Last updated on September 4th, 2017
Want to make your logos really sing? Whether you’ve been elbow-deep in logo design for years or if you’re just getting into design and want to strut your stuff, there are plenty of ways to become one of the best in the business. Logo design is complex, relying on everything from a noteworthy level of skill in typography to a decent education in perception psychology, and that means that there are a thousand different tips on making better logos. Note that some tips you come across may be contradictory, but in a field that’s simultaneously the broadest and the most particular of any design field, both sides can be completely valid.
1. Learn Color Theory
Before you even start doodling mockups, you need to understand what colors mean. According to Smashing Magazine, these are the basics of color theory when it comes to logo design:
- Blue: Reliability, trustworthiness, calm
- Green: Stability, renewal, money
- Yellow: Cheerfulness, youth, innocence
- Orange: Energy, autumn, movement and transition
- Red: Passion, importance, prosperity
- Purple: Wealth, status, luxury
- Black and White: Conservative, elegance, simplicity
Note that any of these “rules” may not apply to every industry, so you should always be aware of the rules of thumb for your client’s field before you start sketching mockups and putting together preliminaries.
2. Check Out the Competition
If you want to be creative and unique, you should look at your client’s competition and then aim to do something completely different. If you want to create a logo that will work with your client’s industry, however, you should look at the top three companies in the field and see what their logos have in common, if anything. What works in this industry, what’s working for these companies, and how can you use it the next time you make a logo? Ask yourself the tough questions and do the research before you put stylus to tablet.
If you’ve been in the business for a while, a great way to update your logo design skills is by checking out your older logos and redesigning them with your current skills and current understanding of design. Don’t approach old clients with logo redesigns, mind you, but make this your next personal design project. Take three to five logos and take a couple of weeks, or even a couple of months, to break them down to their base elements and figure out what it is that makes them work, what you would improve, when creating all new logos. You can also do this with the old logos of your favorite companies, treating the project as an exercise in rebranding without client input. Figure out what you “trust” in your design works and see how well it carries through into new pieces.
4. Clean Out your Font Library
No, really. Be honest, how many times have you spent over an hour scrolling through your available typefaces to find the perfect one for this mockup or that final? Go through your font library and uninstall the typefaces that you don’t use—you can store them on an external drive, tuck them away in an archive or delete them entirely, just streamline your text process a little bit. You’ll find it makes a world -of difference. Techno File Online recommends doing this to help keep your computer running smoothly, but a cleaner workspace makes a world of difference when you want to improve.
5. Keep Things Simple
Regardless of your preference in designing a logo, DesignBolts reports that trends are definitely leaning toward simplicity. Next time you pick up a logo project, keep this in mind and see how far you can push the envelope on “simplicity” while still maintaining the crisp, often minimalist elements that today’s consumers have come to expect.
Don’t forget that simplicity is relative, though. The newest iteration of Starbucks’ famous logo, now a textless image with less detail than ever before, consists of around 30 separate vector elements. Keep your shapes crisp and your designs bold, but don’t be afraid to get a little busy in the process. The better you learn how to maintain detail in the face of minimalist design, the better your work will be.
When it all comes down to it, the only way to really level up your logo designing game is to keep doing it. If you want a future in the industry, or to maintain your current position, then this is an area of design that you need to live and breathe. Stay abreast of all the trends and rebranding efforts in progress, research how well your work has served your clients so far, and figure out which palettes work best for each industry not by reading guidelines on a screen, but by doing it yourself. Never stop working, and your skills will never stop improving.
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