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Smashing Book 5 features smart responsive design techniques and patterns.
There have been numerous creative logo design showcases1, logo design resources2 and logo design tutorials3 posted across the Web. While these help you to create a powerful toolbox for your logo designs, first you need to gain a solid understanding of what makes a logo design good and what you need to consider before starting using this toolbox.
In this article, we’ll get down to the nitty gritty of what makes an effective logo design and we’ll also guide you through the principles and best practices of how to create an iconic brand identity.
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To understand what a logo is, we first must understand what the main purpose of logos is. The design process must aim to make the logo immediately recognizable, inspiring trust, admiration, loyalty and an implied superiority. The logo is one aspect of a company’s commercial brand or economic entity, and its shapes, colors, fonts, and images usually are strikingly different from other logos in the same market niche. Logos are used to identify.
Paul Rand, one of the world’s greatest designers states that “a logo is a flag, a signature, an escutcheon, a street sign. A logo does not sell (directly), it identifies. A logo is rarely a description of a business. A logo derives meaning from the quality of the thing it symbolizes, not the other way around. A logo is less important than the product it signifies; what it represents is more important than what it looks like. The subject matter of a logo can be almost anything.”
A good logo is distinctive, appropriate, practical, graphic and simple in form, and it conveys the owner’s intended message. A concept or “meaning” is usually behind an effective logo, and it communicates the intended message. A logo should be able to be printed at any size and, in most cases, be effective without color. A great logo essentially boils down to two things: great concept and great execution.
“Some wonder what’s so difficult about creating a good logo. They’re small, they look easy to do, so no problem, right? When you only see the result of a designer’s efforts, the logo creation can look like it was a simple task. But it’s not. A logo takes thought and creativity, and many elements combine to make a good one.” (via Harrison Mcleod9)
When creating a logo, follow a process that ensures the final design meets the needs of the clients. Below, we have listed the typical process that professional logo designers follow. With practice, you will no doubt develop your own.
Design brief. Conduct a questionnaire or interview with the client to get the design brief.
Research. Conduct research on the industry itself, its history and competitors. Problem-solve first, design later.
Reference. Conduct research on logo designs that have been successful and on current styles and trends that may relate to the design brief. Follow trends not for their own sake but rather to be aware of them: longevity in logo design is key.
Sketching and conceptualizing. Develop the logo design concept(s) around the brief and your research. This is the single most important part of the design process. Get creative and be inspired. As Dainis Graveris10 has written once, “sketching isn’t time-consuming and is a really good way to put ideas in your head right on paper. After that, it’s always easier to actually design it on the computer. Sketching helps to evolve your imagination: once you understand it, you will always start from just white paper.
Jacob Cass is a logo, Web and graphic designer from Sydney, Australia, who freelances under his business Just Creative Design, which doubles as a wildly popular design blog. Jacob also judges logos for the Logo of the Day website and runs the Logo Designer Blog, a blog dedicated entirely to branding and logo design. Jacob’s talent has brought him numerous international design awards, including Wolda’s “Best of Continent” and “Best of Australia.” Jacob’s work has been published in books worldwide, and he is in the process of writing his own book focused on logo design.