Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Guide to Creating Professional Quality Logo Designs

Logo design is often seen as a quick and easy job; you create a small graphic, stick it next to some text and the job is done! In reality there’s a lot more to it, which makes the whole process of creating a logo or identity a challenging task. Let’s take a look at some of the general rules of logo design, see what guidelines we should stick to in order to build high quality logos, and see how they can all be put into practice to create a logo design that works in the real world.

It’s easy listing out a bunch of logo design rules, but to make this post a little more useful and insightful I decided to show I would implement each pointer into a design of my own. To do so I created a logo for a photography company named Hazrik Photography, and dealt with the project as if it was for real (just without the client communication). I’ll not go into how the design was made as a step by step tutorial, but instead I’ll try and give some behind the scenes insight into my thoughts and ideas by showing how I have personally translated the advice from each rule or guideline into the final logo design.

When you take on a new logo design project for a client, one of the first steps will be gathering together all the information and knowledge you need about the client’s company, such as what they do, who their target audience is, what their aims are and how they want to be perceived through their branding. Many designers use an online form to put forward a bunch of questions, while others might ask over a telephone call or by email. Whichever method you use, try to gather as much information as possible. The more information you have, the easier it will be to tailor a design specifically to your client’s needs, and more importantly be able to accurately represent the company in logo format.

Every design begins with a sketch

Develop a concept

The whole idea of a logo is to create a concept that portrays the company and its values in some kind of graphical mark. The concept you come up with can be as literal or as abstract as you like. Logos don’t always have to portray exactly what the company does, instead it might focus on a particular value or message. This is where all that initial research about your client’s business really comes into play, as you can develop something that’s unique and relative to their company.

Create the logo in vector format

Once you’ve chosen your design concept, you’ll be ready to begin crafting the digital logo file. Building a logo in vector format is one of the most important rules designers should follow. Vector graphics allow a design to be infinitely scaled to any size without losing any quality, whereas raster images that are made up of pixels will distort and become blurred when the size is altered. A vector logo file can be used for any purpose, whether it’s for tiny use on a receipt, or as a huge vinyl banner on the side of a building. Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard vector editing application, with Ai, EPS and PDF files being commonly accepted vector file types. Of course, your client probably won’t have the software to use this type of file, so you might want to render various sizes JPEG or PNG images for every day use, and supply the vector file for professional use.

Ensure your logo is balanced

Just like any type of Graphic Design, you should aim to balance your design with a suitable composition or structure. Logos that have two or more elements should be laid out in harmony. The best way to do this is use simple mathematics or to simply line things up.

Should effects be used on your logo?

Some people enjoy logos with transparency effects and gradients, while others prefer the back-to-basics approach without the bells, whistles and shiny bits. I personally think a logo can often benefit from being tarted up with effects if the nature of how the logo is to be used allows for it. For instance if the design is for primary use on screen, a gradient here and there can really help add depth to the design and give it that extra level of prominence. Even if the logo is being used on litho-printed documents, today’s printers are more than capable of recreating all the effects we can produce on screen in ink. It’s worth noting that your logo should definitely work in a flat colour and mono formats to maintain its versatility, so ensure your logo also works without the effects.

A great logo works in a single colour

As well as full colour and flat colour logo variations, I also developed a mono version of the Hazrik Photography logo that is made up of just one colour. The mono version makes use of a couple of additional lines to maintain the shapes that are usually created by the changes in colour, so it maintains its visual appearance of being three separate elements.

Do you need to produce brand guidelines?

A brand guidelines document is like an instruction manual for your freshly baked logo, it tells the clients how it should be used and what best practices should be considered. For instance, the document might include details on what minimum dimensions the logo works at before becoming illegible, which version of the logo should be used on dark backgrounds and when it’s best to use the mono version. It might also include a section stating that the logo shouldn’t be squashed, stretched or the colours altered. The document might also contain details on the colour swatches used, in Hex, RGB, CMYK and Pantone formats, and what fonts were used in the design.





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