25 logo design tips from the experts

Logos don’t exist in isolation: they need to be applied. Once you’ve perfected your logo design, the final stage is to bring it to life as part of a wider branding scheme. Here are five logo design tips to get this important final stage spot-on.

21. Always get a second opinion

Logo design tips

Logo for the Brazilian Institute of Oriental Studies. Presented without comment

Don’t underestimate the value of a second (or third) pair of eyes to identify things that you might have missed during the design stage. Once you’ve worked up your logo design concept, always make the time to sense-check it for unforeseen cultural misunderstandings, innuendos and hidden words and meanings.

Many design studios advocate pinning work-in-progress up on the walls to enable constant peer review, but if you’re a lone freelancer try to find some trusted peers to cast an eye over your work – and return the favour, of course.

22. Develop the rest of the brand world 

As we set out in tip five, a logo design is just one small component of a branding scheme – and should be developed in tandem with other activation points as part of a wider ‘brand world’.

This term is integral to the branding process at Shoreditch-based agency SomeOne, and as co-founder Simon Manchipp sets out in the video interview with Computer Arts (above), it’s much better to achieve coherence between different elements than simply consistency: “Consistency is solitary confinement - the same thing every day,” he laments. “Cohesive is different: a more flexible, smarter way of doing things.”

23. Consider how to bring it alive

In the modern branding marketplace, a static logo that sits quietly in the corner of a finished piece of design work is often not enough. Consider how your logo design could come alive in motion for digital applications, and collaborate with animation or motion graphics specialists if necessary to explore its potential.

Here are couple of examples of logos brought to life through animation: firstly, Function Engineering by Sagmeister & Walsh, which adds a playful, Meccano-like twist to the mark.

Click on the image above to see University of the Arts Helsinki's animated logo

And secondly, the University of the Arts Helsinki by Bond, which bends, twists and distorts to enhance the dynamic, modern feel of the type-led logo.

As the VR revolution continues, more advanced immersive brand experiences are becoming increasingly accessible, and in recent years branding agencies have also explored the potential in generative design and user participation to introduce a much more dynamic, unpredictable component to logo design. This is not always possible, of course, but keep an open mind and experiment with new techniques when you can. 

In the video above, two Brand Impact Awards 2016 judges – ManvsMachine’s Curtis Baigent, Ben Gibbs from Wolff Olins – debate the role that interactivity and motion design could play in future of branding: 

24. Help your client roll it out

Manuals 2, designed by Spin and published by Unit Editions, is a fascinating insight into the world of brand guidelines

Thorough brand usage guidelines should cover everything from colour options, to minimum and maximum sizes at which logo designs should be used, positioning rules, spacing – including exclusion zones from other design elements – and any definite no-nos, such as stretching or distorting.

Some agencies swear by them to ensure a smooth, consistent handover to a client’s in-house team; others feel they can be overly restrictive and prescriptive. Design-focused imprint Unit Editions has published two titles dedicated to best-practice examples from around the world – Manuals 1, and Manuals 2 – that make for invaluable reference tomes for your studio bookshelf to help you get them right.

25. Deal with public criticism

Logo design tips

Like Airbnb the previous year, DesignStudio’s high-profile rebrand of Premier League attracted more than its fair share of criticism from traditionalist football fans

Over the last few years, social media has become more prevalent, and every man and his dog has developed an opinion about design. Accordingly, this final point has developed from an occasional annoyance into something that anyone working on a relatively high-profile rebranding exercise should bear in mind.

As we’ve set out above, a great branding scheme is about much more than just a logo design, but on platforms such as Twitter, when a newly released project is often encapsulated by a single image, this is often the first and only thing the public jumps upon. 

London-based DesignStudio has experienced this backlash several times in the last couple of years, first with Airbnb and more recently Premier League – they explain how they deal with social media criticism in the video clip above.

johnson banks’ open-source Mozilla rebrand whittled down various creative routes in the public eye, taking feedback on board

Recently, johnson banks embraced the growing interest in design, and harnessed it during the design process itself in a hugely ambitious, fully open-source rebrand of Mozilla - involving the public at key stages of the process and enabling them to steer the creative routes chosen. Be thick-skinned: take valuable feedback on board, and let the rest wash over you.

Enter your best branding to the Brand Impact Awards

If you’ve already mastered the craft of branding, submit your best work to Computer Arts’ international awards scheme. 

The Brand Impact Awards celebrate the very best branding work from all around the world. Deadline for 2017 entries is 9 June, although an early-bird rate is available until 28 February. Find out more at www.brandimpactawards.com

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