What Makes a Logo Great?

When selecting an image, font or design for your logo there are many things to consider. Choosing a professional graphic designer helps to ensure your logo represents your brand well and gets the point of your business across.

I frequently get asked "What makes a logo great?" There is no secret formula to creating a perfect logo, but there are certain characteristics that many great logos have in common. Here are my 5 best tips based on mistakes I commonly see: 

1) Make sure its easy to read. Typography is so important. Handwritten, stylized and very thin fonts can look fun, but they are often difficult to read- especially at a quick glance like on a moving vehicle or billboard. Clean fonts are easier to read- particularly for older people and when seen at a distance.  I recommend keeping fonts clean and easy to read unless the font really fits your business. 

2) Use simple imagery. I often have a client come to me with an idea that involves multiple elements like flowers, a sun and clouds. This can get very busy and can make it difficult to understand what the business actually does. Any imagery used in a logo should help tell the story of what products or services your business provides so someone who cannot read the name of your company can guess what you do. 

3) Be unique. How can you symbolize your brand in a different way than your competitors? It seems almost every law firm's logo includes the scales of justice and every landscaper's logo has a tree in it. It is hard to stand out if you logo looks like everyone else's. Sometimes this is unavoidable (especially if the most apparent representation is in the name of the business), but whenever possible I try to stay away from the obvious choice of imagery for a logo. 

4) Make sure its built in vector. Your logo should always be built in a vector based program like Illustrator and not an image based program like Photoshop. Vector images can be scaled up infinitely without any loss of resolution. That means your logo will look just as crisp and clear on a billboard as it will as a Facebook profile picture. Any true graphic designer knows this already, but many business owners don't. So many inexpensive online logos (including many online logo contests sites!) are built in Photoshop and if you ever need it enlarged it will be pixelated. There is no easy fix for that so you will need it completely rebuilt. If a designer is not building a logo in vector that is a major red flag.  

5) Get the design files. Once your logo is complete make sure you get a copy of the vector file. Even if your logo was built in vector, it cannot be enlarged without loss of resolution if you do not have an EPS, AI or similar file. This is another fact that many people are unaware of. I always provide the design files for no additional charge, though some designers may charge extra.

There are many factors that go into logo design and all graphic design relies heavily on the creativity of the designer. Hopefully these tips can help you avoid common pitfalls and come up with a great starting point for a logo.