In order to effectively convey what it takes to create an effective logo, I think it is important to outline the qualities of an effective logo.
- An effective logo is easy to recognize, even at a glance or at a distance
- An effective logo is easy to remember
- An effective logo tells people who you are
- An effective logo tells people what you do
- An effective logo suggests your service style
An effective logo may also have one “bonus” attribute that can make it not only effective, but outstanding. Your logo may also convey your unique selling point.
Knowing what it is that an effective logo conveys, we can start to look at some design qualities an effective logo has and doesn’t have, and why they are important.
Hopefully, your restaurant has a color scheme. Your scheme helps identify you and should consist of two contrasting colors. From those two colors, you can also find complimentary colors to use in the interior and exterior decoration of your restaurant. Often, the color black or another third color can be used to make the primary colors “pop”. It’s also good to know that certain colors have distinct psychological effects on how people behave. You may have noticed that many large chain restaurants use the colors red and yellow in their restaurant designs. These two colors make people feel “excited”. Research has shown that this excitement leads customers to eat more inside the restaurants they are used in.
A gradient is the resulting color pattern when one color fades into another color. This effect may look artistic and interesting, but it muddles your logo and makes it harder to recognize at a glance or distance. It also makes reproducing your logo more expensive or even impossible with some reproduction methods, like embroidery. Stay away from gradients if you want a logo that is easy to recognize and easy to remember.
Bevels and highlights
Effects such as beveling, which makes the center of an object look raised while the edge appears to “drop down”, and highlighting serve to muddle an images appearance just as gradients do. While the effects look artistic and make the logo more interesting, it also makes the logo more difficult to see at a glance or distance, and harder to commit to memory. In logo design, too much detail results in a bad logo.
After the last two paragraphs, I hope you don’t need much detail on why shadows, especially drop shadows, are bad for a logo. They add artsy detail that only serves to confuse the image. It’s extra detail that is there more for the logo artists ego than to make the logo more effective. Remember, “attractive” doesn’t equal “effective”.
One of the most common logo design mistakes is using a font that is too hard to read, or putting a font on a background whose color does not contrast enough with the color of the font, resulting in lettering that doesn’t stand out enough. If the words on your logo are lost because they are too hard to read, you don’t have an effective logo.
What words you use in your logo and how they are emphasized based on the font size and color will greatly affect your logo’s ability to be recognized and remembered easily. More importantly, a poorly worded logo will not communicate to your potential customers who you are and what you do. Without communicating your identity and your message, your logo might as well be a blue dot with no words. An example would be a restaurant that just calls itself “Ralph’s” and has a logo consisting of the name “Ralph’s” over a plain background, like a circle, with no other words. This logo could easily convey what the business does by adding the word “restaurant” to the logo. It could communicate even better by including words that says what Ralph’s Restaurant sells, like “Ralph’s Sub Sandwiches”. Another approach would be to not have the extra words, but to use an image or background that infers “restaurant” or “sub sandwiches”. For example, Ralph’s could be spelled out between two hoagie bun images with a lettuce leaf on top and a tomato on bottom. This would leave no doubt that Ralph’s is selling sub sandwiches.
An effective logo doesn’t just need an easy to recognize color scheme, and words that effectively convey what the business sells. An effective logo also needs to utilize a basic geometric shape that helps identify the logo when someone is too far away to read the words. Along with a basic two color scheme, a shape in a logo makes that logo very easy to recognize. Think of McDonalds big yellow “M” or Burger King’s split yellow sphere (probably a bun) with a blue swoosh around the name and sphere. They create basic shapes and color patterns that are easy to recognize as soon as the sign comes into view, long before you are close enough to read the words.
Overall, you can summarize these design points by just reminding yourself to “keep it simple”. Too much detail may win some “oohs” and “aahs” from your friends, or make you feel better about your design prowess, but it won’t result in a logo that accomplishes the most basic task a logo is intended for, making people remember you and what you do.
Can a logo build a brand and make the company more money? Of course it can. Branding is a huge business in itself. It’s been proven in surveys that people remember certain logos better than past Presidents or world capitals. But these international symbols took time to be established and the company became successful on its on merits first. They built a following and customer base before marketing the logo as their representative. If Nike had begun with their stylized ‘V’ followed by their slogan, ‘Just Do It,’ how would anyone know what they were selling?
I have been an advertising consultant to thousands of businesses and designed hundreds of logos. I’ve never seen an awful business made better with an award-winning logo. Conversely, I’ve seen many successful businesses that thrived for decades without any logo at all. Most of them used their name in a variety of type styles that were easily read and, instead, communicated the nature of the company. “Fred’s Fine Custom Homes,” or “XYZ Creative Web Design,” still gets the message across.
I agree there is no “one thing”, a logo included, that makes a business. Having a great logo and a strong brand identity isn’t going to result in a successful business all on its own, and of course there are examples of companies who have thrived without having a great logo. However, we could all dance blindfolded and drunk across a busy freeway and some of us would make it across without getting run over by cars. That doesn’t make it a good idea to dance blindfolded and drunk across a freeway, any more than building a business with a weak logo or brand is a good idea.
Having an effective logo is just one thing that can affect the chances for a business’ success. Businesses can succeed without a great logo just as they can also succeed with a sub-par product (My last two pair of Nikes have “blown out” within a month of buying them. McDonalds frozen, undersized hamburgers also come to mind.). Much like the logo though, a business that starts out handicapping itself by creating inferior products is decreasing it’s opportunity for success.
Nothing beats a good, strong logo. By itself it down’t make your business succeed. Just a part of the overall operation.