Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Logos 101 - Business Owner Guidelines for Logo Design

You should know up front that I am The Logo Handler and not a logo designer. I have designed a few logos in the past, but it is not my forte. Clients entrust their logo to me for printing and marketing purposes. While I can't design you a glorious logo, I can tell you immediately if the logo is going to cause you troubles along the way. I've spent the major part of my career working with corporate logos. Some logos are great and others are a problem. They might be pleasing to the eye, but they pose a myriad of printing issues.
One critical mistake people make at the very beginning is to offer their designer little to no direction. They find a designer, give them the company name and tell them to design a logo. In most cases no further direction is given. Perhaps some preferred colors or a suggestion or two on a symbol that might be used, but that's it. The business owner assumes that the designer understands the needs and parameters of logo design. From my experience, about 50% of the logos I encounter are centered on aesthetics only. While an eye pleasing logo is important there are many other things to consider that will play an important roll down the road.
While it might be tempting to use a friend or family member who dabbles in graphic design (and are usually very cheap or even free) the logo usually ends up costing you down the road. You are more likely to encounter issues with design egos and have to deal with time delays. They may also not have the technical knowledge (bitmaps vs. vector, bleeds etc.). This is less of an issue for logo design but can cause major issues on other projects. On the other hand, don't discredit these people. I've seen some great work come from aspiring designers and those who design as a hobby.
Regardless of where you find your logo designer, make sure you review their portfolio and then confirm these two criteria:
1. Find a designer that will provide you with a vector logo. If they can't, get another designer. If they don't know what a vector graphic is, do NOT hire them!
2. Make sure they will give you the following files:
- The original (vector) file from the program the logo was designed in.
- A (vector).pdf of the logo.
- A (vector).eps of the logo.
- Three high resolution.jpg's of the logo, one 2" wide, one 12" wide and one 24" wide.
While your computer probably does not have a program that can open the first three files, make sure you have them on a disc in your office and stored away on your computer. Future printers and designers will need these files. See Images 101 for more information on vector vs bitmap.
In addition to a logo that looks good and makes sense for your business, make sure your designer follows these guidelines. You too should run their designs through these considerations (color, size and shape):
Colors play an important role in a logo. Ideally you should keep colors to a minimum, avoid shading and keep colors separated. When printing full color digital graphics you probably won't run into any issues. Digital printers print graphics just like your color inkjet or laser printer. In general, digital printing is expensive and is not always available for non-paper items.
Keeping colors to a minimum can save money. Printing applications for apparel, signage and promotional products will cost more for each color. Promotional products generally have a set-up charge and a run charge per color. Screen printing will also cost more for each color. Design a logo with one or two colors or have a version that can be used as a single color.
Tight color registration can cause issues. If your colors are touching that's considered tight registration. Text that has an outline around it is a good example. Promotional items that are silk screened or pad printed can't always achieve this. Tight registration can also become a problem if you are photocopying something in black and white. Two completely different colors can look like the same color and end up being a big black blob when photocopied. Avoid tight registration or have a version of the logo that doesn't have tight registration for these situations.
Color fading/shading can't always be printed. Most non-digital printing applications print solid colors. If you have a solid color that fades or shades into a darker color or another color you will need a modified version of your logo.
Custom colors can cost money. Printers carry standard ink colors such as but not limited to red, navy, royal, dark green, yellow and black. Most printers will charge a fee to mix a specific color for you. Promotional logo'd items are also mainly available in standard colors. If you selected teal blue for your logo and want to find a teal pen for your company, you would be very limited in your selection.
Text or lines that are too thin or small aren't effective and can "disappear" when printed or photocopied. The small parts within a lower case "e" and "a" can also fill-in if they are too small. When selecting your logo make sure that you can shrink it (or a version of it) down to 1" wide. One inch is about the smallest size you will print your logo.
Shape is much more than a vertical or horizontal design. Shape needs to take into consideration what is referred to as white space. Avoid design elements that protrude too far away from the main design. If your logo has a lot of unusable white space and you want to print it in a small area, the white space can prevent you from having space left for contact information that you want to include. See the illustration below. Think about how the logo will look when paired with your address or website. Ask the designer to put your address block next to the logo as it might appear on a business card or on letterhead.
An important note on different versions - You shouldn't feel restricted by any of these guidelines. For example, a logo that looks like modern graffiti would most likely go against all of the guidelines above, but if that's what you want then that's what you should have. Just ask your designer to produce modified versions that can be printed in a single color or smaller spaces. I've seen companies with 10 page booklets and dozens of variations of their logo that can be used for different applications. Be prepared.
Think about color, size and shape when designing and selecting your logo. You should also have different versions for different applications. Make sure you have the right files stored away for printing. Keep in mind that the most recognizable and most famous logos are simple and the colors are limited. Work it and re-work it until you have the perfect logo. It's your logo, take ownership of it and keep your logo visible!
Tara Bodansky, The Logo Handler is the leading source for ideas and solutions that pertain to the usage of your logo. She is also the Founder and Creator of the CREEDS Program and President of AdVisibiliti Promotions. For graphic illustrations of this article, visit http://www.TheLogoHandler.com.

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