If you're designing your own logo, STOP. You are not properly licensed and certified. That's the topic this month.
So if you're designing your own logo, STOP. For the sake of humanity, please STOP.
This is overstating it, of course, but I see the bad results of DIY logos every week…sigh.
Logos seem so easy. Look at corporate logos like CNN, Microsoft and Nokia. They're just SOOOO simple. Even Adobe, the top company in graphic design software, has a simple logo.
Why? Because it has to work in many different media: websites, business cards, brochures, tee shirts, hats, pens and everywhere they can put it. It should be easy to reproduce, even as a very small graphic on a pen.
Why Amateurs Fail
Most DIY logos fail because of one or a combination of reasons.
The designer includes too many concepts.
Simplicity is key, and that means you shouldn't try to illustrate concepts and ideas.
It's possible to capture a concept in the simplicity of a logo, but it's not easy. Take the Chiquita Banana logo. The company created a version that works as a single color imprint on a small banana label–it's small and it still illustrates the concept of a woman with a basket on her head.
Now, about that logo somebody whipped up for you? It looks great full-size, full-color, on a bright computer screen, but it won't work as a small, one-color graphic. Trust me. I see it all the time. (Okay, maybe it will work, but I see this problem all the time.)
Unless you've studied printing, vector graphics, design, illustration and other related topics AND spend lots of time working through your ideas AND spend lots of time to make sure your logo works across many media, your logo is likely to have problems.
The designer wants something graphically fancy but doesn't have the eye or experience for it.
Shadows, bevels, overlapping elements, gradients, lots of colors…these are great design elements and software makes it so easy. But the experienced logo designer knows that if these elements are used in a logo, they could make logo reproduction more complicated and in some cases impossible. If these elements must be included, the experienced designer knows how to use vector graphics properly, or the designer will create two versions…one with the fancy elements and another simple version for one-color printing.
The logo fails technically — it's not in vector format or doesn't work in certain media or sizes.
VECTOR…logos should be in vector file format. It's just the way it is. When you need something fancy, that simple vector design can be embellished, but the original logo should be vector graphics.
Another technical problem is the size of the elements in a logo. A logo might look great when it's big, but when you shrink it down to put it on a pen for instance, the text and graphic details merge together.
The design is horrible.
Some of the designs are just blah, horrible. Enough said.
How to Create a DIY Logo
You're going to design your own logo anyway, right? It's just so easy. Okay. Here's how.
KEEP IT SIMPLE — Text only. Do not include any graphics.
If you think you must have graphics in your logo, STOP. Consider these logos: Ebay, Google, Nokia, Yahoo. All these logos are text. If it works for these giants, it can work for your DIY project.
Go to http://www.google.com/webfonts.
Google fonts are licensed for commercial use for free. Many fonts on your computer and the internet are not licensed for commercial use without buying a commercial license. Some of the Google fonts are not the highest quality or have limited styles, but there are over 600 fonts. It's a good starting point for DIY logos.
- Type your company name or product name in the "Preview Text" box.
- Use the Google Fonts site to review and select a distinct font for your text logo.
- Call Pacesetter Media. We'll take that font and your text, adjust letter and line spacing for the best look and create a vector file for you. It'll run about $75-$150. Or do it all yourself. It's up to you.
Check out Your Logo Makes Me Barf. The last post was in April 2011, but you can go through the archives. Lots of bad logos. Have fun.
Logo Design Flowchart
Many factors go into good logo design. Computer Arts magazine recruited designer Michael Johnson to create a flowchart for logo design. It illustrates the many factors at play. It's a great tool for designers, and it shows why good logo design is not so easy.