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Fundamental Mistakes In Logo Design


This article is courtesy of Lee from PhaseCreative, originally posted Jan 11, 2011.

Hi Guys,

Been a little while since I put one of these together, so thought it was about time for a new one.

This time, I'm focussing on a crowd sourced project for a new logo.  The company is in construction, and wanted a clean, elegant logo that didn't focus on the name of the business (Craynne Developments) in a literal sense, i.e. nothing to do with a construction crane.

Below are some of the entries that were submitted (I've already checked that these are OK to display on here), but that the contest originator rejected.  We'll look at each logo, and see why they were rejected, and how it could be improved by applying basic lessons of logo/graphic design.  Hopefully you'll find this helpful, and if you'd like more of a challenge - look at the entry, and try to spot the problems before you scroll down to see what i've written!

Lets start with this entry:

Posted Image

What's wrong with this logo:
  • Firstly, i've counted at least four base colours, excluding the different gradients
  • The logo element actually makes very little sense and simply confuses the message
  • The line underneath 'Craynne' is dotted for some reason, and detracts from the lettering
  • There is far too much spacing between the logo element and the lettering
How we could improve this logo:
  • As I've mentioned in previous tutorials, less is more.  Choose one or two base colours, and if necessary, use gradients to create light, shade and depth
  • If you choose to use a logo element in your design, ensure that every part of it has a reason for being there.  In this example, the building alone would have been sufficient, without the two random blocks and a triangle.  It pulls down the whole design and makes it feel cluttered.
  • There is no need to have a line in this logo at all, much less a dashed line.  It simply pulls your eye away from the text, and is, again, in a completely unconnected colour.
  • Bring the logo element either down, or to the left of the lettering, and reduce it's size.  The element shouldn't overwhelm the business name.
Moving swiftly on, we have the next entry:
Posted Image

What's wrong with this logo:
  • The most obvious problem here, is that the designer didn't read the brief properly, and has included an art deco style 'crane'
  • The font is more suited to a solicitors, accountant etc rather than construction, and certainly wouldn't be considered modern
  • Once again, the use of unnecessary lines between the two texts - it simply complicates the message
  • In the contrasted version in the bottom right hand corner, the choice of colours is very poor, as the dark background makes the text unreadable
How we could improve this logo:
  • Scrap the logo element all together - a simple text based logo with some slight gradients may help
  • If the design brief calls for a modern yet elegant logo, choose an elegant, modern font.  Something simple like Code or Helvetica would do nicely
  • See previous comments RE:  lines between text.
  • Choose your colour scheme wisely, and don't try to match colours that simply won't contrast, just to offer variation, it makes you look unprofessional.
Our next, and possibly worst candidate is:
Posted Image

What's wrong with this logo:
  • Starting with my biggest pet hate in any logo - it has a background, and a rather poor one at that
  • The circles seem to have a stroke effect on them, that is too small to be appreciated, but too large to be un-noticed.  Also they aren't proper circles
  • The font's used aren't particularly bad, but their alignment, kerning and position have ruined the effect
  • Once again, we have badly contrasting colours.  It's another case of adding colour for the sake of adding colour.
  • It looks strongly like it's been designed in Microsoft Word
How we could improve this logo:
  • Logo's don't need backgrounds.  I honestly can't say this strongly enough.  They need to be versatile and adaptable to many mediums including print, web and advertising, so a logo with a background makes them inherently unusable in the real world.  If you *must* add a background to a logo, at least add a border to it.
  • Change the deformed ovals, into proper circles and reduce their number.  The logo element is bigger and uglier than it needs to be.  Also, there is no necessity for the stroke effect round the outside of them.  If it's purpose is to add contrast, then change the base colour of the circles.
  • Aligning the wording to the circles would have made this logo better, however the 'developments' text would have fitted neatly underneath the 'craynne' wording and would have kept within the boundaries of the text.  As it stands however, the logo looks unbalanced.
  • Once again, choose colours that go well together.  Aqua blue gradients with deep red will never go well together - don't just add colours for the sake of it.
That's all for now folks, but hopefully it's given you a bit of inspiration on how not to do things :)

If anyone has any requests for tutorials, please do let me know and i'll do my best to oblige.  My specialties are in corporate identity, copywriting and web design.

Cheers,

Lee


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