Why is a logo so important to your brand? Should you be drawing inspiration from current trends when it comes to your logo design? Is a complex design better or should you keep it simple?
In this podcast episode, Sam Carvalho talks about 9 common logo mistakes and to avoid.
In This Podcast
- The importance of a logo to a brand
- An example of a bad logo design
- 9 common logo design mistakes
The importance of a logo to a brand
Potential customers should understand your company and its personality at first glance. Your logo design is an investment in your business and into your branding. You don’t want to keep people guessing, you want them to know exactly what you’re about by looking at your logo. A good logo design will set you up for success.
Example of a bad logo design
Gap made the mistake of trying to redesign their very well-known brand. They received major backlash from their customers and the public in general. People were even requesting to have the old original logo come back and Gap did it, they brought it back and actually apologized and realized that they’d made a huge mistake. This goes to show the importance of a logo and how people can become so associated with that logo, loyal to your brand, and really begin to associate your company with that logo.
9 common logo design mistakes
1. Relying too much on trends
A company’s logo is its identity symbol needs to be timeless. You can draw inspiration from trends but don’t base it on a trend, otherwise, it will become dated or seen as cliché in a few years. This is your visual identity and you don’t want to have to rebrand, ever.
2. Visual clichés
Visual clichés can work because the brain can make the connection a lot quicker but try to use these visual clichés in a unique and creative way.
3. Inappropriate use of typefaces
The use of too many typefaces in a single logotype needs to be avoided. Each typeface has a personality, and it needs to reflect the icon’s characteristics and coincide with the message of the brand. Try to stick with one to two typefaces in a logo design and make sure that it’s legible.
4. Poor color selection
Colors should not be chosen at random or based on personal preference. Understanding the psychology behind colors is important. You need to pick colors that resonate with the personality and core message of the brand. Adding color should be the last decision you make when designing a logo. First check if the logo looks good in black, white, and grayscale and then add color.
5. Don’t rely on special effects
If a logo requires special effects or color to make it a strong logo then it’s not a strong logo. By working in black and white first, you’re able to focus on the shape and concept rather than the special effects. Don’t use drop shadows, embossing, or other styles. A good logo will stand on its own.
6. Use of raster images
Raster images are made of pixels and cannot be scaled. You must use vector graphics that can be scaled to any size. A well-designed logo is always versatile and looks great when reduced to stamp size or enlarged to banner size, without compromising the quality.
7. Creating a complex design
Simplicity results in versatility, memorability, and impact and those are three really good results that you want for your brand.
Less is more. The very purpose of your logo gets defeated if it’s complex and your audience has to struggle to understand the meaning behind it. All the established brands like Apple, MacDonald’s, Nike, FedEx, all have very simple, memorable logos.
Make sure that you’re not copying anyone else’s logo or branding.
9. Unclear intention
The visual style gives viewers an understanding of your company’s values, purpose, and the emotional link to the product. Customers will connect your logo to the company’s essential purpose so you need to make sure these match up well. Take a moment to reflect on the visual identity you’re trying to create for your company. What are you trying to communicate through your logo? What is your brand personality? Who is your target audience? The things are just as important as the visual elements when it comes to creating your logo.
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Meet Sam Carvalho
Sam Carvalho is a graphic designer living in Cape Town, South Africa, with over five years of experience in both design and marketing, with a special interest and experience in the start-up environment.
She has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs take their practices to the next level by enhancing their visual branding. She loves working with a variety of clients on design-intensive tasks and is always up for a challenge!
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Welcome to the Marketing a Practice podcast with me, Sam Carvalho, where you will discover everything you need to know about marketing and branding your business. To find out more about how I can help you brand your business, visit www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram @samanthacarvalhodesign.
Hi there. Thanks so much for taking the time to join me today on the Marketing a Practice podcast. I’m so glad you’re here and I hope that you will find today’s episode valuable. So, having discussed website design mistakes in a previous episode, and if you haven’t listened to that, then definitely go give it a listen after this or when you get a chance, I thought that today I would go through some logo design mistakes. So, I don’t know if I need to discuss the importance of a logo to a brand. Obviously, it’s the starting point when it comes to doing any sort of design for your brand. It’s what you would start with and you would then kind of move on to your brand style guide and your website and your business card and kind of all your other marketing material. But first and foremost, you want to start with your logo and it really is such an investment into your business and into your branding and just kind of setting yourself up for success. And I wanted to start with the story of Gap. I’m not sure how many of you know this, but Gap clothing, if you get a chance to, Google their logo mistake that they made a few years ago, which was to try a rebrand from a logo that was so well known. It was basically, it basically consisted of the name in a serif white font on a blue square. And they changed that to a sans serif font, black, the previous one was capitalized, this one wasn’t. And it kind of had this small blue gradient square kind of appearing behind the P. And they actually received such backlash from their customers and just the public in general. And people were even requesting to have the old original logo come back and they did, they brought it back and actually apologized and realized that they’d made a huge mistake. So, that just goes to show the importance of a logo and how people can become so associated with that logo, and how people can become so loyal to your brand and really begin to associate your company with seeing that logo. So, you really want to make sure that when potential customers look at your logo, that they’re able to understand your company and your personality at first glance. So, you don’t want to keep them guessing you want them to know exactly what you’re about by looking at your logo. So, that’s just a bit about the importance of the logo and really why you want to make sure that you do it right the first time.
But here are nine logo mistakes, logo design mistakes, that I think it’ll be good for you to know, kind of from the get-go. So, if you’re still in the process of designing a logo, you can obviously make sure that these don’t happen. And if you already have a logo designed, kind of just reflecting on that design and making sure that it’s the best that it can be.
So, the first thing you want to avoid is relying too much on trends. So, I know a lot of clients will get in touch with me and they’ll send some ideas of logos that they like. And the designs will maybe all be based on a certain trend, a certain design trend. And I’d really advise against this. So, you obviously want to make your logo as timeless as possible. This is gonna be your identity symbol, what your visual identity of your brand is based on. And so, you really want to make sure that it lasts as long as possible, and that you don’t even have to do a rebrand ever. So, I would say that whoever’s designing your logo can definitely draw inspiration from trends and you yourself can draw inspiration from trends when you are explaining to than what it is you’d like. But your entire design should not be based on trends as it will soon become dated or seen as a cliché in a few years. So, that’s something you want to try and avoid.
The second logo design mistake is making use of visual clichés. So again, this is something where I’ve found private practice owners to fall into quite a lot. You have the tendency of wanting to make use of hearts or trees or, you know, any sort of icons or illustrations that portray a sense of calm or connectedness. And there’s nothing wrong with making use of those icons or illustrations, because as I said earlier, you want people to know what you’re about within a few seconds of looking at your logo. So, in a way, making use of visual clichés is not the worst idea because their brain will obviously make that connection a lot faster than if it’s something a bit more complex. But having said that, make sure that whoever’s designing your logo, makes use of those visual clichés, but in a creative, unique way. So, you know what I’m talking about, you’ve probably seen, you know, a similar sort of tree design a million times when it comes to counseling logos, or you’ve seen, there’s that human figure, you know, kind of with the arms up showing, you know, like, celebration or growth, that’s also quite a common one. So, you know, using light bulbs for ideas or speech bubbles for discussion. There’s nothing wrong with making use of those icons but really try and use them in a creative, unique way. And really trust your designer when they are kind of showing you how you can make use of these icons in a new way. So, I find that you know, sometimes I get a bit of pushback, and kind of want the clichéd way of portraying that icon. Even if I’ve tried to show them an alternative way, because I guess it’s what they’re used to, it’s what they’re familiar with. But really try and trust your design in that sense as well and kind of, you know, come out of your comfort zone a bit and realize that they are the expert in that area. Obviously to a point, you still need to be happy with your logo, so it kind of, you need to meet in the middle. But yeah, that’s the second logo design mistake that I would try and avoid.
The third one is the inappropriate use of typefaces. So, this is to do with the fonts that you’re using in your logo design. And a lot of times, clients will want maybe three or four fonts in their logo design, and they’ll think that, you know, the mixture of the different fonts adds that extra element of detail and makes it look great. But really, you actually want to only stick with one or two typefaces in a logo design, because too many typefaces, it just kind of makes it too complex. But really, you want to stick with only one or two typefaces in a logo design. So, you need to bear in mind that each typeface has a personality of its own. And I’ve spoken about this in previous episodes, but you’ve got your Serif fonts, which include little strokes at the end of each section of the letter. And then you’ve got your Sans Serif fonts, which are more kind of your modern fonts, which don’t have those little strokes at the end. And each of those evokes a certain personality or is associated with a certain personality. So, if you have too many of them within too many different types of fonts within one logo design, it’s very confusing as to what that logo is portraying. So, you want to make sure that the fonts you choose in your logo, reflect your icon’s characteristics as well. So, whatever you’ve used as your icon or your illustration, needs to kind of match the font as well. So, if you’ve gone with, you know more of a corporate look and you’re making use of a corporate styled icon or illustration, then a serif font would match that because that’s more corporate and more formal. But if you’re going with, you know, an illustration, that’s a bit flowier, you could make use of the Script font because that matches that. And you really want to make sure that your fonts coincide with the message of your brand and also make sure that it’s legible. So those are just some things to consider when it comes to the typefaces used in your logo design.
The fourth logo design mistake has to do with color. So, I actually did an episode on this right before this one, and that was on color theory. And again, if you haven’t had a chance to listen to that yet, definitely go and listen, and it’s all about the theory of color. But also, you know, what to consider when choosing the color scheme for your branding and actually how important it is to put some thought and consideration into that and not just, you know, choose colors that you like, or that everybody else is choosing. So, the same applies for your logo, you really want to make sure that you’re not just choosing random colors or colors based on personal preference, but that you’re understanding the psychology behind those colors. And as psychologists and therapists, most of you will know more or less the meaning behind colors. And so, you want to pick colors that resonate with the personality and the core message of your brand. And something to bear in mind as well when it comes to designing a logo. And this is more something that your designer will keep in mind, but you actually want to first design a logo in all black, you actually want to add color at the end of your logo design. And that’s to ensure that you’re not basing your logo design on the colors, but that you’re first focusing on the actual design itself, and the colors are an afterthought, they’re an addition that you add at the end. Because also, it’s important to be able to have variations of your logo in all white or in all black that you can use on marketing material where your colors won’t necessarily match or won’t necessarily be seen. So, that’s something just to keep in mind as well and just to kind of make sure that your designer is aware of.
So, so far, we’ve covered making sure that your logo doesn’t rely too much on trends, ensuring that you don’t include too many visual clichés, not making use of too many different typefaces or fonts, and putting a decent amount of consideration into the colors used in your logo.
The fifth logo design mistake to avoid is similar to that of the color, and that is to not rely on special effects. So, some designers might want to make use of things like drop shadows, or embossing or other styles that are available within design programs. And that’s something that you want to avoid. You’ll see if you go onto my Instagram, or my online portfolio, that I generally make use of just flat designs, I usually prefer that as opposed to any kind of elevated or 3D designs. To me, a flat design logo is the most impactful. So, that’s pretty much what I stick with. Not to say that you can’t have a 3D logo or anything like that, but you don’t want to rely too much on special effects to make your logo a strong logo. It needs to actually be a strong logo, you know, without needing effects. So again, by working just in black first, you’re able to focus on the shape and concept rather than the special effects. So that’s again, just something that the designer will more keep in mind but something that you can kind of hold him accountable to.
The sixth logo design mistake, and I actually have come across one or two logos like this, is to not include raster images. So again, this is something I’ve covered in previous episodes, the difference between raster images and vector graphics. And basically, raster images are made up of pixels and cannot be scaled. So, this is your typical photograph, you’ll see that if you’re trying to scale photograph beyond what it was originally meant to be scale to, it will begin to pixelate or look blurry and the quality will be compromised. Whereas the vector graphic is usually your illustrations and your logos and things like that. Those you can literally scale to any proportion, and you can bring them right down as well. So, you need to bear in mind the different uses that you may have for your logo in the future. You may want to print it on the pocket of a T-shirt, and in that case, it needs to be scaled right down, but you still need to be able to make out all of the details. Or, it’s going to be scaled to the point of appearing on a billboard or on signage, and in that case, it needs to be clear and the quality needs to remain the same. So, never, never, never make use of raster images in a logo, always use vector graphics and ensure that your logo is versatile and that it’s, the quality stays the same no matter what size it is scale to.
The seventh logo design mistake is creating too complex a design. So, I mentioned this earlier with using too many typefaces in a logo design, and this kind of coincides with that. And you know the age-old saying of less is more and this applies to logo design as well. So, the very purpose of your logo gets defeated if it’s too complex. And if your audience has to struggle to understand the meaning behind it. And I always go by the saying that I heard at some stage and that was that your design is not perfect until no further element of it can be removed. So, a lot of times, I will do a logo design and then I’ll look at it and I’ll realize that, you know, I’ve gone overboard or I’ve added too many details. And then I will literally sit and remove details that I’ve added. So, it’s almost like stripping it down to the point where I can’t remove anything else and I can’t, I don’t feel like anything else needs to be added. And then I know that I’ve reached my final logo design. So, if you think about all these established brands out there, brands like Apple, McDonald’s, Nike, FedEx, what is something that they all have in common? They all have very simple, memorable logos. So, Apple, for example, is literally just an apple with a bite taken out of it and a leaf and that’s it. And it’s probably one of the most memorable logos out there. So, that’s kind of always a benchmark to use when creating your logo when thinking about the kind of logo you want, is you really want to keep it as simple as possible. Because simplicity results in versatility, memorability, and impact and those are three really good results that you want for your brand. So, you really need to boil it down to what the essence of your brand represents, and that is what your logo design should be based on.
The second last logo design mistake to avoid has to do with plagiarism. So, I don’t feel like I need to go into this too much but obviously you don’t want to be copying any of the brands out there, or any other counseling practices, and you want to make sure that your design isn’t copying. I always say that if people can send me three or so logos that they like they can, they must do so and they can state what it is about those logos that they like. And that’s not for me to copy the logos, but for me to understand what sort of style they’re into. And then I can make use of that knowledge in creating a unique design. So, really making sure that you’re not copying anybody else’s logo or branding.
And finally, the last logo design mistake is to do with unclear intention. And this is when, I think, getting a professional designer to help you design your logo will really help with this. Because, most people designers, and this is what you’ve heard from the designers that I’ve interviewed on the show as well, is that the first thing they’ll have you do is kind of outline the core values of your brand, the, you know, mission and vision of your brand, the target audience of your brand, all kind of the theory behind your brand before even getting to the visual stuff. And so, I do the same, I will send you a list of questions that have to do with visual things as well. So, you know, I’ll ask you, “Do you want an icon or illustration included? What sort of fonts do you like? What color scheme?” Things like that, but then I’ll also ask you, “What are you trying to communicate through your logo? What is your brand personality? Who is your target audience?” Because those things are just as important as the visual elements when it comes to creating your logo. So, the visual style gives viewers an understanding of your company’s values, purpose, and emotional link to the product. Customers will connect your logo to the company’s essential purpose, so you need to make sure that these match up well. So, take a moment even now to reflect on the visual identity you’re trying to create for your company. What do you want your logo to get across? For those of you who have a logo, is that being effectively communicated? What do you want people to feel when they look at your logo? So, really consider these things and really think about whether your logo is communicating what you want it to. And if not, maybe go back to your designer and ask them to adjust your logo so that it is more effective in communicating what you want it to.
So, just to go over the nine logo design mistakes that I’ve mentioned in this episode, and they will be available in the show notes as well. But it’s first to not rely on current trends, make sure that your logo design is timeless; to not include visual clichés and, if you are going to, make sure that they are uniquely represented; to not make use of too many different font styles, maximum one or two; to put thought and consideration into the colors used in your logo; to not rely on special effects; to not use raster images but only vector graphics; to create as simple a design as possible because simplicity results in versatility, memorability, and impact; to not copy others, and to ensure that your logo design portrays a clear intention.
So, I hope this has been helpful and valuable. And, as always, if you need help designing your logo I’m always available. Otherwise, I hope that this has helped you reflect on your own logo design and ensuring that it effectively communicates your brand ethos. Enjoy the rest of your day and I’ll see you in the next episode.
Thanks for listening to the Marketing a Practice podcast. If you need help with branding your business, whether it be a new logo, rebrand, or you simply want to have a print file designed, head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding. And if you’d like to see some examples of my design work, be sure to follow me on Instagram @samanthacarvalhodesign.
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