Common Logo Design Mistakes To Avoid

Logo design can be tricky business. A logo is meant to be a unique symbol that an audience can identify a brand with. Often times we tend to over-think it and make needless mistakes. In this post I’ll be going over common logo design mistakes and how to avoid them.

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Too Literal

A while back I had a client explain to me that he sells luggage, and in his own words, “I need people to know that I sell luggage by looking at the logo.”

I kindly advised him that it’s not the logo’s job to tell people what you sell; it’s the job of your brochures, fliers, banner ads, and other marketing materials to do that. The logo itself is not meant to be an advertising piece – it’s just meant to be a relevant and unique symbol that your audience can use to identify you with.

When developing a logo for your brand, instead of thinking “what needs to be communicated?” like you would with an advert, think “what does my brand stand for?”

Nike is a great example of this. They sell athletic footwear, but they don’t put a logo of a shoe on their shoes. They’re not trying to tell people that they sell shoes with their logo. Instead, they use an abstract check mark that conceptualizes movement relative to athletics, because that’s what their brand ultimately stands for.

shoe logo

Instead of using the logo to broadcast “we sell luggage,” I asked the client to explain what makes his luggage products different from the competition so I could use that as the premise for the logo’s design. What makes your luggage great? Why did you start this product line in the first place? Were you frustrated with luggage that isn’t durable enough, or maybe wasn’t efficient enough with space? Is this a lightweight product that will cost less to travel with? Or is this maybe a stylish product that would appeal to a specific demographic?

Identify what’s driving the passion behind the business, because that’s usually the best direction to take the design process.

Too Much Detail

Another common trap that both clients and designers fall into is making the logo too detailed and elaborate. I actually made this mistake for a long time myself.

The problem with a logo having too much detail is that at some point, the logo will need to be scaled down to small sizes. When you scale down a design with lots of fine details, it tends to disappear, or at the very least become unrecognizable.

logo too small

What I find to be a good rule of thumb is scaling the design down to 16×16 pixels, as that’s the size of the standard favicon. If your logo won’t work as a website favicon, or won’t be recognizable as a social media profile picture on a small mobile device, it probably needs to be re-worked.

A logo with contact info in it

Including contact information — website, phone, email, etc. — is another way in which a logo becomes too detailed.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s not the logo’s job to advertise stuff; it’s just meant to be a relevant and unique symbol that people can identify a brand with. It doesn’t need to include contact info. Wherever the logo is being used, that information will likely be nearby, and in the places people would normally expect to find it.

Business cards, social media profiles, brochures, etc. all have designated areas for contact information. Cramming it into the logo as well creates a chaotic and disorganized appearance, which comes off as very unprofessional.

Too Color Dependent

A logo should always be designed in black & white first, then have colors and gradients added later. If not, you run the risk of destroying the logo’s versatility by creating it in such a way that it relies on its colors.

Ideally, a logo should work well in color, printed in black & white, when embroidered onto a shirt, when cut into a sign for the side of a building, etc. When a logo’s design relies too much on its colors, you end up with something like this…

A logo that relies too much on its colors

If a logo can’t be stripped down to just black & white, it probably isn’t a very good logo. It’s okay to use colors and gradients, but make sure to use them in such a way that the design itself doesn’t rely on them and that each element of the design has some kind of element that separates it from the rest of the design.

A versatile logo design example

Too Many Fonts

A logo should ideally use just one or two fonts at the very most. If not, you might end up with something like this…

Using too many fonts in a logo design

When you use too many fonts, they all fight for attention. The point of graphic design is to enhance communication; not disrupt it.

Using 1 distinct font for the main, prominent word(s) and another more subtle font for secondary word(s) is always good practice.

…And Many More

This is just a small handful of common mistakes I decided to touch on today. If you’re interested in learning more about the ingredients of a great logo, I would suggest checking out my logo design ebook where I go over these mistakes in more detail, along with many others to avoid.

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Nick

Nick Saporito is a Philadelphia-based graphic designer who specializes in branding-specific design.

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