What makes a bad logo?

What makes a bad logo?

branding
design

The ultimate guide on how not to design a logo. Alright, and also some examples of good ones.

Feb 4 5 minute read

A brand logo. One of the first things you need to think about when starting a business. There are many things you can do to create a logo that works on most levels, but there are certainly some things you should not do.

Creating a logo is no science, but if you don’t look at your design from multiple angles, you might end up with something that implies something a little different than you probably intended to:

There’s a lot more on these examples, but you probably get the point. Try to avoid any mistaken references.

Another thing that you should try to stay away from is bad font spacing between letters. See the example below:

I wouldn’t feel much for their business idea.

The next logo is a design for the Olympics is 2012. The concept behind it is still unclear, and the logo wasn’t relevant to the country, year, or anything for that matter. The logo received a lot of controversies, but they still decided to use it.

Another logo that got a lot of negative reactions is the logo Pepsi implemented in 2009. Even though the changes were small, people said the new logo looked more like a man that had too many Pepsi’s.

Pepsi is not the only brand that was in discrepancy with their rebrand, Gap, the American clothing brand tried to get a modern approach on their logo in 2010. The new logo (on the left) was criticised so much, that they decided to turn back to their old logo, which looks just fine in the first place.

Another brand with a logo rebrand that wasn’t very popular is Zara, the Spanish fashion brand. The new logo had a serious change in kerning, and wasn’t picked up very nicely by customers and designers. Talking about readability:

The last one is for the OCD’ers among us, a great example of ‘symmetry is everything’.  The logo is out of balance, which most people think goes against the rules of logo design. Luckily, they changed this logo again some years ago.

How to do it right

Enough about the logo’s that didn’t work out. Here’s a list of logo’s that stick.

Coca-Cola almost didn’t change its logo since the beginning, because the design is very future-proof. It’s elegant and memorable, and it just works.

Since Apple is famous for its design, the logo that comes with it shouldn’t be left behind in this list. There are many stories on the originations of the logo, however, the real story is rather simple, just like Apple wants all of its products to be. One of the founders of the brand, Rob Janoff, drew the apple and to not confuse it with a cherry or a tomato, he took out one bite. 

Swoosh. The Nike logo may just be one of the few logos with its own name.  It stands for movement, exactly what the brand is selling. It’s timeless, matches with the core values of the brand and it’s definitely memorable.

FedEx has a ‘hidden’ double meaning in its logo, just look at the white space between the E and the X. An arrow, meaning progress, speed and accuracy. Fun fact: the designer actually had to merge two fonts in order to create this arrow.

The logo of Heineken also has a hidden twist in it. The e’s are slightly looking up, imitating a smile. They are also called ‘the smiling e’. And if you look at it, isn’t that exactly the feeling you get? Smart physiology, if you ask me.

What does science say?

FastCompany published an article on research about how people want a logo to be. In this research, it turned out that they preferred a logo that is descriptive rather than abstract, in order to instantly see what the brand is all about. The example they give, is the burger king logo. It shows exactly what the company does, selling burgers. And apparently, this is what most people want.

This rule doesn’t apply for all brands, however. According to the research, if you are selling something people tend to have a negative association with, you should have a less descriptive logo to not remind them of the product or service you’re selling. 

Besides, when your brand is already big enough, you also don’t need to be very descriptive. Therefore, McDonalds for example, is perfectly safe with its iconic logo. 

The findings go against some of the current trends on logo design, where logos are seemingly getting more and more abstract.

When we look at the degree of remembrance, Here’s a fun article where 150 Americans tried to draw 10 of the most famous logos by hart. IKEA came out the best when it came to the number of people remembering the logo.

To conclude, designing a logo is all about the type of brand you are, and it should reflect exactly your core business or message without getting unclear due to too much detail. Look at your logo from different angles, and don’t be afraid to put too much time into the design. In the end, it’s the first thing people see and it should be the last thing they remember.

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