Whether you’re selling cans of soup or a new line of haircare products, your logo will be the first point of contact between your company and the customer. It’s like stuffing the entire story of your company into a jar. One look at your product labels and the customer should know who you are, what you’re selling and why they should choose you over your competitors. That can be a tall order, especially when you only have a few thousand pixels to work with.
While you might think that you can always change your logo later, rebranding your company with a new image can lead to confusion among your customers, especially if your company is just getting off the ground. Before you commit to a logo, make sure you’ve done your research. Understanding the connotations of your logo can help you increase brand recognition by up to 80 percent and increase brand comprehension by up to 73 percent. Every color, line and shape can have a sizable effect on your audience and their state of mind. Let’s dive in to the most important aspects of a logo, so you can grow your business and make the right impression on your consumers.
But First: Appeal to Your Target Audience
Before you design a logo, you need to know a thing or two about your target audience. Is it primarily male or female, millennials or baby boomers, business owners or consumers? Once you have an idea of whom you’re trying to reach, you can customize your logo so that it appeals to your target audience. But knowing your target audience is also about knowing how they feel. Your customers should have an emotional connection to your company and the products and services you sell, and logo design is one of the most effective ways to elicit a reaction from them.
We know what you’re thinking: If you don’t have a logo, you’re probably just starting out. And if you’re just starting out, how do you identify your target audience? You can use all of your existing campaigns, testing and beta groups to help understand your ideal consumer profile. Another great way to get a good idea of your most valuable consumer is to look at the audience of your competitors and make educated assumptions. If your audience varies widely, catering to every gender and age group, then try to make your logo universal.
1. Color: Use it to Convey Emotion
The first thing a person sees when they look at your logo is color. It sets the stage for the personality and overall feel of your brand. In fact, researchers believe that different hues color a user’s impression of a brand’s imagery more than almost anything else. Even though the suggestions below are backed by science and do have some clout, it’s important to note that color perception is shaped by personal experiences , context, cultural differences and personal preferences, so you may not get the same response from everyone who interacts with your logo. It’s usually best to limit your color scheme to just two or three colors or less.
- Warm and Hot Colors — A yellow or orange logo will convey feelings of warmth, positivity, joy and energy. A red logo will encourage feelings of passion, hate, intense love or even danger. Some great examples of warm-colored logos include Nintendo, Coca-Cola, Levi’s and McDonald’s.
- Cool and Earthy Hues — A green logo will drum up thoughts of the environment, interconnectedness, harmony and relaxation, while a blue logo will conjure up feelings of sadness, progress, leadership and healthcare. One of the best examples of an earth-toned logo is, of course, the famous Starbucks mermaid. Blue logos are also some of the most popular—Twitter, Facebook, Chase, AT&T and Venmo all use blue.
- Unconventional Shades — Just because most contemporary logos fall into a few popular categories doesn’t mean you can’t think outside the box. For example, a pink logo will strike a chord with female consumers, hinting at themes of motherhood, beauty and romance, but it also signifies something different and rule-breaking— think Barbie, Dunkin’ Donuts and Lyft.
- Bold or Basic Black — It may not be the trendiest shade in logo design, but black still stands for strength, authority and reliability. And if you want a logo that’s simple, straightforward and signature—like Apple, Nike and Puma—then black is a great place to start.
2. Typeface: Make it an Easy Read
Your logo’s font is right up there with its color scheme in terms of importance. Not only does your chosen typeface have the ability to influence your brand’s overall story and the emotion you want to convey, but it also helps burn your brand name into a user’s brain. Repetition is important to brand recall, and if a customer can easily identify your brand in a sea of competitors, you’ve already got a leg up! Not only is it a good idea to incorporate lettering into your design, but it’s a good idea to make it memorable and eye-catching.
- Choose Clear, Legible Fonts — A letter-based logo is no good if no one can read it. Make sure that you choose highly readable fonts so that users can read the name of your brand with a quick glance. This might mean opting for a bold, serif font over a script font or making the lettering the primary focus of your logo.
- Create a Custom Typeface — Instagram, Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, Disney—all of these pioneering brands have one thing in common: They have their very own typeface. And, there’s a good chance that you know exactly what it is without the need to look it up. A good way to add originality and style to your logo is to partner with a font designer to develop a typeface that’s all yours.
- Tell a Story with Lettering — Fonts are an excellent way to subconsciously affect a user’s perception of your brand. For example, high-end companies usually use high-end and formal typefaces—think Louis Vuitton, Bergdorf Goodman and Versace—whereas playful, disruptive brands keep it fun and casual.
- Understand Font Anatomy — When you’re researching or designing typefaces for the first time, you’ll come across words like serif, ligature, ascender and swash. Get a basic understanding of how fonts are designed so that you know what to shoot for. A good rule of thumb is that serif fonts tend to be more formal, whereas sans serif fonts are more clean and modern.
3. Iconography: It should Be Iconic
There’s nothing worse than having a boring logo that people can’t pick out from a lineup. Creating a logo is about creating a signature identity for your company, and that identity needs to be unique. That means you need to set yourself apart from the competition. Take stock of the market you’re trying to break into and see what kind of visual identity your competitors have carved out for themselves. Now take your logo in the opposite direction. Find a way to make your company unique by filling the void left by your competitors.
- Go Bold with Colors — Standing out in a crowd means creating an image that catches the eye. Use bold, contrasting colors but only enough to get your point across. You also need to organize the space in a way that encourages the viewer to keep looking. But don’t take this tidbit too far. One or two colors is usually enough to catch a viewer’s attention.
- Leverage Your Whitespace — Some of the most unique and talked-about logos are those that use whitespace in a creative manner. Whitespace is simply the part of your logo in between its official design elements. Some great examples of logos that use whitespace well include the FedEx logo, which features an arrow between the E and the X, and the Toblerone logo, which has a bear hidden in the Matterhorn.
- Make it Scalable — As we’ll cover below, your logo needs to be versatile and scalable so that it looks great in every environment. Choose graphics that are easy to scale and don’t look strange, warped or misshapen when you need to make the logo smaller or larger. You should still be able to identify the core shapes and read lettering on a logo regardless of how it’s been manipulated.
- Use Visual Movement — Let’s look at one of America’s best-selling brands: Pepsi. Notice how the lines in the logo bend and curve, creating what appears to be a sphere or an eye. It gives the image visual movement, as opposed to a simple circle. Features like these can make a big difference when you’re trying to attract attention.
4. Versatility and Consistency
Your logo will be the face of your company, but your company can take many different forms. From your website to the labels on your products, your logo needs to be consistent. In fact, 90% of consumers expect that their experience with a brand will be similar across all platforms and devices. Maybe the customer is looking at your website on their phone. Can they still see your logo? What happens when you put your logo on a massive banner? Does the quality still hold up? The answer should always be yes!
- Make it Multichannel — Make sure your logo has the versatility to be effective across different applications. Chances are you can spot the Apple logo from a mile away. Why? Because it’s simple enough that you can recognize it in any setting. Your logo needs to look picture-perfect in hundreds of applications, including your App Store icon, website banner, letterhead and product tags.
- Make Sure it Prints Well — These days, many logo designs exist primarily in a digital format, so sometimes we overlook the fact that they often need to be printed on product labels, swag and more. One of the most important things to consider when printing is that logos need to look clear and legible, even when they’re printed extremely small. Keeping your design simple will help ease the transition to the physical world.
- Have Multiple Adaptations — In order to make your logo look right at home in any environment—from tote bags to packaging—you might want to consider designing a suite of like-minded logos to ensure that your branding looks great in every application. We can look to sports team logos as great examples of logo suites. For example, the Cleveland Cavaliers use a more complex shield logo with a bold C at the center and lettering at the top, as well as just the C icon alone.
Putting It All Together
So, what’s the bottom line? It’s all about creating an image that’s easy to recognize and tells a story. Your logo is one of the most powerful ways to increase brand recognition and help your product stand out, and if you don’t design it with clear messaging that aligns with the spirit of your brand, you’re missing a major opportunity. By creating something special and powerful, you’re reinforcing that your company is one to trust.
Creating a logo is all about converting the story behind your company into a concise, effective, easily recognizable image. You only have a few seconds or a few thousand pixels to make your case, so every detail needs to work to your company’s advantage. Learn as much as you can about your target audience and give them a positive, memorable impression of your company. That’s how you turn a casual viewer into a loyal customer.