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Some advice on logo design for non-designers

I currently have the honor or working closely with Cameron Moll on a consulting project I'm doing. This is cool stuff because he's a rock star in the web design community. That means he's good, connected, and part of the small crowd defining the cutting edge in web design. I recruited his help for my client because I'm confident he'll produce something that will meet the high expectations of my client.

Yesterday we had an identity definition jam session. Cameron's a class act and offered just the right amount of guidance to suss out what the client really wants in a new logo design. The client had previously created his own logo before he gained funding for his project. It was actually a pretty decent logo. It was simple, clean and he didn't try to do too much. Cameron's comment, which I thought was great advice we all might appreciate was this: "If you're not a designer, and you're creating a logo - the best approach is to keep it super simple."

Boy did this ring true. So many times people want some amazing icon/widget component for their logos and they end up looking non-sensical, unintelligible and/or like ugly monstrosities.  My accompanying advice is to work with a simple typeface treatment. Sometimes that's all you need. See Martha Stewart, FedEx, Crate & Barrel, IKEA, Microsoft, Dell, Pottery Barn. Are you smarter than they?

Comments

Mike

I totally agree with keeping the company identity simple.

Mr K

I agree ... but one thing you haven't pointed out. Even though the example TEXT only logos you pointed out are simple there is a LOT of thought and process that goes into these.

FEDEX for example, the E and x create an ARROW that helps tell people FedEx is a forward moving company. The font was rebuilt for them to emphaise this arrow

Carson McComas

Right, good logos aren't merely a matter of finding a nice typeface.

Ryan

Wow. I've never even noticed that arrow in the FedEx logo...

Michael Rienstra

Good article on the FedEx Logo at The Sneeze, http://www.thesneeze.com/mt-archives/000273.php (from Nov 2004).

Jed Wood

I agree that a good logo takes a good designer, which I am not. However, I remember hearing about the FedEx logo in a foundation design class, and my reaction then was "but if somebody has to point out the arrow to the masses of non-designers, who cares?"

I also found it interesting that the guest speaker we had (who had done decades of identity design for huge companies) kept mentioning how many of the companies were now out of business. I couldn't help but think "maybe if they didn't pay you $500,000 for their logo they would have had some working capital left over..."

Naina Redhu

Thoughtful piece.

A logo can not single-handedly make/break a business [ I am a logo designer ]. If the business is doing well and they want a re-designed/new identity and if the designer does a good job - it will help create a better visual and hence customers will be more aesthetically pleased.

A logo is a good way to emphasize what the company/business already does and how well they do it. Just because a company has a rocking logo, it will not get them more business.

Simple is the best way to go - unless the offering is related to tradition and needs to look more like a seal/illustration.

Good graphic design doesn't just need an excellent designer stuffed with common sense; to be successful, an intelligent client is also a pre-requisite.

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