Last Updated on April 8, 2016
A logo is a graphic designer’s opportunity to be remembered for the ages. An effective logo design is a timeless and powerful representation of a product, an attitude, an organization — all in a deceptively simple package. New graphic designers often depend on trends, elaborate imagery, and Adobe Illustrator tricks to craft logos, resulting in an overly complicated and quickly dated design. The following logo design tips for graphic designers can help novices better understand how a strong logo is developed and can help experienced designers stay on the top of their game.
1. Embrace pencil and paper
The simple step of sketching is frequently abandoned in favor of today’s digital tools, but every truly great logo begins with a little graphite. Use sketching to get ideas flowing quickly and to adjust them on the fly. The sketchpad is your opportunity to brainstorm, at far greater speed than in Illustrator. As you sketch concepts — dozens of them — examine use of space and form. Sketch at least three solid concepts in black and white before delving into digital trickery and color.
2. Accentuate the negative
The classic example of clever negative space in a logo design is the arrow hidden in the FedEx logo. Negative space must always be considered in creating a logo. How do the positive elements, like iconography and type, work together, and how is the negative space in and around them shaped? What can you do to accentuate and bring meaning to that space? Perhaps you can carve a letter or icon from the positive space, like the U in the Umbra logo or the comet in Roostar.
3. Find your dark side
This tip follows closely from the idea of sketching, but happens in your digital space. Start with just one or two colors, preferably black and/or a shade of gray, before complicating with color. Every logo will occasionally need to be printed in just black or gray, such as in a newspaper ad, plus this technique helps a designer see the positive and negative space more easily. Enrich the grayscale design with color later in the process, after the forms are solidified.
4. Get with the program
After solidifying the foundation of the logo design, you can experiment with some of the digital tools at your disposal for selecting colors and tweaking shapes. The Live Color feature in Adobe Illustrator helps you choose harmonious color schemes and lets you apply random colors so you can experiment until you find the perfect hue. Pucker, Bloat, Roughen, and other Illustrator effects — used sparingly — can reshape your iconography into something truly unique.
5. Don’t have an identity crisis
In finalizing a logo design, the best graphic designers consider placement of the logo on stationery, business cards, signage, websites, and other expected locations, and even mock up samples showing the logo used in various ways. By contemplating the long-term use of a logo, and adjusting the design accordingly, the finished design will be durable for many years.
A logo design is much more than a name or an icon. It is a core component of an overall brand identity. Graphic designers who sketch their concepts, tread slowly into digitizing those ideas, use design tools to enrich and enhance prototypes, and consider the entire brand identity are able to create unique and timeless logos that become etched into the public’s mind.
- Logo Sketches by VFS Digital Design/flickr;
- Woodheads Stationery by Nigel Lamb/flickr;
- Beach Fitness Logo Version 2 by Adrian Ruiz/flickr
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