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Logo Design & How to Avoid Disaster

Published by Mark in the blog Mark's blog. Views: 439

Your logo is a graphic representation of your company name, trademark or brand. A unique, recognisable identity or 'corporate logo' has become an essential part of business strategy and success so it's vital that proper consideration be given to this aspect.

A carefully planned and well designed logo can help you to:

• Establish brand loyalty
Retain brand loyalty
• Gain more clients
• Increase sales

A few do's and don'ts!


It's a BIG no-no. Period.

It's extremely unlikely that you will ever be granted sole copyright of a logo which uses clipart - even if you purchased the clipart or it came with your software. In many cases, the use of clipart in logos is expressly forbidden in its terms of use (read the smallprint or End User Licence Agreement).

Using clipart can also seriously damage your credibility and lose you vital sales...

Special Effects:

Bevelled edges, drop-shadows and glowing edges seem to be everywhere these days. Sure, they can add drama when applied sparingly but they can also distract (and even detract) from your design if not used carefully. Fine if all you'll ever need it for is the internet, but another consideration is when you need to have the logo printed - you'll need a high-end (and usually expensive) printer to reproduce the work accurately and consistently. Keep it simple!


Light greys, shadows and/or gradients in logos do not fax or copy well! Printing designs with these attributes on certain items (t-shirts etc) can also be problematic and/or costly. Ask your designer to provide a 'spot colour' version as well as the gradient colour version. You should also obtain a suitable version for faxing and black & white printing - for use in Yellow Pages and the like.

Spot colour? The most effective logos (especially in terms of cost) are those with up to three colours or less. A design which uses spot colours can be matched with high accuracy again and again across many different media.

CMYK? Also referred to as '4 Colour Process'. This method must be used for printing full colour photos and designs containing gradients and/or drop-shadow effects accurately. Instead of a pre-mixed ink for each colour, the image is broken up into percentages of 4 standard colours: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK). Exact colours are achievable across different media but it can be difficult and takes more effort and expense.


Westerners read from top to bottom, left to right. So why is your logo in the centre or right of your page? Placed at the top left of your web page, it's the first thing prospective clients will see - and that aids your branding efforts.

Text-Only Logos:

A text-only logo is usually only the preserve of large multi-national corporations who are already well-established in their industries. Nike is just one example of a company that doesn't need to use its symbol to differentiate them from their competitors - they've already achieved supreme brand awareness through countless years of marketing. They are at the stage where they can use either the name 'Nike' or 'the Swoosh' symbol on their own without fear of brand confusion.

Not so for the startup or SME who should almost always employ a graphic device that their audience will remember - and, more importantly, one which will set them apart from their competitors.


Use of monograms (initials) will make it difficult to build credibility. Brand awareness will also take much longer to establish than for a standard logo.


The typical life-cycle of a logo could be as follows:

Year 1 to 5 - Graphic Element and Full Trading Name (••• Davis & Davis Electrical Ltd)
Year 6 to 10 - Graphic Element and Shortened Name (••• Davis & Davis)
Year 11 to 25 - Graphic Element and perhaps reduction of the name to a monogram (••• D&D)
Year 26+ - Lone use of either Graphic Element or Initials.

Monograms may look great initially, but it will make your branding efforts that much harder.


Complex illustrations and photos generally make very poor logos. Think about how its going to look when it's reduced to small size on a business card - will the client be able to make it out? For high impact, simple designs work best and are easier to remember. And for most designs - especially company logos, make sure it 'works' in black and white too!

File formats:

Many inexperienced/amateur designers will design your logo in Photoshop or some other bitmap image editor. Fine if all you'll ever need your logo for is on a website. But what if your online business really takes-off? You might one day need printed items and even need to display the logo on advertising hoarding or place it on company vehicles. The logo designed at web resolution will be pretty useless; as enlarging it will cause it to appear fuzzy and 'pixelated'. Insist on 'vector' format!

Professional designers will initiate your logo in a 'vector' application such as CorelDRAW or Illustrator. Vector designs can be enlarged or reduced infinitely meaning that your logo can be placed on anything from a matchbox to the side of supertanker without any loss of quality.

Your designer:

Avoid going for the cheap option. Many sites which provide a bidding system are populated with so-called 'agencies' who employ a cheap workforce from countries abroad. As such, you are unlikely to ever communicate with the designer directly and, because of their geographic location, they are unlikely to understand your business culture and ethos. And consider also - how are you ever going to wring their necks if it all goes horribly wrong or they rip you off?... ;)

Others include 'the teenager' sat in his bedroom running pirate software and pretending to be a seasoned graphic designer or agency. Sure, you'll only pay £20 for their efforts but ask yourself if you're really getting value for money?... it's your business' credibility at stake!


Finally, insist that your chosen designer formally assigns you copyright of the artwork in writing. If they don't, you could find yourself on the receiving end of legal action in 20 years' time when they claim for backdated royalties... it happened to Nike - and despite top lawyers, they lost to the tune of millions! ;)

This article © Eagle Imagery™ 2008

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