It’s a known fact, your logo is important. It’s the face of your company. It’s a big part of what drives brand awareness, and can even dictate aspects of your company’s culture. Without critical thinking involved, your logo is doomed to be nothing more than a shape and some letters. We’re here to help identify some common logo design issues, and provide suggestions on how to avoid or resolve them.
Common logo design issues
1. Inaccurate colors
Choosing the right colors for your brand involves more than just deciding on how it looks. There are different ways to process colors depending on their intended use. We have color coding systems for this – there’s RGB, CMYK, and Spot colors. If your logo file doesn’t have the right color code for what you need, you may not like the result. For example, CMYK files are perfect for print, but typically don’t look good on screens. A good logo designer will always give you the right color codes for your intended use, and help you troubleshoot if things go wrong.
Whatever your brand’s color codes are, make sure you have them all saved somewhere for easy access. Reference them often, and make sure you direct others to do the same (vendors and employees alike). It’s important to keep your colors consistent, and that’s exactly what color codes are designed to do.
It’s possible to use the wrong effect on your logo colors as well. If your designer makes a color more transparent to lighten it instead of actually choosing a lighter color, you may get undesired results when you place your logo on top of another image or color. Using white in areas meant to be transparent can cause unexpected problems too! It’s sometimes difficult to tell if a file is really transparent. Often, you don’t know until it’s too late. If your logo files are labeled as transparent, double check to make sure they really are. Try to drop the transparent file on top of another image in whatever editing software you have access to. If you have white areas where you’re not expecting to, you need a designer to go in and correct it.
2. Low-res logo files
There are few things more frustrating than low-resolution images. If your logo looks good when it’s small, but starts losing detail at larger sizes, you’re in trouble. If you’re using JPEG and PNG (“raster image”) files to print with, they need to be at least 300dpi (dots per inch) resolution at print size in order to maintain their sharpness.
A proper logo delivery package will have all sizes of files, including the most scalable version available – a vector file. Vector files typically have one of three extensions – .PDF, .AI, or .EPS.
It’s possible for a file to have a vector image extensions, but not actually be a vector. This is quite a stumbling block to printers and designers, since a client may think they have a good vector copy, but they really just have a file full of lies. And there’s no way for the client to know this until someone with a program that can open such a file finally lets them know. By that point, time and resources have been wasted.
Having a professional check out your files, no matter who designs them, is a good idea. Do this long before you have to go to production with anything.
3. Misaligned logo design elements
One of the factors that separates the professionals from the amateurs is the use of “the grid.” When designers use a grid or guidelines to line things up in a design, the logo will look more balanced. This often involves tiny, tedious edits. A real pro will use “benchmark” objects to make sure there’s a consistent rule for proportions. This is tough to spot if you’re not a creative person, but it just “feels right.”
Here’s an example from a project we recently completed. Notice how there’s a point of reference for the “Realtor” text. There’s also equal spacing between the icon, the name, and the second line. Attention to these details brings the logo to another level of quality, one that is easy to overlook if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Along with having good balance and proportions, you want your logo to be pixel perfect. Even a small overlap of objects, if unintended, can ruin the logo. We’ll use Christin’s logo as an example again. We’ve replicated a common mistake in this screenshot for demonstration purposes. Notice how the color slips outside the black outline. If it’s not part of the design, that makes it a pretty big error. Seasoned designers know to zoom way, WAY in to avoid these kinds of slip ups.
4. Logo doesn’t work for your company
This issue is fundamental, and more difficult to fix than the others we’ve talked about. It’s also more complicated to diagnose.
What doesn’t work?
The fonts your brand uses play a big role in determining your brand personality. Is your tone playful or serious? Are you traditional, or more contemporary? If your typography doesn’t jive with what you’re selling, you’re creating a disconnect that can push people away.
Too similar to competition
There’s no way for you to stand out if you look the same as everyone else. This just goes without saying, but we’re gonna say it. Don’t buy into a logo that looks just like every other logo.
Doesn’t fit your industry
Imagine your company is called Brad’s Shoes, and you sell… you guessed it… shoes. If your logo is a drawing of a rubber duck and the initials “BS,” NOBODY is going to make the connection. Effective logos strike a balance between being unique and looking like they belong.
Just because you love your logo, doesn’t mean it’s right for your company or the customers you’re trying to attract. This is one of the big reasons brands change logos, and it’s a very valid reason. The whole point of your brand is to represent yourself in the most ideal way to your most ideal customers. If it’s not accomplishing that, it’s time for a change.
A lot goes on behind the curtain of a logo design process. There’s a TON of common logo design issues to watch out for, and it takes years of experience to predict and prevent them all. Our goal is to help you start evaluating logo designs with this lens, so that you can get the best branding possible no matter who you hire.
Want us to take a look at your logo? Get in touch. We want to help.