8 Mistakes that can make or break a Logo

I still remember, my initial days as a brand designer. As someone who was still learning, I made many mistakes. Unfortunately, I was not even aware of those cringe worthy logos at that time. I once created a logo that looked something like this

Thankfully my client, was kind and forgiving in letting me know, that this was not something he wanted (he never told me the exact reason, but I figured out eventually). This was one of the first and most literal concept that was designed during the exploration phase, and the logo that was designed finally looked like this.

Now with some experience, I have compiled a mental checklist of things that must be taken care of while designing a logo. This checklist does not involve the de facto — Research, Client Brief and Feedback. This checklist has things, which are sometimes overlooked by designers as well as the clients.

1. The logo must not be offensive

Just as what I did , I have seen designers making the similar mistakes while designing Logo.

** DISCLAIMER : Some explicit images ahead **

Example — The Air BnB’s Bello, which looked like particular body part?

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Another important thing to bear in mind, is to understand the cultural and religious aspect of a logo. The sterotypical cultural representation is very offensive and may bring a lot of bad name and hassles for the company. An example is the Cleveland Indians logo- Chief Wahoo. The logo is racist depiction of Native Americans. It takes inspiration from the sterotypical image of Native Americans as someone who are uneducated, wear costume made from feathers and beads. The facial features are highly exagerrated that emphasise the difference between the Native Americans and other races. The use of feather too is highly controversial as it has special religious and spritual significance to Native Americans. This particular logo also gives an incomplete perception of Native Americans.


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2. Colors must be relevant to the brand

While choosing colors for a logo can sometimes be subjective and depend a lot on the story of the brand, it is very important to understand the emotions associated with colors. At the same time, an important thing to remember is to make sure you understand that the colors you choose are not used in a completely unrelated domain.

I remember working on a rebranding project for a health tech startup in India. The primary color of their brand was the same purple as used by many female hygiene brands in India.

Similarly, one particular client from a country with Islamic majority asked me to refrain from using Green color, as he feared that it may mean the brand may be associated with particular religion.

Can you recall the most common thing amongst all the fast food chain?

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See the usage of color- Almost all of them have used Yellow and Red. Our brain has a fast response to color yellow. It immediately catches our attention. Similarly, red is the color that invoked energy and apetite. It reminds our brain of a ripe tomato or strawberry. Red and yellow are common color in the natural foods.

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On the other hand blue as a color, is almost non existent in natural foods, and was associated with poison in older times. Besides blueberries, the color blue is almost non-existent in natural foods. It acts as a natural appetite supressant. Unlike red, yellow or green, we do not have an automatic apetite response to blue color.

Tip: Do a small usability testing. Ask the people around you to look at the logo and ask them to explain what is their general perception about the brand looking at the logo.

3. Is it too cliche?

Using a globe to depict global, pink to depict anything realted to women, a handshake to depict trust, a bulb to depict an idea- you must have got the idea! As a designer, these are the first and most obvious symbols that come to my mind when I am doing a sketching exercise for the client, but that is not where anyone should stop. The good concepts are always ahead after these obvious logo concepts are drawn and paper and taken out of your system

Tip — Based on the client brief, create a list or map of the keywords and their associated words ( synonyms, antonyms, similar words, phrases) . Make it as visual as possible, by drawing a symbol or image for each word. This way you can ensure, that you have a lot of visual imagery to play with.

4. Is the Logo unique?

While it is impertive to do a thourough research on what your competition is doing, it is not a good idea to make a logo that looks exactly like theirs. Often times, you may want or be asked to design a logo that looks similar to “that logo”.

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Tip — When asked to produce a logo that look like that logo, ask specific question to the client like what is it that they like in that logo. Is it the color , typography or a motiff?

5.The meaning of logo should remain the same even without colors

Though colors play a very important part in designing a brand, as designer we should be wary of the fact that colors should not be the only thing people remember your logo with.

The Target and soundcloud logo use very beautiful colors in their identity, but that is not the only thing their customers recognize them with. This quality of any logo to not loose its meaning without color is important as this ensures that your logo can be printed on any medium and still be recognized.

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6. The typography must compliment the brand

Typography plays a very important role in creating brand perception. The luxury brands are most often seen in serifs or custom designed minimalistic, clean typefaces ivoking the feeling of history, experience and elegance.

Similarly, the brands that are positioned for masses look and feel “affordable” due to the rounded and often not so extremely elegant typography(and color)

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7. Is the logo scalable?

The logo should look the same even when it is to be printed on a billboard or to be displayed on your wesbite. A very important thing to keep in mind is to not use very intricate details, which might loose meaning when they are scaled down.

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8. Logo must relect the brand’s USP

Amazon’s smiley arrow that also points from A>Z is the realization of their philosophy of delivering almost anything with a smile. Similarly, the Baskin Robins logo and FedEx logo are the classic example of their story personified through their logo.

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The arrow in the Amazon symbol , going from A to Z symbolizes how a customer could find everything they needed at Amazon. It also resembles a smile.


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Burt Baskin and Irv Robbins joined hands and Baskin Robins started offering 31 ice cream flavours. This logo is inspired by their 1953 advertisement campaign “ Count the flavours, where the flavour counts”. Baskin Robins offered the different samples to their customers using the small pink spoon. Both the number 31 and color pink are the distinct part of Baskin Robins Logo.

In Conclusion

While this list might have missed few things, in our designing sessions at ElpisDesign, this list helps in moving past the most literal and not so great sketches that we produce when we are in midst of a logo creation exercise.

Did I miss something? Would love to know more through comments. 🙂

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