In my earlier post 2009 – Year of redesigned logos I did not consider some of the logos, since I feel the designers did not do justice with them. Redesigning a logo does not need to be a necessity if the spark and purpose is not well utilized. I again request designers not to design for the sake of designing but go deep into the reasoning. Do some homework and recognize the underlying principle of design.
5 Basic principles of Logo designing:
- Simple, Clear & Crisp – Logo design should be uncomplicated for the viewer and designer.
- Projection of company’s image should come across clearly & direct
- Balancing Act – Logo designing is balancing act of creativity. One should not go overboard with the usage of design elements : font, color and shape. The key is correct use of styling and balancing of all these elements to form a composition called ‘logo’
- Direct hit – Messaging should be direct either through graphics or text and should hit the viewers mind in one go.
- Black & White as winner – Colors play a very important role but a logo should not lose its sheen when converted in black and white. This is a common issue we all face as designers and prefer to ignore it.
Color vs Black and White
The last point of logo designing principle is indeed the foremost important territory for a designer to conquer. One should first conceptualize the logo in black and white and then move towards the color palette. I know it’s hard for the first timers but there is a reason why I propose so.
As designer when we first think about a logo, a visual image is formed in our minds and we try to create a replica of it through our design tools. In the process of creating this replica we start beautifying it with colors and at times miss on taking the visualized image to the next level of conceptualization. Design software are just a medium through which we execute our design skills but the core rests on expressing our creativity.
Monochrome designing is good. Use of single color while doodling helps our mind to concentrate on the concept created through shape and forms. Defining of positive and negative spaces is best done through white and black colors – the result is magical. The ancient Chinese feng shui icon defines its meaning best in black and white. The contrast not only lifts the unseen areas of the design but adds a new dimension to the graphical representation.
One can also start conceptualizing a design with paper and pencil (I personally avoid using pen since it does not give me the right kind of strokes and depth which pencil can give me. This depth in strokes let me add contrast to the shape and above all I can easily erase a wrong line), once you are able to get the right composition, you can move to next stage.
For certain clients monochrome logos work best to finalize a concept, while for others they prefer picking from the complete designed logos.
Why use Vector form of logo designing?
At times a designer in hurry creates a logo in Gimp or Photoshop not realizing what a big crime he is doing as a designer. If the client doesn’t turn back and ask you for the high resolution/vector format file, this method becomes a practice. We don’t realize but unknowingly we have made an impact on our design methodology, our fellow designers and above all on client. Sooner or later client (or printing firm at client end) realizes the issue with bitmap logo file and maybe you are not accessible. So they end up hiring a person with just computer skills and not a design degree holder to recreate the logo in scalable mode. Trust me a client who ended up feeling cheated might not come to you again.
From the place I stand, I see it as – Saving 5mins of time at the first stage, you ended up losing the faith and multiple life-long projects.
Logos should strictly be vector based to avoid any issues of scalability at the later stage, since logo of a company can be used as small as a thumb-pin head and big as for 12 feet long banner.
Vector based software – Adobe Illustrator, Freehand, Inkscape, Corel Draw and many more.
How to Fine-tune logo concept?
Refining of logo is the next stage after conceptualizing, where we need to pull out our tools and color palette. Make sure you have identified minimum two or maximum three concepts from your monochrome scribbles. Avoid picking more than three as it shows the fragile nature of designer’s mind. While picking the best three concepts, don’t forget to do a quick check with your 5 design principles.
Moving to refinement of the logo, this can either be done directly on computer or you can do it on a fresh sheet.
The tricky part here is choosing the right color palette for your logo. Jacab Cass has very well explained in his blog the usage of color in a logo.
Colors for logo designing:
Color wheel is the bible for all the designers. During our design school days we all studied about color wheel which consisted of primary, secondary and complimentary colors. Before applying the colors blindly on the logo, it would be a good idea to review those theories once again, just have them handy.
It would be an additional benefit if a designer understands the psychology of color and how the meaning of color changes from one part of the world to another. It might be surprising for some but the definition of shapes and colors change with the changing time zones.
Example Red color -
- Is considered color of wealth, celebrations and brings good fortune in China
- while in India it relates to purity, integrity and wedding
- expression of mourning in South Africa
- in western culture it relates to power (devil / high authority), danger, love (valentine) and aggressive nature
Combination of colors again change the meaning. Suppose if I add 40% white in 60% red, new tone of red color is formed, which is not as aggressive a color as red. The change in red and white color percentages would further give a palette of soft red, while combination of red and black color would again change the intensity & shade of red color.
The variations are infinite. As a designer we give an ambiance to the viewer and let him enjoy the experience. Through different shades of color in a logo we can project an image of a company – Sturdy, openness, its culture and so on.
Quick reference of color theory for designers has also been well prepared by paper leaf design studio.
Note: Designing a logo for any print media, should be created in CMYK mode. For website or any other form on online usage RGB works well.
During the conceptualizing phase other areas which are considered include font style and shapes.
Usage of Fonts:
At high level fonts are segregated into two segments – Serif and Sans-serif fonts.
Serif font – The word ‘serif’ in typography means a line attached to the end of main strokes in an alphabet. Since the early years of 1960 serif fonts in majority were used for print jobs (tabloids & magazines), best examples for serif font are Times New Roman, Georgia, MS Serif, Palatino.
Sans-Serif font - ‘Sans’ mean ‘without’ in French, the font style without serif is known as ‘Sans-serif’. Sans-serif fonts were mostly used for headlines as compared to body text. Examples of sans-serif fonts are Arial, Verdana, Tahoma, Impact, Calibri, Futura, Trebuchet.
The serifs in a font maneuver the reader’s eye to move into a direction – as a convention the large portions of pure text were preferred in serif typeface (Times New Roman) for print medium but with the changing technology and availability of reading content online the convention has been altered.
Just 3 years back serif fonts didn’t hold a place on internet, there was a complete division of boundaries for usage of fonts on offline and online designs.
For content heavy areas on web sans-serif fonts are used and with Web2.0 design styling serif fonts have been introduced to embellish the headlines. There is a reason for not applying serif fonts on content heavy areas – Serif fonts when displayed on heavy content areas in small sizes, the screen is not able to reproduce the stroke of serif font in pixels clearly which disturbs the user eye and impacts the user experience.
Once the font is identified for a logo or tag line, it can be supported with different shapes. Shapes complimenting typography is also an interesting way to create logos.
Fundamentally shapes are nothing but a form created with the use of different kind of lines.
Basic type of lines (4):
- Straight line – Horizontal, vertical or diagonal line
- Dotted line
- Curved line
- Zig-zag line
Each line style holds a meaning:
- A vertical line in a design showcases the strength and if made dotted it reflects the doubtfulness in strength.
- If a wave line is drawn with curves the sailing seems smooth while a wave with sharp edges means high and low flow in a graph.
- Horizontal objects when supported with a vertical line/object – the golden rule of design is achieved (objects are formed with composition of lines only)
These basic lines can be then used in most of the shape combination. Surprisingly the thickness and thinness of a line can also add value, strength and depth to an object.
Do colors and sizes go hand in hand ?
In a series to 15 pixel thick yellow colored bars, when a red color 5 pixel bar is drawn, trust me the user eye would be pulled towards that red color thin line. Here the intensity & contrast of color dominates the size and quantity of yellow bars. (refer below image)
Neither the change in shape nor the change in placement made any difference to avoid attracting viewer’s eye towards red color (refer below image)
Magic of lines into shape
The combination of lines are unlimited and when few lines are combined together they form a shape. Just a play of few lines can add dimension to a shape from 2-d to 3-d formation.
In the below image I have combined three lines which take the shape of a triangle and then I added 2 more lines – resulting into a 3-dimensional triangle.
Evolution of logos
A logo is just a balanced composition of design elements customized as per your concepts requirements, covering 5 basic principles of logo designing. Redesigning a logo is an evolving process – result into maturity, improvement and boost to the brand. Each stage of evolution should be an advanced stage of the previous.
I have added few samples in this post showing the evolution of few brands over the years (Courtesy: Design Storm)
Tip: Keep client in loop during all stages of logo designing. Starting from concept stage till execution stage, client’s feedback & nod are very important for a designer. As a designer we need to make client feel important, he should feel he is an important contributor in the designing process and then you would be able to drive him in your direction.
While delivering the final logo to client, provide him a set of CMYK, RGB and Grayscale converted logo files. A small guideline document attached along with would buy you lots of appreciation from the client.
The rule of this game is – enjoy the freedom of creativity.
So while executing your concept in the logo just play around with shapes, fonts, spaces. With a bit of practice and understanding, its easy!
PS – I’m working on a case study which will illustrate different stages of logo conceptualization. Keep watching this space for the new post:-)