What are the aspects of a poorly-designed logo?
When learning how to do a job correctly, it can occasionally be beneficial to learn how not to as well. This sentiment applies to logo design.
Avoiding pitfalls is, if anything, more important than doing a good job.
An average logo is not necessarily memorable, but one that has been badly-conceived can damage your reputation. What then are the aspects of a poorly-designed logo that can be identified and avoided?
When dealing with bad logo conception, you’re discussing aspects that would persuade an average person to dislike it – and not a tiny detail unlikely to be detected by anyone who isn’t an expert graphic designer.
With that in mind, nothing stands out like a dated logo.
Although often confused, dated is different to retro.
Retro is a stylistic choice designed to evoke nostalgia, while dated refers to when a logo hasn’t been refreshed in a while and it shows.
Usage of clip art may have been futuristic and cool in the early 1990s, but now it looks amateurish. In theory, avoiding this is simple; the solution is to review your logo periodically, and critically ask whether it needs updating.
Logos don’t all age at the same rate, and a good one can last for a long time.
So, with the right design team, this should not be an issue.
Another aspect of a badly-designed logo is when it is vague.
This is a less common issue, but it can be noticeable.
Everyone has, at some point, seen a logo that consists of a name and a fancy design but with no hint of what the company actually does.
If a logo is the story of your brand summed up in a picture, then a vague one is a tale without a first page.
It risks sewing confusion, and can limit the exposure your logo generates if people don’t know what to associate you with.
This can be easily avoided by simply adding a description to your brand.
This may sound overly simplistic, but it probably works.
Just a few short words such as ‘tonic water’, or ‘medical services’, added to the bottom of a logo instantly and efficiently states exactly what you do and removes any possible vagueness.
Your logo is the banner for your brand; you use it as a visual shorthand of who you are, and what you do.
If your brand is all about wilderness exploration and survival, then a logo featuring a tent and nature may be appropriate.
What would be confusing for such a company would be a picture of a man with a flamethrower fending off a bear.
Technically it’s covering the same basic premise of wilderness and survival, but the logo theme is radically different to what your brand actually does and wants to say about itself.
The solution to this pitfall in logo design is to ensure your branding goals are aligned with your art direction.
Using themes and imagery that your target market is familiar with is the best way to ensure that your message is effectively conveyed in a manner that isn’t jarring.
To clarify, detail in a logo is by no means a negative.
Indeed, detailed logos can help your brand stand out from the crowd.
The problem in this instance is that they scale poorly when your logo has to be small.
What looks eye-catching on a billboard, where the logo has a chance to stretch its legs, looks terrible on the side of pen where it is squashed to the point of illegibility.
Naturally, when your logo is rendered unreadable, it hinders the ability of the logo to tell your brand story.
The best way to avoid this aspect of bad logo design is with responsive logos, which means having specifically-designed examples for small and large areas.
This allows you to keep your detailed logo for use in areas where you have a lot of space to play with, and also permits you to put your logo on merchandise without compromising on legibility or style.
This is a classic issue in logo design because it doesn’t actually involve the logo being bad.
Good designers can easily produce high-quality work, and this mistake isn’t picked up on until it’s too late.
What ‘irrelevant imagery’ is essentially referring to is an idea that a logo doesn’t have an obvious link to the brand it is supposed to represent.
This can be blatant, like a medical company represented by a race-car, or it can just be generic shapes that don’t inform the viewer of anything about your brand or image.
In both cases clarity is lost, and brand recognition is severely hampered.
The best way to avoid this particular aspect of bad logo design is by sticking with imagery that is directly connected to your company, either in direct reference to the name or by the field in which it operates.
A company called Archer Medical Services can get away with bow and arrow imagery, for example, but Smith’s Medical Services might make such a logo choice bizarre.
Listed above has been all of the most common aspects of bad logo design that you can expect to have to deal with while handling your brand’s image.
Now that you know what to look for, you can rest easy knowing that your logo will be perfectly suited to telling the story of your brand.
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