6 Things to Avoid When Designing a Logo

[Enter the HOW Logo Design Awards]


We teamed up with the brilliant minds at LogoLounge to provide our readers with an extensive look into this year’s logo design trends and insights in the latest issue of HOW magazine. LogoLounge’s Bill Gardner and an esteemed panel of judges pored through 40,000 logos collectively to select the cream of the crop in logo design from around the world. This year’s judges were:

Aaron Draplin, Draplin Design Co.
Von Glitschka, Glitschka Studios
Su Mathews Hale, Lippincott
Andreas Karl, Karl Design
Chad Michael, Chad Michael Studio

Emily Oberman, Pentagram
Yo Santosa, Ferroconcrete
Felix Sockwell
Alex Tass
Alex Trochut

Naturally, the submissions included some designs that simply didn’t work. Here, the judges offer insights on what not to do when designing a logo.

image from Getty – CSA Images

6 Things to Avoid When Designing a Logo

Display Type

“The solution to a logo design should never be simply setting a display face,” Chad Michael advises. “Your clients deserve more than this, and you’ve missed an opportunity to solve the problem in a more conceptual way.”

Unscalable Logo Designs

“I tend to gravitate toward things that’ll scale well later on,” says Aaron Draplin. “So, to see things with complexity and sharp, tiny, complicated little details that’ll get lost in a Twitter avatar, well, it just sort of shows that folks aren’t considering where we’ll be seeing these things 99 out of 100 times—on a phone app or Instagram avatar! Things need to work small in the smartphone era, so I’m always looking for simplicity, a quick read, legibility and whether or not the thing will work in 20-by-20 pixels, or on the side of a van!”

Multicolored, 3D Logos

“Each year I see more and more of these,” Andreas Karl says. “Some were created by hand in 2D in order to look like 3D objects, while some have been generated by a 3D computer program (I guess). I think these kinds of logos will not prevail, because they are diffi cult to reproduce in black and white, and more important, hard to remember.”

Too Much, Too Little

“Trying to pack too many ideas into the design and using type that’s way too small to read” can be a big problem, Su Mathews Hale points out. “If it’s too small to read, it’s not worth having it there.”

[Discover 15 emerging logo design trends]

Designing a Logo with Stock Images

“I feel designers and even the average person can spot a stock image—Frankenstein logo creation—a mile away… It feels like cheating,” Michael adds. “A good rule of thumb is if you didn’t create it or are not manipulating it, then don’t use it.”

Just Plain Ugly

“Every industry has the good, the bad and the ugly,” Von Glitschka says. “When it comes to logo design, what is bad isn’t always an aesthetic issue. It usually reflects a lack of concept or playing off a low-hanging fruit of an idea, and is thus forgettable. Ugly is just that: poorly designed and thus aesthetically challenged. Didn’t see a ton of those, but every so often you’d run into something that bruised your rods and cones.”


[Online Course: Logo Design Basics]

3 thoughts on “6 Things to Avoid When Designing a Logo

  1. bobish

    Trendy today…gone tomorrow. In an age where some logos lack the individual image personality to separate themselves from the competition, I find following logo trends to be a terrible way of dating the logo. Face it, an organization’s investment in a logo could cost a good bit of change…but compared to the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in logo/brand application (in print and web), a logo based on trend will lose its impact as soon as the trend is no longer trendy. The logo is the organization’s signature. When it starts to graphically replicate others, then it looses a primary image attribute visually identified within its core identity. And becomes a forgery.

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