How NOT to Design a Logo

Creativity is key when designing a company logo, but so are boundaries. That's why we're here to talk about how NOT to design a logo.

January 19, 2023

There’s a lot we could say about how to design a logo. And it’s likely all has been said before.

Instead, we’re going to take the counter approach and tell you how NOT to design a logo. 

Don’t Use Too Many Colors

Why? Your logo should be able to be legible in all black or all white.

We love an eye-catching logo. But if your logo relies too heavily on several colors, color gradients, or other complex visual elements, you may be limiting viable applications of your logo. If you can’t have a version of your logo that works well in black or white (it doesn’t have to be the primary version!) then you may have trouble getting a clear and polished logo in embroidery, engravings, and on promo items. 

Don’t Get Too Detailed

Why? Your logo should be legible on everything from pen engravings to a billboard. 

Size matters when you’re designing a logo. You need to be able to easily read it when it’s small. Another less-than-humorous issue arises when the spacing between letters accidentally spells “bad words” when they are close together. 

Look at your logo with a critical eye. Don’t try and assume “no one will notice.” Assume the worst to ensure you’re presenting your Brand at its best. 

Don’t Try to Summarize Your Brand in a Single Logo

Why? Simple logos are the most effective and timeless. 

Your logo should reflect your Brand, but it doesn’t have to portray everything you offer. The simpler and cleaner the logo, the less mental energy someone has to expend to read it. And if your products or services change over time, then having specific iconography that represents it in your marks could cause issues down the road.

Don’t Include LLC, Inc. or Ltd. 

Why? Because you don’t have to. 

These abbreviations should still be included in the appropriate places, but your branding is an exception. It just looks better without it. 

Don’t Include Your Tagline in Your Logo

Why? Logos without taglines have more applications.

You’ve worked hard to come up with a tagline, so we aren’t trying to silence that creativity. It’s fine to have a mockup with your tagline included -- we do. But your Brand marks should be able to work without it. This creates ultimate flexibility and reduces scale issues in places like website headers and menu bars.

Don’t Make Too Many Versions of Your Logo

Why? Consistent branding is important. 

Too many options will lead to inconsistent usage. If you have 8 different logo options, a potential client may not see the same one twice, making it difficult to create brand recognition. 

The more unified your logo layout and color options are, the more recognizable it will become over time.

We recommend aiming for 4 logos. Your primary without tagline, primary with tagline, single color, and icon only. This gives you a version ideal for most applications, while keeping the differences to a minimum. 

Don’t Choose A Trendy Font

Why? Trends come and go. You want a long-lasting logo design. 

Five years from now, you don't want your logo to make people think, "Oh, I remember when everyone thought that font was cool." Just thinking about a logo in Comic Sans makes us nauseous.

A modified or custom font is ideal. Set yourself apart and make sure your logo is as unique as your company. 

Don’t Use an Unlicensed Font

Why? Legal trouble. 

If you use an off-the-shelf font, make sure you don't use one that isn't licensed appropriately for logos. Just because you can download it for free, doesn't mean it's free to use for commercial purposes. It’s better to do the research beforehand than pay damages (or worse). 

Don’t Use Stock Iconography

Why? Because you won’t be the only one. 

Nothing is worse than seeing your "icon" in another logo (or 10). You put a lot of work into your products or services, and that makes your company unique. Your brand marks should be the same! Have an artist or agency design something that's totally yours.

Don’t NOT Listen to Us

You shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet, but this is one of the times you should not only believe it, but absorb it, process it, and never forget it. 

Your logo is central, and maybe one of the most important, aspects of your branding. If it’s unreadable, unrecognizable, or identical to another company’s logo, it’s no longer an asset but a liability. 

We’ve spent enough hours designing (and redesigning) logos to know firsthand. 

Logos are worth investing in to ensure they are clear, visually appealing, and a positive reflection of your Brand. If you’re looking for someone who knows how to design a logo that doesn’t check any of the boxes we listed today, we’d love to talk! 

Writer: Randy Webb
Editor: Gabrielle Mingus

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