Rochelle Weiner Carr - 09/17/2010 - Branding & Design / Creative Process / Marketing Strategy

After all the years I've been working as a graphic designer, I see clients making the same mistakes over and over when developing a logo for their company. Let me name a few of the big ones:

  1. Including "Inc" or "LLC" or ".com" in the logo design. Have a look at Coca-Cola. Do they have "Inc" in the logo design? They don't because it doesn't belong there. Inc is part of the legal name of your company to be used in contracts etc. Including it in the logo design is not necessary. Leave it off and look more professional. With logos, simpler is always better.
  2. Designing your logo yourself. Even if you do have a talent for drawing there is a lot more that goes into logo design than just being able to draw. The audience, the message, the intent, trends, fonts, versatility, usability, different formats, color palette for print vs web, the list goes on and on. The most important thing to learn as a new business owner is to know when to job things out. Save your time and creative energy for what you do best and let a professional design your logo.
  3. The company name is too long and complicated. When you are trying to come up with a name for your new company, keep in mind that the shorter the name the better. It will be more memorable and it also will make for a more distinctive logo. Is it called McDonald's or is it called McDonald's Fast Food Restaurant? Save the descriptives for your tagline and choose a name that invokes a feeling and an image.
  4. Trying to make your logo into a brochure. Not everything needs to be said in the logo, just your most important point. Your logo needs to be simple, distinctive and memorable. It needs to work as well at 1 inch tall as it does at 1 foot as it does the size of a billboard. Too much detail and your message is lost. Keep it concise.
  5. No focus. As a designer I value input from my client to help me to understand their business, their likes and dislikes, and especially what distinguishes their company from others. This kind of information helps me to come to a stand out logo design that really defines the company. If you as the client can't tell me these basic things then you need to do some serious thinking. You need to define these things for yourself before hiring a designer. If your message is unclear even to you then the designer will have no chance of creating a strong and clear message for your logo.
  6. Photo in the logo. A good logo is simple and easily replicated in all mediums. Look around, can you think of one corporate logo which includes a photo? There aren't any because a photo is not practical in a logo. Of all of your marketing collateral, your logo needs to be the most versatile. It needs to work as well at 1" tall as it does 10'. It needs to work in black and white as well as it does in color. You need to be able to use it on a business card as well as embroider it on a cap. A photo is just not going to work in every instance. Versatility is essential.

There are lots of ways to go wrong with a logo. You know a good logo when you see it because it makes an impression. If you don't feel confident about your logo, chances are there is room for improvement. Don't fret, anything can be fixed.

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