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Essential Ingredients for an Exceptional Logo

Your logo symbolizes all that is your company, product, service or event. It is also the “handshake” for when you can’t be there in person, so it is vital for a business to get the logo design right from the very beginning. Conversely, if done incorrectly, it will be a poor reflection on you and your business for a long time to come.

Take advantage of this exciting opportunity to breathe life and energy into your business, providing something tangible for people to rally behind. And for Pete’s sake, don’t let your niece or nephew “do your logo” unless they have the proper training and professional background. Countless brand identities have been compromised and otherwise good businesses relegated to the lowly rank of amateur status, simply because their logos looked like Sally or Joey whipped them up in five minutes on their iPads. Hire a pro.

I hope the following list helps you understand all the things that need to be considered when designing a logo. It is much better to be prepared from the outset, rather than caught off-guard later in the game, with deadlines looming and business opportunities hanging in the balance.

1. Simple
Simple is anything but simple to do. Taking a complex set of business objectives and distilling them down into one simple symbol or logotype that encapsulates everything a particular business is about, while still accomplishing the eleven things that follow, is anything but simple.

2. Unique and memorable
We have all heard there are no new ideas, just a re-hashing of the old ones. However, a first-rate designer will find a way to give your logo a new twist that makes it compelling, triggering a positive association with your business every time it is seen.

3. Don’t be trendy
It is important for logos to be current, but that doesn’t mean trendy. Things that follow the latest gimmicks and hottest trends get old really quick. Shoot for quality design that will stand the test of time — I am sure your business plans to be around for awhile, so your business image should follow suit!

4. On target
No matter how attractive or memorable a logo is, it won’t mean much if it doesn’t satisfy the business and brand objectives determined at the outset (you did take the time to do this before beginning number 1, didn’t you?). As your business identity continually reinforces your brand, it should also be emphasizing the right things.

5. Work cross-media
Logos need to work both online and in print. Experienced designers account for this in the earliest stages and design accordingly. This needs to be addressed when producing final art files, as well. Depending on the particular circumstances, it may also need to work for things such as embroidery, engraving, etching, embossing, etc. These may even require alternate logo versions to be created but not all logos are that easily adaptable.

6. Hold up at all sizes
Logos need to look good when scaled up to the largest billboard or when reduced to fit the slimmest of pens. There is nothing worse than a logo that reveals its imperfections when giant or looks like a squished bug when small. And here’s one little tip: be sure your logo is designed in vector format (if you don’t know what this is, skip immediately to number 12!).

7. Effective in full-color and one-color
There will be occasions when a logo still needs to look great when there isn’t the luxury of using multiple colors and costly inks. From low cost promotional items to fancier items such as crystal awards, metal plaques, and embossing on special papers, one-color art is required that will exploit these special manufacturing processes to the fullest.

8. Ease of use
A logo that even a professional designer has trouble using is not a good logo. Nor does it help if the usage guidelines are complex and difficult to understand. In fact, it practically guarantees that the logo will appear incorrectly more often than not, thereby fragmenting the brand.

9. Mass appeal
While I believe strongly that there is good design and bad design, logos can be very subjective and what appeals to one person may not appeal to someone else. In fact, many people seem to enjoy shooting down logos as some new kind of blood sport. A quality logo, charged with functioning effectively in the world of commerce, should appeal to more people than not, leaving a positive impression that drives business.

10. Fit the big picture
A logo, no matter how good, is only one component of any comprehensive branding program. It should fit seamlessly with the overall design strategy, ideally forming the foundation of a cohesive program that speaks with one, powerful voice. In the best of situations, the logo provides the visual impetus from which everything else is derived.

11. Provide limitless value
Expert designers partner with clients to arrive at the best solution, because design is a process. It is the only way to design a logo that truly works — and is a big part of what is missing from those other “cheapo” design services. Designers are adept at working within budgets, but the value of a good logo goes way beyond what may be perceived at the start. A smart logo keeps on giving and lies at the crux of your entire brand identity.

12. Hire a professional
To ensure that the 11 steps articulated above are taken into full consideration, work with a professional designer or agency. Whether you are a fledgling startup or a huge mega-brand, there is a designer or agency that fits your needs — partnering with you to create the right logo for you and your business. Hiring a pro saves time, headaches, and money in the long run, and designers enjoy seeing their clients succeed as much as the clients themselves. It could be one of the most important investments you’ll make.

If accomplishing all this in one logo seems a bit like standing on your head, chewing gum and rubbing your tummy all at the same time, it is. Only more difficult.

Logos are widely misunderstood and their simplicity can deceive one into thinking they are easy to do. But if you look at the list above, I think you will see that a good logo which may look simple on the outside, is anything but simple on the inside. In fact, most designers consider logos to be among the most difficult of assignments.

So, what has your experience been with logos? Are you happy with yours and has it been effective for your business? Is there anything you would have done differently?

This post first appeared on the best list site on the web, 12 Most.
Featured image courtesy of Paul Biedermann, re:DESIGN.

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