1. Typographic chaos
Typography in logo design can make or break a design, so it’s vital you know your typographic ABC‘s. A logo should be kept as simple as possible while still portraying the intended message, and for this to happen, one must consider all typographic aspects of the design.
Don’t use too many fonts or weights (two maximum). Don’t use predictable, crazy, or ultra thin fonts. Pay close attention to kerning, spacing, and sizing and most importantly, ensure you’ve chosen the right font(s) for the project at hand.
2. Poor font choice
As touched on above, when it comes to creating a logo, choosing the right font can make or break a design. Font choice can often take as long as the creation of the logo mark itself and it should not be done briskly.
Spend time researching all the various fonts that could be used for the project, narrow them down further, and then see how each one gels with the logo mark. Don’t be afraid to purchase a font, modify one, or create your own. Also, keep in mind how the logo’s font could be used across the rest of the brand identity in conjunction with other fonts and imagery.
3. Too complex, too abstract
Simple logos are more memorable as they allow for easier recognition; however, for a logo to be memorable and stand apart from the crowd, it must have something unique about it, without being too overdrawn. Not only does simplicity make a logo more memorable, but it also makes the logo more versatile, meaning it can work over more mediums. For example, a logo should work on something the size of a postage stamp and on something as large as a billboard. Don’t make your logo too abstract either.
4. Relying on special effects or color
If a logo requires color or special effects to make it a strong logo, it’s not a strong logo. To get around this, work in black and white first and then add the special effects or color later. This allows you to focus on the shape and concept rather than the special effects. Don’t use drop shadows, embossing, or other layer styles to gloss up logos — a good logo will stand on its own. You can also make different variations of a logo to ensure it works in colour or grey scale.
5. Using raster images
A logo should be designed in a vector graphics program such as Adobe Illustrator to ensure that the final logo can be scaled to any size, enabling the logo to be applied easily to other media. A vector graphic is made up of mathematically precise points, which ensures visual consistency across all mediums and sizes. A raster image (made out of pixels, such as what you would find in Photoshop) can’t be scaled to any size, which means at large sizes, the logo would be unusable. Use a vector graphics program when creating logos.
6. Settling for a monogram
One of the more common mistakes of the amateur logo designer is trying to create a monogram out of the business’ initials (e.g. Bob’s Hardware would become a logo made out of B & H). Although this sounds like a smart solution at first, it’s rather difficult to build credibility or convey an intended message with just the initials of a company. You can certainly explore this route, but don’t settle on it unless you can create an original, creative, and memorable solution that reflects the business’ goals.
Also, try not to shorten a business name into acronyms until it has been around for a while or if it suits the target goals. HP, FedEx, IBM, and GM never started out as acronyms — they became acronyms after many years of high-profile exposure.
7. Using visual clichés
Light bulbs for ‘ideas’, speech bubbles for ‘discussion’, swooshes for ‘dynamism’, etc. These ideas are often the first things to pop into one’s head when brainstorming, and for the same reason should be the first ideas discarded. How is your design going to be unique when so many other logos feature the same idea? Stay clear of these visual clichés and come up with an original idea and design.
8. Copying, stealing, or borrowing design
It’s sad that this has to be said, but it’s an all-too-common practice these days. A designer sees an idea that he likes, does a quick mirror, color swap, or word change, and then calls the idea his own. Not only is this unethical, illegal, and downright stupid but you’re also going to get caught sooner or later. Do not use stock or clip art either — the point of a logo is to be unique and original.
9. Getting too much client input
A client is paying you as a professional designer to come up with a relevant design, so you should direct the client to the best possible solution. The best way to do this is to offer your expertise, not by letting them direct the project (entirely). If a client asks for a misinformed change, explain why it may not be such a good idea and offer a better alternative. If they still refuse, try sending your own design decisions as well as their design suggestions. They will often realize that their suggestions may not have been the best; however, you as a designer should also realize that you also, are not always right, so try giving the client’s suggestions a go — who knows where it will lead.
10. Providing too many concepts
Loosely linked to the above point is providing the client with too many options. This again means the client will have too much say over the design direction of the project. If you provide 10 concepts to a client, more often than not they will choose what you consider, the ‘worst’ design. A good rule of thumb is to only send one to three concepts that you personally could see working for their business. Of course, the number of concepts you send can change from project to project, but once you feel confident enough as a designer, these one to three concepts should nail the project on the head every time.