so it’s better for them to use a contest site or “cheap” logo service than nothing at all. Many of the designers on these sites are like me – freelancers just looking for new business and engage in some challenge.

        sidenote: You can’t cite Nike’s logo as a good logo example in the same article that you shoot-down cheap/amateur work if you consider the history of Nike’s logo at all. Nike, Apple, McDonald’s don’t have great logos – they have HUGE advertising dollars created by sound products that have made their logos well-known.

  298. 315

    I am new to designing and article like this is certainly very helpful.

  299. 316

    Love this article! It is so hard when you’re new to designing to understand these simple pitfalls. You are overwhelmed and excited and you just want to GO! An article like this is simple and so easy to follow. Going to forward it onto my students. Cheers

  300. 317

    Peter Vasvari

    April 21, 2011 12:18 am

    Great article Gareth!

  301. 318

    yossi berger

    May 9, 2011 1:55 pm

    i am going to write an hebrew article based on your article for the israel commercial clients
    (hope you dont mind)
    any how thx for the examples

  302. 319

    Really helpful info, thanks.

    The articles on Smashing Mag always seem to be much better informed than your run-of-the-mill blog pages. I find myself coming back here all the time.

    I would love to get into logo design and so resources like this are invaluable, thanks for sharing!


  303. 320

    The ideas are good but just because someone is “professional” doesn’t make them good in any profession. There are talented amatuers in all fields. I’ve seen some professional stuff that made me wonder what they were thinking. My dad was a commercial artist so I grew up with some of this stuff.

  304. 321

    I think another good addition to this article, since cost is mentioned initially, is the AIGA and professional stance on spec work, such as logo contests. Being a budding designer myself, I was desperate for any paying scrap of work, at first. But I have come to learn that you really must price yourself fairly, or you will not be respected by the client. They want cheap, but trust moderately expensive. But logo contests are an excuse for a client to try to milk FREE WORK from designers, and choose one. You don;t have all plumbers fix your toilet for free, then pay the one who did it the quickest. Check out AIGA’s site for more on spec work.

    • 322

      Actually the example is quite wrong in my opinion. A plumber can’t sell the repairs he just did to another person, while a designer can. There are a lot of stock logo sites on which you can sell your non-winning logos.

      Apart from that I agree. And this is brilliant and so true: “They want cheap, but trust moderately expensive.”

  305. 323

    why are you all such pompous pricks?

    • 324

      Could not agree with you more anon. This is a good article for someone who is an amateur and wants to learn, but half the people making so many critical comments on here I would be willing to bet they are no better at designing logos themselves so have a bit of modesty and reel it in. I believe an amateur designer is still capable of designing a great logo and people should not have such a dismissive attitude. The professionals don’t always get it right either, 2012 logo anyone!!!

  306. 325

    Well now lads like. This article is very true. Also Anon2. If anyone is going to get it right it will be the professionals. Amateur work is obvious. You should keep your pompous pricks to yourself. Not being smart here. Why are you all browsing this website for more things to disagree with? If you don’t have positive or nice things to say. Then don’t speak at all.

  307. 326

    This article is really true. Like what a good tip. Thanks

  308. 327

    So we should ignore trends, but your Smashing Magazine logo is orange, which is very trendy in last few years. How do we really ignore trends?

    • 328

      So let’s say a trend changes next year and your logo looks outdated when it should have represented your business for many, many years to come-what do you do then? Change it every “two seconds”?? In that case you miss the basic purpose of logo in general.
      There are ways to make logos making them work for a long time. Amateur or professional, if you lack true knowledge of what you are supposed to do and why you are doing it the outcome won’t work well in majority of cases. Picking color orange because it’s trendy is shallow and pointless. On the other hand, picking color orange because orange is perceived as energetic, enthusiastic etc. is a great point if that’s what your e.g. business is known for.

  309. 329

    Muhammad Ayub Ghouri

    July 12, 2011 1:11 am

    Very Nice and helpful post, I am working since 1992 and I understand that type of mistakes are common in new designers and also some of lazy designers who don’t understand what is custom logo design, they always try to find more vectors and vectors to fit in upcoming task and save the time and their creativity which they actually don’t have.

    I wait a year and just hear there is a software called Photoshop that can edit photos with multiple effects many more and there was no layers concept on the initial versions of Photoshop. ha ha ha its true! So my start was obviously vector (as I don’t have other choice).

    Making a logo on Photoshop is the biggest mistake as you can do anything on Illustrator with more flexibility (in some cases when the logo needs some fx and you are not experienced with these tips on Illustrator).

  310. 330

    hey! awesome article! I got some more inspirational logos at:

  311. 331


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  312. 332

    nyc tip for .for begineers visit to learn about designing blog

  313. 333

    This was really helpful. thanks for the tips.

  314. 334

    Speaking of too similar…

  315. 335

    this artical is really amazing.thanks to auther.

  316. 336

    Great…… I agree on every point…..

  317. 337

    all excellent points, great article

  318. 338

    This was a great reminder a good designer should always push the envelope. Your only as good as your last job/design

  319. 339

    I think this article is very good. The points are all worthy. However, the critics seem to be amateurs themselves.

    If one is to be good at anything in life—design, engineering, teaching, or even being a professional blogger—then one needs a grasp on the English language and the spelling thereof! I can’t say that strongly enough. Ugh! It is my pet peeve that there are people in this world that do not spell check their typos, do not have the ability to spell, and/or do not have basic English grammar abilities.

    I am NOT referring to foreigners whose native tongue is not English. They get a hall pass on this. It’s great that they are taking the time to learn a second language. And anyone who does that should be commended.

    But for the rest of you, please, be an adult and educate yourself on the tool we all use to communicate—words.

  320. 340

    Exactly how does a logo fail? Will you stop visiting the local coffee shop that makes excellent mochas because they designed the logo themselves and it’s too plain or too complicated? Will you not eat at the local rib joint because it looks like a hillbilly sign? Will you withdraw your savings because the local bank redesigned its logo to what you interpret to be too amateurish? Logos don’t fail, except in the sense that those with the EYE FOR IT notice it…and no on else. 3 out of 600 people notice or care. Just like a drywaller notices how absolutely horrible the drywall and ceilings look in the most expensive hotel, yet it still remains a 5-star getaway….get my drift?

    • 341

      At some point it’s true, but generally, good designers know how to design for people who are not acquainted with the visual art. They study human perception through visuals to say the least. There’s a lot of work that needs to be considered to get a good logo that reflects companies visions. Just imagine a guy looking for a job won’t come to an interview with his pajamas on. :)

  321. 342

    It’s a really useful post. I found great information here! Thanks a lot.

  322. 343

    Steve Jobs hired someone to do logo is it? He design by himself…So did Bill Gates…Enzo Ferrari as well….An Entrepreneur creates idea from his observation and he add value to his creation by his own creativity. So, he does not need any other design company for his idea….They are making money out of you…They are trying to bring an opinion that u ain’t creative enough to do a design for your own business…How inane can that be?

    • 344

      Let’s not forget, that when Ferrari was founded ( 1929 ) there were no computers to do the designs on. If you correct someone please do some research.

  323. 345

    I recall you yourself, Smash Magazine, holding a contest for your own new logo design and your new logo breaks the “trendy” and gradient “rules”. Your logo is not distinct and appears like a piece of stock clip-art. While I do agree with most of your “rules” in this article, I suggest you take a long look at your own practices Smash, before you sit high on the holier than thou design process criticism throne. Rules are made to be broken.

  324. 346

    thanks 4 this…all positive inputs are truly appreciated…

  325. 347

    Rules are indeed made to be broken….what happens when you print a vector logo? a good raster logo at 300 dpi will look just as good….when do we use black and white in this day and age? Everyone seems to want to future proof their designs so they can be printed on pin heads or boeings….not always necessary and can be limiting…..if a logo is only ever going to be seen on the web wouldn’t an animated one be better? If the purpose is to get attention then maybe it would?

    • 348

      I agree, but hope that designing for your specific client is just understood. There is no “future-proofing” a logo. I mean, bell bottom jeans came back, who knew!?!? lol

  326. 349

    Thanks for sharing this great post!!!!!!!!

  327. 350

    Simplicity is the key when it comes to designing a logo. The thing that should be given the most importance is trying to make sure that the logo is a memorable one and is easily recognized.

    Paul Hyden

  328. 351

    I found this to be a very enlightening article for the beginner. Everything in the article is true. However, I found it narrow minded and rather generic. If that was the intent, then you certainly accomplished your goal. Please don’t take this as a bad comment, simply an honest one. I would HIGHLY reccomend this to business owners, but never to a designer. It is the artists job to create eye-catching designs to entice their prospective client. IMO. Bring the client in, slowly show them the bells and whistles you can add. Get them excited! Then email them a link to this article and ask that they read it over. While they are doing that, design 3 mock-ups. One basic, one edgy that follows the guidelines of this article and the last one just explodeing with filters, fonts and effects. When your newly educated client comes back they will feel good about choosing the slightly edgey design that still uses this articles’ guidelines. Nothing makes a business owner feel better about a sale then it being their idea. IOW, this article is a wonderfull tool but do not let it stiffle your creativity all together.

  329. 352

    thanks for your tips

  330. 353

    Thanx For your Tips And how can I Find the Right Font type for my designs I do a lot of logo but dosent looks good and What can i do for the color Matching.

  331. 354

    Matt Ellwood

    March 7, 2012 3:48 pm

    Love this article. 100% spot on

  332. 355

    Very helpful article for me.. Loved it


  333. 356

    Oh you such a rock star in logo design, Its a awesome tutorial ever seen. I am impressed. It will help me a lot.

  334. 357


    May 18, 2012 3:44 pm

    I’m not agree with “The business outsourced the job via one of several design competition websites, which are mostly populated by amateur designers”. also with “The job was given to an online company that offers really cheap logos”.
    Every person had their own reason to make their logo company. I’m not sure if very…very expensive logo are made by very….very professional designer. And cheap logo always look unprofessional
    Much of several design competition websites and online company that offer low pricing provided briliant logo design.

    Finally, it’s all about art, absolutely flexible price for it. There is no any legal standard to compare.


  335. 358


    July 19, 2012 1:12 pm

    Very good article !!!

  336. 359

    Your number #7 is just plain wrong…the bad example look better than the one oyu say is the right way, yet the one you made is too complicated and those fine white spacing between the re-cycle loop is to thin to print well in fine print…

    you may wish to re-do that one

  337. 360


    That’s a great post, but I have some thinking.

    Many amateur want to become a Professional to. But its need a long way to be it. So, anything wrong with following any design contests for getting many experience? Are the professional designers have their talent since their born?


  338. 361

    Arc & Co. Design Collective

    February 19, 2013 9:41 pm

    Thanks for the great article. We had tons of clients who came to us and told us ” my brother’s nephew can design a logo”. However, there are also tons of clients that fully understand how important it is to spend the time and money to look for professionals.

    If they are serious about their business, they will want to make the right decision. As a boutique agency, we always take extra time to explain to the client what Design Thinking is and why it is important.

    If one wants to be a respected designer, definitely don’t have a price sheet on the website. It’s not just about Cheapening Design, it’s also about creating a chance to meet the client face to face. Because your ” Product ” is not just the logo you are about to deliver, it’s also about ” you ” and “your brand”.

  339. 362

    This is very useful. I am very helped by its. thanks very much.

  340. 363

    I don’t believe in any of these rules.

    One simple reason:

    Multiple award winning logo: City of Melbourne. Created by Landor Associates.

    Relies on both color and trend.

  341. 364

    I think it is funny that Gareth Hardy defines 10 common mistakes regarding logo design and then commits several of them, or at least his company does, himself. It only took me less than a minute to view their portfolio and pick out several mistakes with logos they’ve designed. I say if it looks professional and identifies your company, who cares how you got it or how much it costs? These types of articles are typical of overpaid graphics designers who like to pump their chest about how much they know and subsequently how much they think their work is worth.

  342. 365

    Bruce Morris

    June 14, 2013 1:05 pm

    The tutorial and steps are amazing I have ever seen.
    Thanks for sharing this interesting creative ideas of logo designs.

  343. 366

    Roberto Blake

    July 9, 2013 10:29 pm

    This is a really good article, and despite being written a few years ago, all the information is still valid and something any logo designer can understand. Excellent post!

  344. 367

    Some fare points are made in this article, but the top about amateurs designing a logo is not at all accurate. I am a graphic designer trying to make a start in logo design this does not make me a bad designer, and just because a designer charges you more and has been in design for years does not make them a good one.

  345. 368

    Meilani MacDonald

    October 21, 2013 6:47 pm

    This is a good article, and I agree with its stance. The issue of outsourcing to cheapo online design sites is complex. Yes, to the designers, they are a scourge because we see so much bad stuff coming from them. However, to the countless small business owners and solopreneurs working on a very tight budget, to those who are doing most of their own marketing, they are a very attractive solution to getting a logo done for a price they can afford. I have seen total crap come from these, and I have also seen some pretty good stuff come from the better ones.

    One of the services I’ve provided is logo review and advice for a client who went to two different cheapo sites to get her logo created. She filled out their questionnaire and got several submissions from the logo site, then she hired me to review them with her and offer advice and feedback from a professional designer, and took those comments back to the logo design company with instructions for the next round of revisions.

    In the end, she got something beautiful. However, between the cost of the first cheapo online place, which offered total crap, plus the cost of the second cheapo online place she found, which gave some decent (but not great) submissions but totally off the mark for her brand and messages, and what she paid me to provide advice and feedback she could take back to the designers, she ended up spending almost what it would have cost just to hire a local designer in the first place. She saved about $300 this way, but it was still a lot more than the $200 she expected to spend going the cheapo web site route, and it took a lot longer. So, she DID get something really nice at the end, it WAS less expensive, but it took longer and the process was frustrating. Each business person will have to weigh those factors for themselves… how restrained are they by budget? Is it worth the $300 savings to go through the process, or do they want a faster return that is worth the extra money?

    So it really depends on the business, the business owner, and the owner’s resources, time and budget, and the owner’s ability to review the online company’s submissions with a critical eye to design, branding and messaging.

    Also, where the inexpensive designers are based is another consideration. Will there be communication issues, do they speak the same language as you? There are a lot of great designers in other countries that charge much less because their cost of living is on a totally different scale than here in the US. But does the client have the time and the ability to do their research and find those good designers? Do they have the design and branding knowledge to know how to review and critique the logo comps they receive? Do they have the design and branding knowledge to provide the designer with relevant feedback so they can get what they need?

    Please visit my business blog at :)

  346. 369

    “The wrong people are commissioned. (Local printers are not likely proficient in logo design.)”

    You hit the nail on the head with that one. I worked at a local print shop and it was awful. I was the only employee there with any kind of art degree and I knew my job was doomed when I had to educate the lead “designer” about color theory, the color wheel, and color schemes. She was very unprofessional to begin with but it got much worse after that. She had been working “professionally” for at least twenty years and was pretty angry with me. I say steer clear of companies like this! They always overcharge and underdeliver.

    I also have to take issue with “design companies” who have employees or owners who are “self-educated”. They’re just rip-off sweat shops who won’t pay their employees living wages. If they don’t foster a hostile work environment they do nothing to rectify a hostile environment.

    If people would take as much care in choosing who to work with concerning their professional reputation (and their product), then these companies would go the way of the Dodo. I never recommended that any of my friends use my former employer – even when I was working there. I can’t believe how many horrible companies are around still just because people are too lazy to research who they do business with. Comparison shop, look at portfolios, and yes, ask what they pay their employees. Low paid employees will NOT give their best to a company like this. See if you can talk to an employee or if you see new people every time you walk in (high turnover is a red flag) go elsewhere.

  347. 370

    In an ideal world, every customer should be required to read this article before hiring a designer. Too often, customers want us to create a “great design” but won’t take any good advise.

  348. 371


    November 18, 2013 1:52 pm

    I agree with most of the points on this list. My biggest peeve with the list is that you have the “Don’t use sites like this” under the “designed by an amateur” heading. Websites like LogoWorks and LogoDesignTeam suck for us freelance designers, but to say they are amateurs is both very elitist of you, and very wrong.

  349. 372

    Great post, and what I mean by great post is actually that it triggered so many comments and turned out to be a great discussion.

    As one of the ‘amateur’ the best part of this article is more valuable resources are found. Thanks.

  350. 373

    Most of the designer do mistakes in choosing colors and fonts, both are the most important things in logo designing field. You all shared 10 mistakes are common and designers need to keep in mind these things to avoid from creepy designs.


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