The Pitfalls of Bad Logo Design
I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve had a small business owner hire me to take on their marketing planning and content strategy and present to me a logo that their neighbor designed for them or the kid next door threw together on the cheap. While that logo looked smashing in its initial applications, what most business owners don’t realize is that when you don’t have a professional logo designed for your business you are bound to run into some costly pitfalls.
Here’s an example. A government entity for which I did work several years ago had a logo designed for the organization. It was eye-catching; it was fun. All in all, it looked terrific! That is until we tried to use it in a variety of applications. It was a logo filled with many overlapping, colorful dots that were meant torepresent each of the entities working together to make this organization function. When that logo was produced in black and white it looked a lot like a giant ink blot, which did not communicate anything about the personality or “brand” of this business.
When we tried to use the color red for a one-color application the logo suddenly looked like blood splatterings. When we wanted to have the logo appliqued on jackets and t-shirts, the embroiderers were unable to make it work because of the complexity of the logo design.
The lesson learned here is that the graphic designer who created this “stunning” logo should have known to test it in a variety of likely scenarios. In this case, he did not and the organization spent a lot of money finding out the hard way that they had made a mistake in who they hired to design their organization’s logo. Anytime we wanted to use the logo, we had to have the logo reconfigured to fit whatever application we were using. It was not a good investment. Lesson learned.
This scenario is extremely common for small business owners, especially, as design budgets tend to be limited. So let me give you a few things to consider when thinking about who you hire to design your next logo. Just because it looks cool on your computer screen doesn’t mean it’s a good logo. Here are some things to look for when you hire a professional, experienced graphic designer. You’ll save money and headaches in the long run.
- The logo is not properly built. Sometimes this results in the logo being blurry when printed or used.
- The logo is difficult to reproduce on a variety of platforms and applications (t-shirts, coffee mugs, pens, etc.). It simply doesn’t fit the space correctly. Or it has so many details that it doesn’t reproduce well on things such as signage. Sometimes the fonts chosen can be difficult to read when reproduced or printed on various items.
- The logo has to be rebuilt or reformatted every time you try to apply the logo to various materials.
- Low-quality logos are often designed using software that does not produce high-quality vector graphics. A qualified graphic designer will design the logo using appropriate software.
A Well Designed Logo will:
- Be unique and memorable
- Be timeless. It doesn’t necessarily follow the current trends that everyone else has adopted.
- Create a unique identity for your business. It should not be an imitation of what another business has already created.
- Be scaled to any size without losing quality in publication.
- Be easy to edit when minor edits do need to be made to adjust for various applications.
- Be an original design and not created from stock images that your business may or may not have the proper permissions to use. Inexperienced graphic designers can get you into trouble with copyright law so be sure he knows what he’s doing before paying him to design your logo.
- Use fonts that reflect the personality of your business. A logo is a branding tool that will help the viewer develop an impression of what sort of business you run. Make sure your logo accurately conveys the image you want to present to your current and prospective clients.
- Not be cluttered up with multiple fonts or too many details. Overly complicated logo designs can cause confusion in the mind of the viewer. This makes it difficult for the viewer to recognize the business which the logo represents when they see the logo out of context. The reason people know Nike by the iconic swoosh is because the design was simple and easy to identify, even when the word Nike was not present at all. Simple is better in this case.
So the moral of the story is this. Before you hire the kid next door to design your next logo, think about the long-term consequences that may await you. Your logo is an investment in your business, much like anything else you pour into it. Be sure you have not paid the wrong person to produce a design that simply doesn’t reflect the high-quality products and services for which your business wants to be known. A good logo is likely to last you
A good logo is likely to last you decades if designed properly. It might require a few upgrades as the years progress, but ultimately a well-designed logo is one of the most important building blocks of your company’s brand. So while you may need to make minor adjustments to expenses around the office, skimping on the budget for your company’s logo development should not be on the table.