Designing Your Logo – 6 Traps to Avoid

Kevin Connor


Kevin Connor


Don’t trust your gut. Ignore that focus group. Don’t copy the latest hipster brand of your shoes, coffee or craft beer. Get professional help. You’ll be much happier.

Your Gut. There is a rational side to logo design and an emotional one. The typical experience people have with brands is that of consumer, not creator.  And that experience is dominated by emotional appeals and preferences. Getting  to that appeal is a rational design process.  

Informal Focus Groups (friends and family or just people at the basketball game). If you want a mediocre logo that does nothing to differentiate you, create an informal focus group of staff, friends — or worse strangers.  Why? Because you want “expert” branding advice, not random preferences from non-experts. In short, when you ask a human for their opinion, you will get an one (informed or not). 

Avoid Trends. This one is simple. Trends are trends for a reason — they are easy to copy. And amateurs copy everything that starts to gain any traction. Trends have no place in logo design where the whole point is to create a unique identifier.  Design trends are also fleeting, lasting a year, maybe two. They aren’t lasting.  

Avoid Complex Designs. Logos must work everywhere, from an email signature to a billboard. They must work on the smallest screen to the largest screen. They might need to be embossed, screen printed, laser engraved, etched, stamped or molded. In short, simple logos ensure you can use it everywhere. And your logo needs to be everywhere. On top of those practical matters, humans recall and recognize simpler symbols better than complex ones. 

Committees are like Focus Groups, but worse. Now you have all of the problems of a focus group with the addition of egos, hierarchy and perhaps someone who fancies themself an artist. And on top of that if the word gets out that a branding project is underway, everyone will want to be on that committee and they will bring their crayons to every meeting. Worse, some might start sharing their own ideas.   

First Ideas are Often Common Ideas.  Professional brand designers (that’s us BTW) generate a dozen or more concepts when working through potential logo designs. Many of the initial ideas will be instinctive and likely commonplace. Design takes thought, a thorough understanding of typography, solid drawing skills and a knack for pushing past commonplace ideas to ones that can serve as a unique and valuable identifier. 

These six traps often sabotage a great logo concept.  Don’t let them sabotage yours. With a partner like Modern to guide your logo design process, you’ll have a fun, inspiring and honest experience that will yield a mark you’ll be proud to have represent what is the most visible component of your brand.

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