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Logo design: everything you need to know

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.

01. Always get a second opinion

Logo design: Brazilian Institute of Oriental Studies

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, unfortunate shapes and hidden words and meanings (see our logo design fails for more examples).

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

02. Develop the rest of the brand world 

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 London 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.”

03. 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 a 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. Note that Sagmeister & Walsh is no more, see our story on new studio &Walsh.

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.

Logo design: UAH

University of the Arts Helsinki's animated logo twists and jumps

As VR trends continue to evolve, 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. 

04. Help your client roll it out

Thorough brand usage guides 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. See our favourite style guides to see how it's done. 

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. 

05. Deal with public criticism

Logo design: Premier League

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 – it explains how it deals with social media criticism in the video clip above.

Logo design: Mozilla

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

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. Firefox also took a similar route in 2018, and asked the public to help pick its new logo

Be thick-skinned: take valuable feedback on board, and let the rest wash over you.

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