07 December 2015

Anyone Can Design A Logo // In The Studio

I remember something my driving instructor told me 15 years ago, he said that anyone can drive, but not everyone can drive well. I guess that made me want to be part of the ‘can drive well’ group. It challenged me, and driving well is something I  still take pride in today (you know, indicating at roundabouts, headlights at dawn/dusk (but I can see!), not tailgating etc.)

Now logo design isn’t driving, and you can’t learn to do it in 10 hours. But it is something that can be done well, and not so well. Anyone can type a business name into a computer and add a piece of clipart next to it. Even websites themselves can now ‘design’ a logo for you, one website for instance took just seconds to design over 250 logos! Seeing what it generated was a fun game to play, but the chance that it would produce something of value is like the chance of the UK having a summer with wall-to-wall sunshine everyday, it’s just not going to happen.

So, what should a logo be? I think that a logo needs to be three main things:

• Simple. This will help it to be instantly recognisable, which means that it is more likely to be memorable. If it’s not memorable in some way, it’s not doing it’s job.

• Appropriate. It must have a purposeful reason for it’s form, typography, and colour choices. This will help it to convey something unique about the business, or just simply help it target the right people.

• Unique. This helps your business to stand out from the crowd, so customers can easily tell you apart from other businesses. Similar to the way a person’s unique features, such as their eyes, help them to stand out.

Designing a logo is a process that asks questions. Some questions will be simple to answer, like what is it that the business does, and who are their target market? Others will be more difficult to answer as it involves more of a decision, a choice of direction has to be made, like what sort of personality does the business want to convey?

Research must be done into business competitors, this helps the designer to spot trends or potential similarities to avoid such as icons, typefaces, and colours used (after all, a logo should be unique, to help you stand out). The research should also extend into the industry itself, as ideas can often be triggered by anything from historical facts to the equipment used, or even the local geography.

The actual design process can only start after these initial stages, as without these stages all you can go on is a business name, which on it’s own can give very little away. Amazon for instance… rainforest management?  The logos would look a lot different if the designers hadn’t asked even the most obvious questions, or carried out the most basic research. For example, take a look at the recent 'rebrand' for Amazon, provided by an online logo design generator. I’ve made it look like a before and after slide from my favourite logo design blog Brand New, just to help highlight the difference between the original, and the ‘redesigned’ logo. The new logo is fairly simple, I'll give it that, but it certainly isn't appropriate (it was designed 'blind' after all), and unique is definitely not a word I'd use to describe it.

So, although anyone can design a logo, it does not mean that it is going to be good. Ultimately, the designers you choose to design your new logo must care about the end result, care enough to ask the right questions, and strive to craft something that leaves you, the client, happy. However, a logo cannot be called good simply because more money was spent on it, or bad because it was cheap. It is however, wise to invest in the design of your logo as it will become the cornerstone of your business, it’s most recognisable element, as your face is to you, your logo is to your business. As a general rule, you will get what you pay for, but getting a feel for a designer / studio before committing would be wise. Read about them, view past projects, see what they are saying on their social pages, and finally email or call them to double check that they live up to their perceived quality. You will then be able to sit back and enjoy the ride, as having your logo designed should be an enjoyable process to experience.

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