7 major mistakes designers make with modern logos

Whether you’re creating a new identity for a company that wants to refresh their brand image or building a graphic for a startup just about to hit the market, logos can be an important part of any designer’s portfolio.

These simple combinations of shapes and fonts might not seem like much on the surface, but they’re the things your client will use to connect with their audience and generate sales in the years to come. Just imagine what Target would be without its bulls-eye, or Disney without Mickey Mouse!

If you want happy, satisfied customers, then you need to learn how to leverage the logo. Unfortunately, mistakes are easy to come by. From relying too heavily on colour to obsessing over current trends, here are just some of the major mistakes designers still make with modern logos.

Mistake 1: Focusing too much on current trends

As a designer, your skills will need to evolve constantly to suit the needs of a changing market. Staying ahead of current trends is a great way to make sure that you’re developing cutting-edge glyphs for your customers. However, there’s a difference between knowing your industry, and constantly jumping onto the latest bandwagon.

If you’re bringing new trends into designs regardless of whether they fit with a brand’s image and personality, then you’re going to struggle. Be aware of what’s going on around you, but don’t let exciting new ideas cloud your judgment.

Mistake 2: You’re “so” cliché

While it’s important not to get caught up in today’s ever-changing design trends, that doesn’t mean you should stick to the same tried-and-tested concepts all the time. Any creative expert in the modern world knows that they need to think outside of the box if they want to deliver something amazing for their client. After all, there are millions of logos out there, so it’s going to take something special to make your design stand out.

For instance, while using a lightbulb for a forward-thinking company might seem like an intuitive choice, it’s also pretty obvious. Take some time to brainstorm images that are outside of the norm. if you can’t get your head out of the cliché cloud, look for ways that you can transform an overdone concept into something new.

Mistake 3: Making the logo too complicated

Simplicity is beautiful. In fact, it’s often the key to creating a logo that’s timeless enough to last a lifetime. Though our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text, the glyph you create for your client still needs to be simple enough that it can convey a complex idea within a matter of seconds.

Though it’s tempting to add a range of unique details and elements to a logo to make it more informative, remember that you’re not painting a masterpiece, you’re looking for a way to highlight what makes your client unique in the most efficient way possible.

Brands like Apple, Nike, and Mastercard are all great examples of how a clean and clear logo can make a huge impact. Avoid the clutter and narrow your design down to only the most essential elements.

Mistake 4: Relying too heavily on colour

Colour can be crucial to building a great brand identity. In fact, 33% of the top 100 companies in the world use a shade of blue to demonstrate trust and security in their brand. Unfortunately, as a designer, if you get too caught up in colours, then you’ll end up with a creation that only works for your client sometimes.

Remember, logos don’t just appear on websites and mobile apps. They’re also printed out onto business cards, letterheads and press releases too. You can’t always know for certain whether the design you create is going to be seen in technicolour, or black and white, so it’s best to avoid an over-reliance on pigment.

Design in black and white first, then look to add different hues into the mix as part of your finishing touches. Look at Coca-Cola for instance, their typography-based logo is recognisable no matter what colour it comes in.

Mistake 5: Manic font choice

Speaking of the “type” in your logo, it’s important to get the font right for your client. Regardless of whether you’re using the company name as the focus of your logo, or you’re adding a font to the bottom of a brand glyph, it’s important to choose something that represents the nature and personality of the business you’re working with.

A retro script pairs perfectly with a vintage logo to create a look that works for the modern hipster trend – but it wouldn’t be as effective for a new technology company. Think about the kind of image your client wants to create, and how you can add to that with your font choices. For instance, the simple sans-serif font used by the Innocent brand conveys the friendly, straight-forward nature of the company.

Make sure you don’t try to combine multiple fonts either. Too many styles in a single mark will turn your design into a jumbled mess.

Mistake 6: Forgetting the secret of scale

Back when designer jobs were less digitally-focused, intricate logos carved into shop signs or printed on business cards were an attractive way to grab someone’s attention. However, today’s logos exist in a different world, marked by multiple shapes and sizes of screens. The image you create needs to work just as well on a billboard, as it does in a tiny app icon, and many companies are adapting to suit tech trends.

For instance, you may have noticed that the Starbucks logo we have today is much simpler than the one the business began with way back in 1971. The company got rid of unnecessary details over the years to create a logo that’s cleaner, more modern, and demands fewer pixels.

Today’s logos need to scale down to almost nothing, and still be legible. Clarity at scale has become critical. To test whether your design will work anywhere, print it out on a sheet of paper no bigger than 1inch in diameter then get rid of anything that’s cluttering up the space.

Mistake 7: Needing to love every logo

Finally, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to love everything you create. Designers are passionate people, which means it’s hard for them to let go of a project when there’s something on it they would rather have done differently. While you should be proud of everything you create for your clients, remember that it’s your job to follow their instructions, so you’re going to have to compromise at times.

Ultimately, every designer hits a point where they need to remember that their logo isn’t for them – it’s for their client, and that client’s customers. You might not want to hang your latest creation on your living room wall, but if it identifies your patron effectively, helps them to attract new business, and supports their identity, then your logo is a success.