Design Your Logo Like a ProJanuary/February 2006
by Eileen “Turtle” Parzek
A logo is the image that represents a company or its product. Its function is to create a memorable, recognizable impression on the mind of a potential client or customer. A logo is essentially at the heart of a corporate identity.
Where to begin
Creating a logo is always a process though different designers have their own methods. Many designers will begin by sketching thumbnails or playing with shapes on the computer screen until something “clicks” and they follow that path to see where it leads. One way to start is to select a shape that represents the concept of the company and begin playing with it. The idea is to come up with something interesting or clever, whether a viewpoint that is different or an unusual combination of shapes. Perhaps it will be something that will require some guesswork on the part of the viewer, but then be crystal clear when they look at it another way.
Many designers prefer to develop logos beginning with, or consisting entirely of, text. By experimenting with fonts, sizes and shapes, they seek to find an interesting way to represent the company using the form of letters. Again, simplicity is extremely important; this is not the time to use fancy decorative fonts. Whether alone or combined with graphic elements, the text in a logo must be easily readable at small sizes.
Once a form for the logo has been defined, color needs to be considered. Again, color for a logo should remain simple. You can always get fancy with the Web version, but a good logo must work well in one color and gradients of that color.
Contrast is another powerful concept in the creation of logos. You can contrast size, color, fonts and textures to create visual interest. A logo should be simple and abstract, not be complicated or confusing, and again, all elements must be discernible when reproduced in small sizes.
A good logo works in the simplest form. With the advent of the Web, it
is common to see logos that contain gradients, 3-D effects, animation and other visual effects. But if the logo cannot also be reduced to a simple one-color, flat version for use on faxes, your checks and photocopied documents, it is functionally useless. As tempting as it might be to create a whiz-bang logo, a designer must consider all the ways your company’s identity will be disseminated. Once this is successfully accomplished, you can always jazz up your logo later for the Web.
As mentioned before, size is a critical issue when having a logo designed. A good rule of thumb is that if the logo works well in a business-card size, it will scale up nicely to other sizes. Always make sure your logo looks pleasing on paper and in a wide range of sizes before committing to it.
Designing for print or online?
Web and print are two entirely different mediums. If you are having a logo designed for the first time, it is essential that you be aware that your logo must be designed for print first and Internet second. Without getting into the intricacies of print and Web resolutions, suffice it to say they are very different. What might look great on your computer screen will likely print out at the size of a postage stamp and be entirely muddled. If the logo is designed to look great online, depending on the graphics format, it might not scale up easily to a printable version, so it is best to create it in a way that can be downscaled.
On the flip side, the Internet will allow you to take your simple one- or two-color logo and do great things with it, and it won’t cost you thousands of extra dollars to add colors to it, make it 3-D or animate it like it would in the print medium. Once your logo is created for the lowest common denominator, the same form can be enhanced in myriad ways to look more exciting for your website. Just be sure you don’t get carried away with the possibilities until you have a logo that will present a strong image for your company on a simple business card.
Eileen 'Turtle' Parzek is a veteran Web designer and an online marketing and communications consultant. You can subscribe to her free monthly newsletter called Increase Your Reach: Infuse Your Marketing with Technology at www.soho-it-goes.com.
A Good Logo Is Hard to Find
Buffalo Games, a puzzle and game manufacturer located in Buffalo, New York, recently updated its logo. This revision represents the third logo the company has had in 20 years.
It all started with a visor-wearing, poker-playing buffalo unveiled in 1986. The company now refers to this logo as lovable but obscure since they never actually made any poker games.
Ten years later, the company funded high-level research to determine a suitable abbreviation for Buffalo Games Incorporated. The surprise finding: BGI. While they kept the BGI logo for the next decade, the abbreviation never seemed to catch on as people still referred to the business as “Buffalo.”
In celebration of its 20th anniversary, Buffalo Games is unveiling yet another logo this year. It incorporates a more realistic-looking buffalo, sans visor and poker chips, along with the full “Buffalo Games” name. Looks like they finally found a logo that will work, at least for another 10 years.