Tidal Studios | A brand new start to designing your logo

Make a brand new start on designing your logo

Fifteen tips for creating your brand and designing your logo

1. Tell a story

A logo is more than a mere image; it is the public face of a brand. Before even beginning to design a logo, it’s crucial to consider what the brand offers and to whom. Does it need to be represented by a particular emotion or specific utility?  An effective logo doesn’t have to portray a company’s product, and most don’t. Nowhere in McDonald’s famous golden arches is there a hamburger. And Nike doesn’t sell ‘swooshes.’ But each represents the brand through a combination of shape, color and symbolism.

The Toblerone logo not only has an image of the Matterhorn, reflecting the chocolate's Swiss origins, but also a 'hidden' bear, the symbol of the manufacturer's home town.
The Toblerone logo not only has an image of the Matterhorn, reflecting the chocolate’s Swiss origins, but also a ‘hidden’ bear, the symbol of the manufacturer’s home town.
The Apple logo is immediately associated with the global brand.
The Apple logo is immediately associated with the global brand.

2. Keep it simple

When it comes to effectively conveying a brand’s message, simple logos are more recognisable and memorable. It’s easy to try to communicate too much, creating a design too complex for audiences to decipher.

Consider a roadside billboard that is glimpsed at 50 miles per hour or an advert that is flipped past while browsing a magazine. A complicated design will be a unrecognised blur which is why some of the most famous logos consist of one simple shape. Think again of Nike’s ‘swoosh’ or Apple’s bite-marked logo. These basic shapes are immediately associated with the brands they represent. It’s doubtful that a complex design featuring running shoes or computer circuits would be nearly as effective or recognisable.

3. Be unique

Brands are nominally distinguished from their competitors by their logos. A glass of Pepsi looks the same as a glass of Coke but each has a distinctive logo that could never be confused with the other.

When designing a logo that stands apart from the competition, it’s important not to be too literal but to think more laterally. Neither Coke nor Pepsi feature their drinks in their logos and few car manufacturers use a car icon in their logo designs.

The shape of your logo is one of the most fundamental ways you can make your brand stand out from the competition. If all your competitors have rectangular logos, then you might consider a shape other than rectangles to differentiate your logo design.

coca cola
A glass of Pepsi looks the same as a glass of Coke but each has a distinctive logo that could never be confused with the other.
A glass of Pepsi looks the same as a glass of Coke but each has a distinctive logo that could never be confused with the other.

4. Speak to your audience

It’s vital to consider what will speak to the target audience rather than let personal tastes dictate the design. A conservative approach may prefer muted colours and block letters but, if the brand needs to appeal to a youthful, urban audience, vivid colours and striking fonts might be more appropriate.

Market research is vital to determine the target customer base and in what ways the brand aims to reach them.

The original Shell logo appeared in 1904 but it's current format - conceived by Raymond Loewy of Coca-Cola bottle design - dates back to 1971.
The original Shell logo appeared in 1904 but it’s current format – conceived by Raymond Loewy of Coca-Cola bottle design – dates back to 1971.

5. Stand the test of time

Many of the strongest brands seem to have been around forever, even those of the large tech companies that have probably only been around for a decade or so. Design trends come and go but an effective logo stands the test of time. Whilst it’s important to keep ahead of the latest design trends, you don’t want to look like a passing fad. Take inspiration from contemporary logo design but if you borrow too heavily be prepared for your brand to age more quickly.

6. One size doesn’t fit all

Whilst you might require a logo for a website or business card, be prepared that if your business is successful your brand will need to be write large on signs, packaging, vehicles, clothing and billboards. Your logo will need to be compatible with a wide range of media and look just as good in black and white as in full colour.

Effective logos need to be versatile and scalable so ensure that your logo is initially created in a vector format so that it can be scaled up and down without any loss of quality. It can then be exported in a variety of other formats for print, web, stationery and display.

The London Symphony Orchestra logo - strongly evoking the conductor's arm movement - is readily scaled up in size for bus posters, billboards and backdrops.
The London Symphony Orchestra logo – cleverly evoking the conductor’s arm movement – is readily scaled up in size for bus posters, billboards and backdrops.
The John Lewis logo is a simple, text-only logo but is still one of the most recognisable brands on the UK high street.
The John Lewis logo is a simple, text-only logo but is still one of the most recognisable brands on the UK high street.

7. Revert to type

Once you’ve got over your fixation with Comic Sans (the only line that even the most amiable graphic designer won’t cross) choose a simple classic font for your logo’s typography. Employ no more than two fonts and make a distinction between the logotype and the tagline. Many large brands utilise a simple text-only logo style but you can create your own typeface or tweak an existing font to achieve originality.

8. Space – the final frontier

Consider the use of negative space in your logo design; the most effective element of a brand can be nothing at all. This is best exemplified by the FedEx logo where the empty space between the ‘E’ and ‘x’ subtly creates an arrow. Even if you’re not creating a subliminal message, the space around a design is important in defining the logo and preventing it from being ‘interfered’ by other design elements.

The London Symphony Orchestra logo - strongly evoking the conductor's arm movement - is readily scaled up in size for bus posters, billboards and backdrops.
The FedEx logo, featuring its subliminal ‘arrow’, was designed in 1995 and is today one of the most globally recognised logos.
The Twitter logo simply but effectively 'takes off'.
The Twitter logo simply but effectively ‘takes off’.

9. Be prepared to be moved

Creating movement in a logo is useful, particular if the business is in the travel or automotive industries. The use of varying sizes, placements and rotation can create perspective and distance. The use of graphical techniques, the positioning of images and even the slanting of text and objects can infer movement; think of how the Twitter logo appears to ’take flight’ simply by slanting the bird towards the sky.

10. Dream in colour

All the best logos are effective in both colour and black and white but while a design’s impact can me measured in grayscale, a brand’s personality is best expressed using colour. Many books have been written about the science and psychology of colour and its use in triggering specific emotions within a target audience.

Even if multiple colours are used, stick to a consistent colour scheme that can become associated with your brand. use colour theory and the classic colour wheel to effectively match hues and create warmth and contrast. Even if your logo shape changes, colours can still be used to retain the association with the brand.

The London Symphony Orchestra logo - strongly evoking the conductor's arm movement - is readily scaled up in size for bus posters, billboards and backdrops.
The strong blue of the IBM logo represents professionalism, trust, authority, power and loyalty.
Adidas
The rugged, angular shapes of the Adidas logo contrast with the solid, durability of the BBC logo.
The rugged, angular shapes of the Adidas logo contrast with the solid, durability of the BBC logo.

11. Shape Shifting

It’s not just colour that can evoke a mood or emotion within an audience. Even the shape of of your logo can convey meaning and make them more memorable. From the powerful, angular triangles of brands like Mitsubishi or Caterpillar to the seamless curves of McDonald’s and Nike to the solid, durable squares of Microsoft and the BBC – even the most basic shapes can become iconic in their own right.

Round shapes – such as circles, ovals and curved lines – project positive emotional messages, harmony, benevolence and endurance; think Chanel, Nivea, Chrome, Dell. More angular shapes – including squares, triangles and other polygons – can suggest stability, authority and ruggedness.

12. A clash of symbols

Many recognisable brands employ a visual double entendre, in which iconography takes on more than one meaning to convey a more powerful message.

Amazon is a universal brand that uses a simple logo consisting of the company’s name underlined with an arrow which just happens to point from the ’a’ to the ’z,’ reinforcing the retailer’s boast of offering anything a buyer could want.

The London Symphony Orchestra logo - strongly evoking the conductor's arm movement - is readily scaled up in size for bus posters, billboards and backdrops.
The Amazon logo wittily points from ‘A’ to ‘Z’ reflecting the corporation’s product delivery service.

13. All in proportion

Logos that are too wide and short or too tall and skinny are generally not as pleasing and those that fall within a square or more 3:2 proportion. It’s not to say that logos can’t fall outside of this rule but if a design’s width and height is not proportionate, it can be difficult to use across the range of marketing media. Your logo needs to work effectively on, for instance, websites, business cards, signage, vehicle livery, clothing and advertisements.

Established since 1366, Stella Artois' original horn logo not changed for centuries.
Established since 1366, Stella Artois’ original horn logo not changed for centuries.

14. Stick with a design

Logo recognition is key and happens over time with consistent display. Studies suggest that even toddlers can discern many brands by their iconic logos. One aspect that can certainly hinder brand awareness is change. As with any learning, repetition is key and the more audiences see a consistent logo, the more they recognise the brand. If the logo changes, the brand recognition can disappear with the original design so once an effective design is determined you should think carefully before changing it.

The London Symphony Orchestra logo - strongly evoking the conductor's arm movement - is readily scaled up in size for bus posters, billboards and backdrops.
The Nike swoosh logo was designed in 1971 by Carolyn Davidson, a graphic design student at Portland State University. She was originally paid just $35 for her time but was rewarded ten years later with a gift of Nike stock.

15. Memories are made of this

Above all, an ideal logo should be memorable. It needs to stand out and your audience needs to remember the design and associate it with your brand. Take the Nike logo; it’s the most memorable logo in the United States and United Kingdom with 16% of respondents citing it in a 2015 Sigel & Gale report. The typeface itself is fairly underwhelming, but solid, bold and angled to reflect movement. It’s the swoosh however that is most evoked and raises the logo into iconic status. It’s a relatively simple tick mark shape that is fluid and indicates movement and speed; the design also resembles a wing and hinted at the brand name, Nike, named after the Greek goddess of victory.

Posted: August 2nd 2018

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Tidal Studios has designed literally dozens of logos over the years and helped all sizes of companies develop a brand identity. Whether you are a fledgling start-up business with lots of enthusiasm but don’t know where to start or whether you are an established company looking to evolve your brand ready to expand into new markets, we can help.

We’ll look at your business, analyse your audience, research your competition and listen to your ambitions. We’ll always aim for engagement, flexibility and expansion with whatever logo design and branding solution we develop. We want you to be satisfied but always endeavour to look beyond your personal desires to those of your customers and what will attract them to your business. We always measure our success by your success.

You can see some examples of our Branding & Logo Design. If you have a particular project in mind or if you want to talk more about how we can help with your logo design or company branding, drop us a line using the secure form.

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