Part 4 – Using the correct utensils
When using both type and symbols, we must consider how our choice of font will work positioned near the symbol.
These days there is an endless selection of fonts available. It’s possible to categorise them into genres such a script, serif, sans serif, slab serif, gothic etc.
The old faith-full’s: Helvetica, Arial, Gill Sans, Times New Roman and Garamond are timeless and are always a good place to start. More modern typeface such as: Frutiger, Futura, Myriad Sans, Calibri and Trebuchet also have qualities that would lend themselves very well to logo legibility as they are clean and un-fussy.
However, you need to choose a typeface that is reflective of your business and matches the style of your design. It’s very easy to go down the wrong path and choose a typeface that you like, rather than a typeface that works best for your brand.
Unless suited to your type of business, for instance – a nursery; a family holiday company; a sandwich bar etc., try to avoid fonts that are too playful or elaborate as they can impair the legibility of your logo.
You can find examples of typefaces from a selection of genres here at dafont.com – but remain mindful of your own business genre, whilst you explore!
For us mere mortals our use of iconography dates as far back as the Greeks and Etruscans, not forgetting the Egyptian script.
These visual elements were the prologue to the story of the alphabet and consequently the written language. In brief, an icon is a symbolism for something instantly recognisable that replaces the necessity for a lengthy explanation.
These days, following in the footsteps the modern masters of the last century, such as Picasso and Matisse, our icons can be more abstract, and don’t necessarily have to have a cognitive connection to a particular object. We attempt at symbolising an action or movement, like a swoosh or swirl. We use graphical elements that suggest textures and emotions. We use light-casting to emphasis shadows and highlights to give our designs a sense of dimension and depth.
I strongly advise checking out what’s out there in today’s market with regards to logo design as there are some fairly common trends. There’s an abundance of logo design books on the market today, you only have to surf through Amazon to peruse at your leisure (check out ‘Logo design – volume 2′ by Taschen [pg.249], we’re in it !). However, I did discover an interesting blog article recently by logolounge. They have reviewed thousands upon thousands of logos over the year thus far and identified some quite common trends. Worth a look if you’re after some inspiration!
Once a brand has gained high level recognition, (nationally or globally) it may be possible to remove the text and use the icon as a stand-alone logotype. Using examples such as the Nike tick and the golden arches of McDonalds, this kind of manoeuvre really does seem to work for the big players who have a need for a logo refresh in order to remain ‘current’ in these ever-changing times.
Confidently dropping the text from their logos allows their companies to develop and evolve without losing the intrinsic essence of the brand that they have previously invested an enormous amount of time, effort and dedication to.
Don’t forget, the combination of text and icon is generally the preferred option for new businesses start-ups as it helps to build brand recognition.
Next time – Part 5 – Setting the timer
Part 3 – Applying the method
To ensure a successful logo the design must be simple, memorable, timeless, versatile, and appropriate. Be mindful that an elaborate, overworked logo is probably not going to be a pretty sight. The most memorable logos are also the most simple. Here are some things to remember when you are considering a variety of concepts provided by your designer.
1. Consider differing mediums
You will more than likely want to use your logo on a variety of marketing materials, whether it’s online or in print. Bearing this in mind, your logo will need to be reproduced in varying sizes and to span various mediums. When you are considering creative concepts, try scaling the designs at down to 10-20%. Viewing logos at their smallest is a good indication of whether or not your logo will work across many platforms, whether it be a favicon on your website or a small advert on newspaper print, to a sign on the side of your building or a poster on a hoarding’s board.
Whilst okay in larger formats, designs with too much embellishment: thin lines, small shapes and light and fanciful typography should be avoided as these qualities will be lost and may even disappear when used at a smaller scale. For some great visual comparisons view this useful article written by iStockphoto, it’s worth bookmarking!
2. Preparing a logo catalogue
Okay, so you’re already thinking about different mediums where your logos may be used, but sometimes you may come up against technical questions that you’re not quite sure how to answer. For instance, you’re booking a black and white advert space in a newspaper and the sales person is asking you to provide a 1-colour version of your logo for a mono newspaper advert. Your designer only provided you with an all-singing-all-dancing full colour logo that looks great on your website and business cards, but once the colour has been striped to gray-scale by the production team at the newspaper, will look more like someone’s lent on your advert while the ink was still wet – just one big, unrecognisable smudge! In cases like this you really need to have several versions of your logo that work in any environment.
- 1 colour – usually black on white although potentially it could be blue on white or any colour of your choice.
- Reversed-out – in some instances your logo may work better white on black or on another colour. The term ‘reversed’ just means white.
- 2 colour – If your logo already looks like its uses just 2 colours, chances are they are made up out of a 4-colour process. This can cause some colours (greens and oranges) to look lack-lustre and may be better off printed as a 2 colour Pantone. Your designer should be able to produce a Pantone swatch book for you to choose an exact colour. As with the 1 colour version, these options may be requested for newspaper printing or screen printing onto a tee-shirt.
- 4 colour (also referred to as ‘full colour’) In printed materials a full colour range is usually made-up by the following 4 colours: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK), however on screen, these colours are defined by Red, Green, Blue (RGB).
Full colour logos can also be very expensive or difficult to reproduce. To keep costs to a minimum keeping your design to a couple of colours, then use tints of those colours. Reducing your colour palette can also work to keep logos from looking too busy.
When considering your corporate colours, be mindful of obvious references. For instance, a financial advisor should avoid red as this colour can be associated with ‘being in the red’ or red ‘final-demand’ letters. Eco-friendly companies would want to adopt earthy tones as opposed to garish, loud colours that are not naturally found in such environments.
Different horses for different courses. You will need your final logo provided in a variety of formats. Here’s a rough guide to their general usage:
- AI and EPS – Vector graphics that preserve the quality of lines and curves etc. when resized larger and smaller. Used for print.
- JPEG, BMP and TIFF (.jpg or .jpeg) — pixel image formats widely used to display photographic images. Resizing is limited. Images are okay when used 100%, but will distort and pixelate if made larger. Used for print and web.
- GIF and PNG – pixel image formats that have transparency qualities. Images are okay when used 100% or less, but will distort and pixelate if made larger. Used for web.
If your logo is to be used by staff members or work associates for internal documents or for a dual-affinity branded piece, I’d strongly advise creating a ‘standards’ document allowing you to distribute a guideline of do’s and don’ts to relevant individuals. In brief, this should include: corporate colours, rescaling, clearance zones, fonts, etc. This will help to project a consistent ‘tone-of-voice’ in all your correspondence with customers and fellow businesses alike. Not only protecting your brands integrity, but incrementally building and promoting a professional company presence.
Next time – Part 4 – Using the correct utensils
You get out exactly what you put in!
One of the single most important visual elements of your business -
is your logo.
I don’t know why, but I’ve always likened the creative process to that of
baking a cake. It may sound odd, but if you read on, the visualisation should all become clear.
You begin by collecting the ingredients, carefully weighing the quantities, then, by applying the method laid out in the recipe and using the correct utensils, before you know it you’re setting the timer – et voila! …a perfect result, created solely to delight and satisfy any appetite.
However – this desired result can only be achieved by properly preparing the ingredients and following the recipe step-by-step. Otherwise, you’re likely to end up with a disastrous result, leaving a bad taste in your mouth and only good enough for the dustbin!
Over the next 6 installments, I’ll be directing you through each stage of the logo development process and enlightening you with some valuable tips, tricks and interesting facts, along with some worthy points of consideration:
- Part 1 Gathering key ingredients
- Part 2 Weighing and measuring
- Part 3 Applying the method
- Part 4 Using the correct utensils
- Part 5 Setting the timer
- Part 6 Proofing the pudding
Now’s the time to pre-heat the oven, tie-up your apron strings and roll up those sleeves…
Part 1 – Gathering key ingredients
From a designer’s perspective, there are 6 key questions I always ask my clients in preparation of any initial creative briefing meeting. Regardless of whether the briefing is for a logo, a website or a corporate brochure, the questions are always the same:
- (If an established business) Can I see what you have produced
in the past?
- Can you provide me with a mission statement or a list of your company’s core values?
- Do you have a detailed customer profile or an example of your target market?
- Is there anything you like/dislike about your competitors’ brands?
- Do you have any preference to: colour, shapes, typeface, iconography, photography, illustration etc.?
- Can you provide me with visual examples of things that inspire you?
Valuable time dedicated to research and planning prior to putting pencil to paper will equip any skilled designer with the clarity and understanding to adopt the mindset of a typical customer, therefore understanding the need for your business’s products and/or services and able to produce work perfectly positioned for that market. In my opinion, this is half the battle of arriving at a successful outcome.
Next time… Part 2 – Weighing and measuring