How to Avoid 15 Mistakes Designers Make When Creating a Logo

“A logo does not sell (directly), it identifies.” – Paul Rand

A logo is a picture that creates experiences and evokes feelings. Designers who are creating logos sometimes miss important steps in the process. Whether it will be failing to do a proper research about the clients and their competitors or just forgetting to think about how a logo type will be applied on a different media.

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Apple, the Apple logo and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

Logo is a small but important part of a well-designed system, at least a successful one. Designers should consider many factors when the design brief is handed. The mistakes outlined below can be considered as a checklist for a successful logo design.

#1 – Not doing research

Designing a logo is a complicated task and it is impossible to create a great logo when you do not know what you are trying to achieve or what is the style you are aiming for so you are not creating something similar to a competitor. Try to understand the core of the business, who the competition is, where, how the logo will appear, who will see it. Clients do not usually give you all the information you need. Clients are not designers (at least most of the time) and they do not know how design can help them so they cannot be a source of the right information. Allow yourself enough time to dig the information you need because the more you have the more successful your logo design can be.

#2 – Designing it for yourself

It is more than crucial to understand for whom you are creating the logo. Usually, the audience that the logo is created for has nothing in common with the designers’ one. To be on the safe side and not making a common mistake, try to get as much information as you can about who the audience really is. If you have the chance to meet and talk the audience, do it. After all, you are creating a logo for them, not for yourself.

#3 – Really bad font choice

One of the most common problems. There are millions of fonts available for designers, some of them are really good, others not so much. Learn to tell the difference. Most of the typefaces are created for a body/copy text. On the other side, logos have a totally different level of scale and emotional impact. If you decide to start with an existing font, try to choose one with letterforms that work visually and conceptually for the words you have in the logo. Learn how to adjust the forms and weights to make the words work together. Good idea is to print the logo ideas you have and use some tracing paper to adjust the spacing between the letters so there is a harmony. It also good to see how the logo will look on paper because sometimes it feels different when it is on the screen and on paper.

#4 – The Cliché

Sometimes when a designer starts designing a logo, the cliché idea appears and it feels terrible. Do not worry. It happens to everyone. Starting from a cliché idea is not always a bad thing. These ideas can lead you to some more interesting ideas so do not scrap them immediately. Explore them. You can get a pencil and paper and just doodle some rough ideas. Then the ones that work can be developed further on paper. Finally, when you have a good number of sketched logos, you can transfer them to computer and see what you can do. You might change some of your ideas while doing them on the computer. That’s a good thing, because not everything that works on paper, looks good on the screen…

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#5 – Forgetting that the logo should be versatile

A logo does not exist in isolation. Think about how it is going to be applied. For example, if the logo needs to be used on a tote bag, you should consider how to adapt it. Maybe it should be square? Also, if the logo needs to be used on a busy colourful background, you may want to create an outlined version. The best thing to do is to talk to the client and discuss the applications of the logo. Then you can create a few versions – for web, print, adverts, etc… – And be sure that nobody will mess up with your logo in future.

#6 – The idea was great but not exactly appropriate

You created a beautiful, well-crafted logo and somehow it does not look right. What to do? Return to the brief and read it again. Carefully. Try to do your best and get the job done. Many designers start new projects with great enthusiasm and when things got complicated, complex or just a bit slow, they lose the spark in the process. Sometimes, it is a good decision to leave a project for a day or two and come back with a fresh view. Your great idea can emerge immediately. Design is a process and part of the process it to get some rest from what you are creating and return to it when you recharge your creativity.

#7 – The idea was absolutely great but the client did not get it

Most designers hate it when such thing happens. It is difficult to say whose fault it is. But you are the designer and you should be able to defend your design and explain why the idea works. Some clients have no idea what they want even when they see it. You should be able to defend and argue about your idea. Write up a short paragraph outlining your strongest arguments in favour of your idea and concept, it can help you immensely.

#8 – Points of view

If you are doing a logo for a multinational company, think about how the logo will be translated into other languages. Talk to client about that because there are funny examples all over the Internet when this was not considered into an early stage. Also, think about how the logo will be interpreted on a website domain name. There is a famous example of too tight spacing of the letter “L” and letter “I” the logo for “MEGAFLICKS”. Try to avoid such connotations because clients won’t be happy. You can see some examples if you google “bad logos”.

#9 – Too much input from the client

If you are going to make a living with design, you have to learn how to tell the client his idea is not good at all. You should be able to do that politely. A golden rule in design is when you reject something to be able to offer something better. The best designers know how to do that as good politicians. Try to persuade the clients with your charm.

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#10 – Loving an idea too early

As previously mentioned, design is a process. If you fall in love with an early idea and fine-tune it, you are killing your objectivity and depriving yourself from creating a better solution. Urge yourself to generate as much ideas as possible in a fixed amount of time. Do them in the early stage as most problems are quickly solved in the sketch phase, rather than adjusting a refined versions on the computer.

#11 – Presenting an idea that you do not like

Rephrasing Murphy ’s Law – if you do not like a particular idea and you do not want to get chosen, it will get chosen. So if you have a few designs and one of them is not good enough and you totally do not like it, just do not include it in the presentation to fill some slides because you will be sorry when the client chooses it.

#12 – The design looks like another design

Try to be original. Originality means to create something new and fresh. Do not try to browse Google for a design to steal from. Or do not look in books to get an idea. Use your own voice and the information you gathered. Well, if your client says that he likes particular designs and he wants something similar, you should be able to find out what it is that the client really likes. If he wants you to do a similar logo, then you are doomed, because from a designer you will become a copycat. It is difficult to deal with such situations but there is a way to avoid it. It will happen by creating a strong idea and presenting it with firm arguments about why it good and the client should choose it.

#13 – Inconsistency

There are these types of clients that will just tell you to combine a bit of this and a bit of that and the result will be terrible. It is because you cannot combine different ideas into one. It is just wrong and in 99% of the cases it is just not working. Coming up with a better solution will fix that.

#14 – Not speaking up

Some designers are afraid of telling what they really think. When a client asks you for an honest opinion, you just need to tell him. Not expressing you point of view is not in a favour of both of you. Presenting your opinion respectfully and positively is a courageous thing to do and a good client will appreciate it.

#15 – Too many versions

Enthusiasm is a great thing. Every designer knows when the enthusiastic creativity just hits and you create a great number of versions and you are eager to show them all to the client. Hold it a bit. Have an objective look at all of the versions you created and try to choose a maximum seven preliminary design to show. Otherwise, the client will be confused, he will start giving you ideas and then you will be confused and it all may become a disaster in an early stage. You do not want it. Choose wisely and carefully.

Want to learn more? Check out Selecting the perfect type:The Basics and How to become better and happier as a designer?.

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