6 Logo Design Mistakes To Avoid

Thanks to the broadcasting power of your website and the near-infinite reach of social media marketing campaigns and pull-out displays from the likes of Google’s Knowledge Graph, it’s safe to say that all eyes are on your company’s logo these days. In fact, even the smallest businesses are getting more online impressions and fleeting glances now than ever before.

And in many cases, these companies haven’t given nearly as much thought to their logo as this level of exposure warrants.

At DIGITAL BASE, we’re in the business of helping our clients enhance their online image and increase their exposure among their target markets. One way we accomplish this is by helping our clients improve (or even reinvent) their organisation’s logo.

We’ve seen our fair share of problematic logos in the course of that work. With that in mind, here are six common logo design mistakes we’ve encountered that are well worth avoiding:

1. Copying Existing Logo Design Elements

We’re starting with this issue because it’s the most obvious, but also because it’s one of the easiest mistakes to make for a fledgling business with admittedly tight margins. What’s the harm, you may ask, in creatively combining an existing design with an idea of my own?

The harm lies in the repercussions of what will be interpreted – in no uncertain terms – as copyright and trademark infringement. In a worst-case scenario, you’ll find yourself faced with a losing legal battle. But even if you ultimately get away with this theft of intellectual property, you’ll still be left with an unoriginal logo that’s off-message for your brand and eerily familiar to your target customers.

2. Creating a Pixel-Based Logo

This is the sort of problem you’ll run into if you allow a well-intentioned friend or family member create a logo for you – even if they have indisputable artistic talent. Logos created with raster graphics software (such as Photoshop) encode images in pixelated files known as bitmap images. Bitmaps may look fine at their original scale, but they turn into a blurry, pixelated mess when scaled up for larger applications.

No serious logo designer would dream of creating a raster image for your logo. Standard practice is to use vector graphics software (such as Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw). These programs create a matrix of mathematical points that can be scaled up or down without any pixelation.

3. Overall Lack of Originality

Perhaps you’ve stumbled onto an outstanding repository of vector stock graphics that have been professionally drawn and seem to be in line with the type of logo you envision for your organisation. You may even see a clear path to combining a couple of these stock visual elements to create precisely the logo you wanted.

The problem here is twofold. First of all, even if stock vector images are free to use in certain commercial formats, they may not be available for use with a logo without a licensing fee. Indeed, any worth using are almost certainly not cleared for this purpose.

Secondly, you’re not the only person browsing this vector image repository. Any image that has caught your eye probably did so for a reason. And it’s safe to say others are using it too. This will make your logo anything but original, and that’s only going to detract from your brand image in the long run.

4. Logos with a Poorly Chosen Colour Palette

Most logos have at least two active colours at work. These colours should be intentionally chosen for how they relate to the brand, but they should also be complementary. A well-selected colour palette expresses the core of the brand, while its consistent application ensures consumers recognise your logo when they see it.

Every business, regardless of size, will benefit from well-defined visual identity guidelines. These dictate – among other things – the primary and secondary colours used in the logo, letterhead and other branded collateral. This is the sort of information found in a so-called brand bible or corporate identity handbook. This document ensures that all in-house, freelance and commissioned designers working for your brand are on the same page.

Finally, your colour palette should be clearly defined in both CMYK and RGB colour spaces, which ensures that future designers can precisely replicate the colour in print and digital formats without having to resort to matching colours by eye across un-calibrated monitors. It’s also worth having these colours defined in what’s known as Pantone spot colours, which will end up saving you money on large-scale print jobs.

Ask your designer for more information about spot colours and why you need them.

5. Overly Complex Logo Design

Good logos express a simple message about your company and make it accessible to viewers. Ideally, this message should be an extension of your brand strategy – one that’s subtly communicated through a well-defined colour palette, simple visual elements and carefully chosen typefaces.

This is a complex undertaking, but the final result should be elegant and accessible. Too many visual elements will clash and obscure one another. The more complicated a logo is, the more information the viewer has to process, and this only serves to make the logo less memorable.

It’s also worth noting that an overly complex logo – one with intricate detail and filigree – will lose its effect when scaled down for smaller applications. This can create insurmountable challenges for business cards or small logos printed on small applications like pens, key fobs, etc.

6. Chasing Fads in Logo Design

If there’s a current logo fad that has caught your eye, you can rest assured that you aren’t alone. By the time you’ve commissioned a designer to reproduce this trend for your own logo, you’re likely to find that countless other companies have done the same.

A good example of this is the Nike swoosh – a visual element that was novel when the footwear company introduced it. Scores of start-ups and small businesses moved to use swooshes in their own logos, with the trend hitting fever pitch during the dot-com boom. Today, the swoosh is a timeless component of Nike’s logo, but it looks hackneyed in just about any other context.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting your logo to look modern, or of taking advantage of current design trends. But it’s important not to get carried away. The best logos emerge through collaboration with a talented designer, and they ultimately evolve into a genuine, one-of-a-kind expression of your brand.

If you’re ready to take your organisation’s visual identity to new professional heights, DIGITAL BASE is standing by to assist. Our in-house team of graphic designers are experts in modern design standards, and they’re well-versed in what it takes to make a logo stand out from the competition in a saturated digital marketplace. Contact us today to find out more.

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