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Winning Logo Designs: Fact and Fiction

Every company needs a great logo for branded marketing purposes; however, many companies underestimate the importance of a well-designed logo and try to design it on the cheap. Even if they know that logos are the cornerstone of branding, they rationalize that they'll pay for great design later. What they don't realize is how difficult it is to successfully change a recognized logo once they've started turning a profit, or how keeping a woefully bad logo restricts them from ever truly reaching their sales potential. What's worse is that even many designers don't understand what goes into a good logo.

To clear up any ambiguity, here's rundown of winning logo design: fact and fiction.

Understanding logo design

What's worse is that even many professional designers don't understand what goes into a good logo. To clear up any ambiguity, here's rundown of winning logo design: fact and fiction.

Fiction: Visually complex logos attract attention.

Fact: Logos are an opportunity to show off your aptitude as a designer, but complex logo designs are a detriment to branding efforts. Smart designers know this, which is why the best logos are always comprised of very simple shapes. Remember that logos are used on business cards as well as billboards, and must be easily recognizable at small sizes.

Fiction: The more colors incorporated, the more the logo will stand out.

Fact: Logos should be one or two colors and never more than four. Colors should be solid and distinct so that logos look great in color and black and white. Choose colors that are indicative of your client's business - what feelings are they trying to convey? Bright colors exude jubilation, while deep robust hues are the hallmarks of business strength and foundation.

Fiction: Logos should include a company tagline.

Fact: In most cases, logos do not need to include a tagline. The logo is about the company image, and, more specifically, it is about meeting customer expectations through that image. Taglines can always be placed underneath the logo on marketing materials, but the logo itself should hold its own as a stand-alone image.

Fiction: Special effects really make logos shine.

Fact: Skip the effects. They can make logos difficult to recognize.

Fiction: Logos must include the company name.

Fact: Logos can include the company name, but they don't have to. Some logos are just the company name created in a unique typeset (e.g., IBM). Others do not include the company name at all (e.g., Apple computer logo). In some cases, both the logo and the company name should be designed so that they can be used apart and together seamlessly (e.g., Nike logo).

Fiction: Logos can be designed in most image editing programs.

Fact: Use a top-of-the-line program such as Adobe Illustrator to create your logos. Remember that they must be scalable, and therefore should be created as a vector file (one based on mathematical equations rather than pixels) so that they retain their clarity at any size.

Many of these winning logo design tips might seem like common knowledge, but you'd be surprised to know how many professional designers make these types of mistakes in their logo designs. Knowing what constitutes a great logo is key in a successful multi-level branding effort.