5 Things to Know About Designing a Great Logo

We get it. Sometimes it's hard to know how best to spend your marketing budget. But never underestimate the power of a good logo, or the careful planning that goes into creating one.

Your logo is the foundation upon which all of your marketing materials will be built. You want to make sure it's solid and well-thought out before building the rest of your visual brand. If you rush the process and don't put the work in up front, it could cause headaches for years to come and keep your business from meeting its full potential. At Flight 9 Creative, we've spent a lot of time working with clients on creating their logos, and here is some of what we tell them.

1. Your logo should reflect your personality …

Well, duh. That probably seems obvious. But the fact is that sometimes clients overlook this basic fact and underestimate the amount of thought and planning that should go into designing your logo. Your designer should ask you questions about your company, your target audience, your mission and your competition before cranking out some generic "your business name here" graphic. Your logo is your cornerstone, and, even before we start sketching, we first do some serious research and brainstorming. Make a list of all the words that you associate with your business. Are you conservative or edgy? Fun? Traditional or Modern? What kind of color palette makes sense– bold, bright, natural, soft, sophisticated, or quirky? We ask a few questions and then use your answers to come up with a list of words that begin to define who you are. 

When presented with concepts, your designer should be able to clearly explain the reasoning and rationale for choosing the direction.

2. … but it can't say everything. Drill down to your core message and focus on that.

It's important to keep in mind that a logo can't possibly say everything about your company, just as you can't tell the plot of a book by looking at it's cover. The logo is there to work in concert with other materials and to be a quick and memorable visual representation of your core brand. Since you often have only a few moments – or perhaps just an instant – to make an impression, your logo needs to give your viewer an initial feeling of "I want to know more about this company" or "This company looks like one I can relate to and aligns with my expectations." 

At Flight 9, we take the time to analyze our initial brainstorm and narrow it down to 3-4 words that are essential, and focus on those. The other words and concepts that we've discussed still come into play when we move on to the next steps. Those ideas will come through on your web site, in your advertising and on your social media platforms, and all of these will work together with your logo to reinforce and strengthen your brand.

3. A good logo will stand the test of time.

It's easy to get sucked into the latest trends, but you want to make sure your logo will endure and not look as dated as acid-washed jeans 10 years from now. Carefully selecting a typeface and color palette that has personality – without being trendy or over the top – is an important factor. There are a ton of really "cool" and quirky fonts out there, but you want to make sure your logo is readable and won't go out of style just as your business is taking off.

4. A good logo is scalable.

What is your primary use for this logo? Is it going to live mainly on the web, or do you anticipate placing it on packaging and print materials? How about billboards or promotional items? It's good to know up front if these other applications are important to your company. A full color logo that looks great on a web site might look like a gray blob when you need to print something in black and white. A logo with gradients or halftone (photographic) images won't be easy to translate into embroidered uniform shirts. It's always good to know how you plan to use your mark – before you end up trying to print a 4-color logo with gradients on a golf ball or pen.

5. Try to give your logo "legs."

For many businesses, a good logo can become even better when it has individual graphic elements that can be pulled out and used on other print materials. Perhaps you have a visually interesting logo that has (for example) a star in it, or a stylized letter. That star (or whatever) can be pulled out and used as an icon somewhere else in your print materials, or the stylized first letter of your company name can be used as a watermark or favicon. The more your logo lends itself to flexibility and expansion, the easier it is to create an arsenal of graphic elements that can be used to create visual interest and reinforce brand consistency across all platforms. 

- Kelly